Urgent Call for National Inquiry: End violence against people with disability in institutions

25 November 2014

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) and Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) are outraged at the events that were portrayed in last night’s ABC 4 Corners program, ABC 4 Corners program, In Our Care.  This program exposes the deliberate cover-up of shocking and pervasive violence and exploitation perpetrated against people with disability along with corruption and mismanagement by Yooralla, a large disability service provider in Victoria.

PWDA and WWDA stand with the survivors of these horrific events, and with the families, advocates, support workers and former staff who have spoken out about these criminal activities.  We call for an immediate National Inquiry into violence, including gender-based violence against people with disability living in institutions and residential settings as a matter of urgency.

“The events exposed in the 4 Corners program last night are not a random occurrence confined to Yooralla or the State of Victoria.  Violence against people with disability in institutional and residential settings, including the significantly higher levels of violence experienced by women with disability is Australia’s hidden shame”, said Ms Carolyn Frohmader, WWDA Executive Director.

Ms Therese Sands, PWDA Co-Chief Executive Officer noted, “We welcome the commitment by the Victorian Government and Opposition to conduct an enquiry into the events at Yooralla.  However, time and again, we have seen State and Territory inquiries focus on violence in specific institutions and residential settings, but the systemic and prevalent nature of this violence across Australia is not addressed. We argue that it is time for a National Inquiry to address the endemic nature of violence, exploitation and abuse in institutions and residential settings”.

“A National Inquiry would respond to a number of United Nations recommendations that urge Australia to investigate and address, as an urgent priority violence against people with disability, in particular women with disability living in institutions and residential settings”, said Ms Sands.

Ms Frohmader also stressed, “Australia has not implemented measures to address violence against people with disability through its National Disability Strategy, nor has the issue of gender-based violence experienced by women with disability in institutions been included in the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children.  On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we say it’s time that women with disability living in institutions were included in Australia’s response to eliminate violence against all women”.

PWDA and WWDA urge all who are concerned about this issue to sign the petition to urgently establish a national inquiry into violence, neglect and abuse against people with disability in residential and institutional settings.

For more information:
Factsheet: Violence against people with disabilities in Institutions and Residential Settings

MEDIA: Carolyn Frohmader 0438 535 123 / Therese Sands 0412 935 128
Phone: 02 9370 3100 Toll Free: 1800 422 015 Email: pwd@pwd.org.au
People with Disability Australia Incorporated (PWDA) is a national disability rights and advocacy, non-profit, non-government organisation. We have a cross-disability focus, representing the interests of people with all kinds of disability and our membership is made up of people with disability and organisations mainly constituted by people with disability.
Our vision is of a socially just, accessible and inclusive community, in which the human rights, citizenship, contribution, potential and diversity of all people with disability are respected and celebrated.
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is the peak organisation for women with all types of disabilities in Australia. WWDA is run by women with disabilities, for women with disabilities. It is the only organisation of its kind in Australia and one of only a very small number internationally.  WWDA’s work is grounded in a human rights based framework which links gender and disability issues to a full range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. This rights based approach recognises that equal treatment, equal opportunity, and non-discrimination provide for inclusive opportunities for women and girls with disabilities in society. It also seeks to create greater awareness among governments and other relevant institutions of their obligations to fulfil, respect, protect and promote human rights and to support and empower women with disabilities, both individually and collectively, to claim their rights.  www.wwda.org.au