Leaders call for National Disability Abuse Inquiry

Disability Support Presser at Parliament

Leaders in Western Australia’s Disability Sector have launched the National Disability Abuse Inquiry website to show the abuse and neglect facing WA’s people with disabilities.

In light of the recent abuse allegations and investigations into disability care in Victoria, as aired on ABC’s Four Corners, WA’s leaders in disability advocacy and care have come together to support a national inquiry into the sector.

Samantha Connor, disabilities advocate, administrator of Disabilities Clothesline and board member of People with Disability Australia (PWDA), says the site brings to light confronting stories showing the truth of what is happening to people with disabilities across the country.

“Every day an Australian with disability is abused, raped, neglected or assaulted in residential or institutional settings,” Ms Connor said.

“The first step is to support a national inquiry into disability abuse.

“We must engage with people with disability and their families, to ensure they are at the forefront of reforms and increase transparency and accountability in the service sector.”

Ben Keely who has Cerebral Palsy said his experience of disability care showed that people with significant disabilities were vulnerable to neglect in formal care settings.

“Most of the day I was sitting alone in a room with no food or water, or even the tablets I need to take.

“This went on until I said enough is enough.

“I stayed in that place for a year and I still maintain that it was the worst year of my life.

“I think (Disability) agencies should be held accountable for their actions,” Mr Keely said.

Taryn Harvey, CEO of Development Disability WA, says abuse and neglect is underreported in the sector.

“People with significant disabilities face huge barriers in brining abuse and neglect to the attention of people and making complaints. Especially those with intellectual disabilities or communication challenges.

“It is underreported in the community generally, and there is no reason to believe it is not also under- reported in the sector. The Four Corner’s story demonstrates that,” Ms Harvey said.

Kelly Shay, Assistant Secretary of United Voice WA the Disability Support Workers Union, says United Voice direct care members provide high quality support and care for individuals with disabilities ina range of settings.

“We believe that individuals with disabilities, their families and the workforce should be treated with respect and dignity.

“We are strongly opposed to abuse, violence or neglect of any kind of individuals with disabilities,

“We wholeheartedly support the national inquiry,” Ms Shay said.

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