Wednesday, 29 March 2017
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(ii) previous evidence of severe abuse, violence and neglect was revealed by the media and during an inquiry of the Community Affairs References Committee,
(iii) on 25 November 2015, the Community Affairs References Committee tabled a report in the Senate with 30 recommendations addressing widespread instances of abuse, violence and neglect of people with disability in residential and institutional settings, and
(iv) the Government responded to the recommendations in this report on 2 March 2017, where they refused to commit to a royal commission into the issue; and
(b) calls on the Government to reconsider its decision and commit to a royal commission into abuse, violence and neglect of people with disability in institutional and residential settings.
Thank you. Rather than proceeding with another inquiry with a royal commission, the government is focused on establishing a new independent body to implement the NDIS quality and safeguards framework, which will address many of the issues raised by the committee. The development and implementation of the framework has been informed by the Senate committee inquiry and two other inquiries by the Victorian Parliament and the Victorian Ombudsman.
Thank you. I just want to make it clear that Labor wants an independent national inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disabilities. The stories told on Four Corners were harrowing. They were gut-wrenching. They cannot be ignored. These incidents of sexual and physical abuse were sickening. The abuse of vulnerable people with disability is a national shame and needs to be investigated.
The government's response is also shameful. It took the government 15 months to respond to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee report into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disabilities in institutional and residential settings. It was a woefully inadequate response, with only one of the committee's 30 recommendations agreed to by the government. The voices of people who have been abused must be heard. Their voices can no longer be ignored. That is why Labor wants an national inquiry, and that is why we are talking with families, carers and disability organisations about the best type of inquiry and the best way forward.