Victoria Beefs Up Protections for People with Disability

By Andrew Heaton

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Victoria’s Disability Services Commissioner will be given new powers to conduct instant inspections of premises whilst annual reviews will be conducted of all deaths within disability services as the government in that state moves to clamp down on abuses of people within disability services.

Introduced into Parliament on May 24, the Disability Act Amendment Bill will enable the Commissioner to appoint authorised officers to visit and inspect relevant premises without notice and specify action which needs to be taken as a result of investigations.

The Bill also requires an annual review of all deaths which occur within disability services, with the outcome to be made public in the Commissioner’s annual report.

The latest moves come amid ongoing concern about the treatment of people within the disability service system.

Last year, a Parliamentary inquiry found that abuse within the system was widespread, with people being subject to physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and financial abuse as well as neglect.

The Bill builds on measures announced last December in which the government said it would introduce a Code of Conduct for disability service providers as well as a new client incident management system and a disability worker accreditation scheme and would expand the disability worker exclusion scheme.

Minister for Housing, Disability and Aging Martin Foley said the prevention of abuse was critical, as was the need to guarantee people’s rights in the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“Abuse in disability services has been happening for far too long – the NDIS provides us with the opportunity to make sure the right safeguards are in place to stop it happening in the future,” Foley said.

“We continue to stand by Victorians with a disability as they transition to the NDIS and by making sure their rights are protected.”

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