Royal Commission Allows Social Sector to Help Disability Abuse Victims
Tuesday, 26th June 2018 at 8:43 am
Only a royal commission into violence and abuse against people with a disability can fund the social sector to support victims to give evidence, get justice and heal, a peak body says.
Calls for a royal commission have again peaked after an ABC report on Sunday said one person with a disability was killed by their carer every three months in Australia.
The report also explored how the media and justice system were seen as having sympathy for the killers, as disability was offered as a subliminal justification for murder.
Co-CEO of People with Disability Australia Therese Sands said the report laid bare how hard it was for people with disability to get justice for these crimes.
“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has shown the kind of healing impact a commission can make on a previously neglected and hidden issue,” Sands told Pro Bono News.
“This royal commission brought a range of supports, such as counselling and legal advice for survivors of sexual abuse, to ensure they could give evidence.
“A royal commission into violence and abuse of people with disability would need to come with the same level of resources and supports as previous commissions, along with the key accessibility resources to make sure all people with disability can share their experiences.
“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse also commissioned substantial research and evidence gathering that had not been undertaken before.
“This means that a royal commission would ideally provide a body of research and disaggregated data to guide evidence-based best practice in violence prevention and response for people with disability.”
Sands said the terms of reference for such a royal commision would need to be “determined in consultation with people with disability, their families and supporters, and disability organisations”.
Labor has committed to establishing a royal commission into violence and abuse against people with disability if it wins the next election.
Shadow minister for disability and carers, Tasmanian Senator Carol Brown said people with disability reported experiencing abuse at almost twice the rate of other Australians.
“Yet many instances of carer abuse are excused or explained away,” she said.
“Last year 163 community groups including St Vincent de Paul Society, Anglicare and Amnesty International all called on the Turnbull government to establish a royal commission.”
Pro Bono News contacted Social Services Minister Dan Tehan for comment.
ABC’s Background Briefing on Sunday revealed that one person with a disability is killed by their carer every three months in Australia.
In 2015, a Senate inquiry found widespread rates of violence and abuse against people with disability, and strongly recommended holding a royal commission.
The Coalition government ruled this out, saying that the recently established NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission would address the recommendations from the inquiry.
Though critics said that would only cover the 10 per cent of people with disability that were eligible for the NDIS, would not lead to structural change and could not bring justice for past abuses, such as the cases discussed in the Background Briefing program.