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Support for people with disability: a Royal Commission into abuse, violence and neglect

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Printed and authorised by Senator Richard Di Natale, Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600. Page 1 of 2

No publication date - received by Parl Library 23 June 2016


A Royal Commission into abuse, violence and neglect

Safety. Transparency. Accountability.

Widespread violence and abuse of people with disability is a tragic reality. Every day in Australia people with disability experience violence, abuse and neglect. The Greens will establish a Royal Commission, to give people with disability a voice, and to fix the system.

Violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability is widespread in Australia, including in institutional and residential settings, and has been going on for far too long. 1

Advocates have spoken out about this for years, and calls to action have been ignored. A Senate inquiry showed that there is a systemic problem, and we need to do more. The Greens will fund a Royal Commission to fully investigate violence and abuse of people with disability, and make sure their voices are heard.



The evidence shows that people with disability in institutional and residential settings are more vulnerable to violence, abuse and neglect than the general population. 2

In residential and

aged care facilities, or hospitals, detention, or other institutions, people with disability experience violence, abuse and neglect far too often.

People with disability and their families may avoid speaking out, for fear of being labelled as ‘difficult’, being punished, or being left without housing or accommodation options. Negative assumptions and a lack of support services also mean that many people with disability are left without effective access to justice.


Protection for whistle-blowers can vary between states, and whistle-blowers that have called out abuse have been sacked. 4

Despite state inquiries that repeatedly acknowledge that abuse has occurred, and coroner’s recommendations and investigations of abuse in multiple institutions, violence, abuse

and neglect against people with disability is still occurring across Australia. 5

The Greens initiated and chaired a national Senate inquiry into the violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability. 6


inquiry held hearings and heard evidence from people across the country, and received more than 150 written submissions. Throughout that process, the inquiry heard accounts of sexual and physical violence, and of abuse occurring in the very institutions which should care for people with disability. Violence, abuse and neglect have led to the deaths of people with disability. Since the inquiry report, two people have been sentenced for the deaths of children with disability.



The Senate inquiry provided a snapshot of a widespread and systemic issue, and a system that had failed to protect the most vulnerable. But there is much more to be done. The Senate inquiry could only scratch the surface and recommend a Royal Commission be established.

The Greens support a Royal Commission, to fully investigate this issue. A Royal Commission can use its investigative powers to expose the level of abuse that has occurred for so long at such a large scale. A Royal Commission will allow people’s voices to be heard and their experiences understood in the wider community. The Greens will commit $400m over four years to fund the establishment and operation of the Royal Commission.


Craig Wallace, White Flower Memorial Speech. 2

National Disability Strategy, p. 38; Senate Community Affairs Committee, Report, p. 37. 3

Australian Human Rights Commission, Access to justice in the criminal justice system for people with disability. 4

Senate Community Affairs Committee, Report, pp. 126-129.


Shut out: The experience of people with disabilities and their families in Australia, p. 28; Peat Island: a report to the Minister. 6

Sydney Morning Herald, Senate to hold inquiry into abuse of disabled people following Yooralla case. 7

Sydney Morning Herald, Christian hip-hop producer Kodi Maybir jailed for killing partner's child; Sydney Morning Herald, Magician pleads guilty to unlawful death of autistic boy left to freeze in shed.

Printed and authorised by Senator Richard Di Natale, Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600. Page 2 of 2


The Greens want clear, immediate action on this issue. Leaving people with disability in the current system means leaving vulnerable people without the opportunity to be heard, and without action to address the fundamental issues. The Coalition Government has not responded to the Senate inquiry’s report, and Coalition Senators wanted a judicial inquiry.



Sydney Morning Herald, Anger, frustration over government silence on disability abuse royal commission; SenateCommunity Affairs Committee, Report, p. 285.