We Need A Royal Commission Into Violence And Abuse Of People With Disability

By Jenny Macklin and Carol Brown

He received second-degree burns when he was dragged along the carpet by two staff members at his group home because he refused to go to his day placement activity. Mark’s family discovered the burns a few days later, but ,were never informed of the incident by the home.

Sadly, this account of abuse isn’t an isolated incident.

A 22-year-old woman, with the mental age equivalent of a five-month-old baby, received a serious injury consistent with a brutal blow to the head. A medical examination revealed that she had been raped by a staff member at the facility where she lived and was pregnant as a result. This young woman was one of 122 people, living at a centre, who had been victims of violence and abuse.

A woman smiles after receiving a mobility tricycle in Secunderabad, India. Photograph: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty
Photograph: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty

This is why we need a Royal Commission into violence and abuse of people with disability. These harrowing accounts of abuse are sickening and unacceptable. The voices of people with disability, who have been abused, must be heard and justice must be delivered. We simply can’t let this abuse be swept under the carpet.

 This is not the fault of a single person, organisation or government. These failings reflect on all of us.

Labor will establish a Royal Commission into violence and abuse of people with disability. We will consult widely with the disability community about the terms of reference.

The scale and severity of abuse against people with disability in institutional care was outlined by an ABC TV Four Corners program in 2014. It became the catalyst for a Senate inquiry in 2015 which made 30 recommendations including the establishment of a Royal Commission.

It took the Turnbull Government 16 months to respond. The Government rejected a Royal Commission and accepted only one of the inquiry’s 30 recommendations.

In March this year Four Corners again revealed further cases of sexual and physical abuse inflicted on people with disability and that perpetrators have not been prosecuted, and worse, may still be working in the disability sector.

According to the Department of Social Services’ own National Abuse and Neglect Hotline a total of 891 cases were sighted between July 2012 and December 2014 with systemic abuse (23 percent), physical abuse (16 percent), psychological abuse (16 percent) and neglect (15 percent) being the highest of reported incidents.

Source: huffingtonpost.com

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