Statement – We must see change in the systems that are meant to keep us safe

The hearts of our community have been heavy over the past few weeks as more instances of abuse and neglect of people with disability have been brought to light in the media. These are not isolated events but a consequence of deep systemic issues. We know that people with disability are often the targets of violence and neglect, and that these instances are even more common for First Nations people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. People with disability face untold levels of abuse at the hands of systemic failures in legislation, policy, and service provision. This is why our community campaigned for a Royal Commission to investigate the violence, neglect, and abuse of people with disability. 

We welcomed the Disability Royal Commission when it was announced almost a year ago; we hoped it would shine a light on the many gaps that exist in the care of people with disability. Throughout this time we have heard harrowing stories of the treatment of people with disability in group homes, our education systems, and our healthcare systems. We must continue to listen to these stories, and continue to acknowledge that these systems are failing our community. 

We remember Ann-Marie Smith, David Harris, Willow Dunn, and the countless others whose names we have not heard, who were failed by the systems and people who were meant to keep them safe. Their lives had value. They deserved to be safe. We hold the two young boys from Brisbane in our hearts. Their life has value. They deserve to be safe. They all should have been able to live full and enriching lives. 

Now, we must see change in the systems that are meant to keep us safe, including:

  • More resources for the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to proactively investigate support services
  • Increased requirements for transparency for disability support services
  • NDIS plans and reviews to include safeguards ensuring people with disability are not left isolated
  • Making sure people with NDIS plans have the right support to meet their health needs and stay engaged
  • Increased focus on the human rights of people with disability
  • An end to restrictive practices
  • Increased resources for disability advocacy and information services
  • An end to the segregation of disabled people

At times like this, it is important that we take care of one another and ourselves. If you’re having a hard time with recent events, support is available and we encourage anyone that is struggling to reach out to any of the following services: 

1800 RESPECT is the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. (1800 737 732)

Lifeline has 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services. (13 11 14)

Mensline is a telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns. (1300 789 978)

Kids Helpline is a free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. (1800 551 800)

Aboriginal Family Domestic Violence Hotline is a dedicated FACS contact line for Aboriginal victims of crime who would like information on victims rights, how to access counselling and financial assistance. (1800 019 123)

People who are deaf, hard of hearing and/or have a speech impairment can use the National Relay Service (NRS) to call any of these services. Please phone 133 677.

If you need support in another language please use the free of charge Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 131 450.

To report abuse, violence, mistreatment, the National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline offers free, independent, and confidential services for reporting. You can report over the phone (1800 880 052) or via email (