People with Disability Demand Royal Commission into Violence and Abuse

Today’s ABC Background Briefing report, into shocking cases of the killing of people with disability, shows why a Royal Commission into all forms of violence against people with disability is so urgent and important.

“This new report exposes the terrible deaths of people with disability at the hands of those who are closest to them. But it also lays bare how hard it is for people with disability to get justice for these crimes,” said Ms Therese Sands, Co-CEO People with Disability Australia, for Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPOA).

“The Federal Government can step in today and call a Royal Commission into violence and abuse of people with disability. Right now, we’re seeing how powerful a Royal Commission is in exposing huge problems, and illegal behaviour, in the banking and finance industry,” said Ms Sands.

“We have been saying for several years now that people with disability need a Royal Commission to properly address the appalling rates of violence and abuse we are subjected to, particularly now that the NDIS is rolling out more widely and the whole disability sector is going through immense change.

In 2015, a Senate inquiry found widespread rates of violence and abuse against people with disability, and strongly recommended holding a Royal Commission. The Australian Government ruled this out, saying that the recently established NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission would address the recommendations from the inquiry.

“The Federal Government’s NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission will only cover the 10% of people with disability that are eligible for the NDIS. The Commission doesn’t have the powers of a Royal Commission, won’t lead to structural change and can’t bring justice for past abuses, such as the cases discussed in the Background Briefing program.”

“Only a Royal Commission has the power to break down doors, and shine a light on the violence against people with disability that has been hidden away. Critically, a Royal Commission will also give people with disability a chance to receive justice for violence and abuse that happened in the past,” said Ms Sands.

In 2017, over 160 civil society groups and over 100 academics joined the call for a Royal Commission into violence against people with disability. The Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens have also supported our call to ensure that people with disability get a chance to speak out and get justice.

“The current banking Royal Commission shows how much can be exposed and how much change needs to occur. This is what has to happen now for people with disability. Only a Royal Commission can bring the substantial change we need.”