No Royal Commission for Disability Abuse

By Andrew Heaton

(image via The Telegraph)

No Royal Commission will be held into the abuse and neglect of people with disabilities, after the Australian Government announced its rejection of calls to establish such a Commission.

Releasing its long-awaited response to the Senate Committee into the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, the federal government said it agreed or agreed in principal with five of the 30 recommendations and noted 24 other recommendations.

But it did not agree to the Committee’s main recommendation for a Royal Commission to be called, saying that it did not believe any further inquiries were required in light of the findings from the Senate Inquiry as well as other state-based enquiries.

“The Australian Government has carefully considered the recommendations and findings outlined in this Inquiry, along with the work being done in state-based inquiries,” the government said in its report.

“The Government does not consider that a further inquiry is needed.”

The establishment of a Royal Commission was the central recommendation of the Senate Committee.

It its report, the Committee argued that only a Royal Commission with its full investigative powers and funding could properly conduct an inquiry and give adequate consideration to the issue.

However, the government disagreed.

Until the rollout of the NDIS is complete, responsibility for disability services remained with the states, it argued.

It added that the agency responsible for administering the NDIS, the National Disability Insurance Agency, had recently published a safeguarding and quality assurance framework outlining how critical areas of risk for NDIS participants would be managed.

Disability lobby groups slammed the decision.

In a statement, Disability People’s Organisations Australia, an alliance of national lobby groups for people with disability pointed to the Committee’s findings that the stories it heard were only the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

It said that only a Royal Commission had the time, resources and powers to examine and respond to the issue along with the ability to open doors to ‘closed’ institutions and residential environments, and would give abuse victims an opportunity to tell their story.

Furthermore, the NDIS framework covered only participants who received support through the NDIS, which will most likely represent only a fraction of the total of those who have disabilities.

“We are shocked and angry that the Government has ruled out holding a Royal Commission into the epidemic of violence and abuse against people with disability”, said Therese Sands, Director of DPO Australia.

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