Monday, 4 December 2017
I would like to inform the chamber that Senator Brown will also sponsor this motion. I, and also on behalf of senators Brown and Siewert, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) 3 December 2017 is the 25th anniversary of International Day of People with Disability, with the theme of 'Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all', premised on the resilience of those in vulnerable situations and the reduction of their exposure and vulnerability to economic, social, and environmental shocks, as well as disasters,
(ii) the Community Affairs References Committee held an inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings during the 44th Parliament,
(iii) on 25 November 2015, the Community Affairs References Committee tabled its report containing 30 recommendations, the headline recommendation calling for a royal commission into the issue,
(iv) on 2 March 2017, the Government responded to the recommendations in this report, where it refused to commit to a royal commission, and
(v) in May 2017, more than 120 academics from around Australia signed an open letter urging the Prime Minister to act on the headline recommendation of the Senate inquiry, and a civil society statement from Disabled People's Organisations Australia and endorsed by 163 organisations and groups and over 380 individuals called for a royal commission; and
(b) calls on the Government to reconsider its decision and commit to a royal commission into violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability in institutional and residential settings.
The Australian government carefully considered the Senate Community Affairs References Committee report's findings and recommendations and have coordinated a whole-of-government response. The report made 30 recommendations, and the recommendation calling for a royal commission is the only recommendation not agreed. The government does not consider that a further inquiry is needed. The report's findings and recommendations, as well as the work being done in relation to state-based inquiries, have informed the development of the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework. The arrangements outlined in the framework will address many of the issues raised in the inquiry. The government is establishing a national independent body to protect people with disability and prevent them from experiencing harm arising from poor-quality or unsafe support or services under the NDIS.
Labor announced in May that, should we win the next federal election, we would establish a royal commission into violence and abuse against people with disability. The continued abuse of Australians with disability by people who are meant to care for them demands a royal commission. People with disability experience much higher rates of violence than the rest of the community and, in many cases, this violence occurs in places where they are meant to be receiving support. Children with disability are at least three times more likely to experience abuse than other children. People with disability and their families have been campaigning for a royal commission for years. Only a royal commission has the weight, authority and investigative powers to examine these horrific accounts of abuse and violence against people with disability. Labor calls on the government to now establish a royal commission into the abuse of people with disability.
I did wonder, Mr President, how long it would be in my short tenure here before I sat within this place filled with disgust, but I guess we now know. Over 150 submissions were made to the Senate inquiry into this issue and, of the 30 recommendations made, the call for a royal commission was probably the most substantial. So, in its opposition to this motion this evening, the government is saying to those 150 submission makers that it simply doesn't care. It is absolutely disgraceful, and I will vote for this motion with pride.
Question agreed to.