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Disability Advocates Question Scope of Royal Commission


Monday, 17th September 2018 at 4:15 pm
Luke Michael, Journalist
The social sector says it welcomes the establishment of a royal commission into aged care, but disability advocates are dismayed ongoing calls to address abuse affecting the broader disability community have been ignored.


Monday, 17th September 2018
at 4:15 pm
Luke Michael, Journalist


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Disability Advocates Question Scope of Royal Commission
Monday, 17th September 2018 at 4:15 pm

The social sector says it welcomes the establishment of a royal commission into aged care, but disability advocates are dismayed ongoing calls to address abuse affecting the broader disability community have been ignored.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the royal commission on Sunday, and said it would primarily examine the quality of care provided in aged care to senior Australians, while also including young people with disability living in residential aged care settings.

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) said the not-for-profit aged care sector welcomed the royal commission, and offered the community “an opportunity to engage in a much-needed, constructive national discussion about the future of aged care”.

Disability advocates also praised the announcement, but expressed dismay their ongoing calls for a royal commission into violence and abuse affecting the broader disability community had been ignored.

Therese Sands, a spokesperson for Disabled People’s Organisations Australia, said they had been calling for a royal commission for more than five years.

“Violence and abuse of people with disability is systemic. The evidence is extensive and compelling. The violence can no longer be ignored,” Sands said.

“The prime minister said [on Sunday] ‘incidences of older people being hurt by failures of care simply cannot be explained or excused’… we agree, and the same needs to apply for the thousands of people with disability who have experienced violence and abuse in a broad range of settings.”

Ross Joyce, the CEO of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, said the royal commission “must also capture these issues for people with disability across Australia”.

“We offer our expertise in assisting the Morrison government to ensure the royal commission terms cover not only aged care but all areas for people with disability who continue to be mistreated and silenced,” Joyce said.

Despite these misgivings, advocates strongly supported the focus on young people with disability living in nursing homes.

The Summer Foundation recently released a report card which said young people in nursing homes were falling through a “critical gap” between the health and disability sectors.

It found more than one in 20 younger people in nursing homes had their National Disability Insurance Scheme applications rejected.

Summer Foundation CEO Luke Bo’sher, told Pro Bono News young people in aged care had been an “intractable problem” over the last decade.

“We’ve seen very little reduction in young people going into aged care and this kind of forensic examination of the issue through the royal commission is a great opportunity to address the issue,” Bo’sher said.

“It’s also a great opportunity to look at how we can make sure the NDIS delivers the help people with disability need to stay in the community, while ensuring the health system comes to the party so people with disability have the support to begin with.”

There are approximately 6,200 people under the age of 65 living in residential aged care in Australia, with 50 young people entering aged care each week.

Yet as of 30 June 2018, only 2,531 young people in aged care were active NDIS participants.

Bo’sher said the NDIS, the health system and the housing system needed to come up with solutions for young people with disability, that stopped them being forced into aged care because there was nowhere else for them.

“Part of the solution from the royal commission needs to be about looking beyond just what happens when someone’s in aged care,” he said.

“It’s about stopping young people from going into aged care to begin with, by making sure the NDIS, the health system and the housing system deliver accessible housing with the right health support – that is appropriately funded by the NDIS.”   


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.


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