Wednesday, 19 September 2018
I wish to inform the chamber that Senator Griff will also sponsor this motion. I, and also on behalf of senators Siewert and Griff, move:
That the Senate:
(a) notes that:
(i) on 16 September 2018, the Prime Minister announced a royal commission into Australia's Aged Care system, ahead of the ABC's Four Corners report on the treatment of older Australians in aged care homes,
(ii) the media has extensively reported on violence, abuse, and neglect against people with disability,
(iii) 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,
(iv) 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,
(v) on 2 March 2017, the Government responded to the recommendations in this report, where it refused to commit to a royal commission,
(vi) 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
(vii) on 4 December 2018, the Senate passed a motion calling 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; and
(b) calls on the Government to extend the Royal Commission into Aged Care to include violence, abuse, and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings.
Labor supports a royal commission into the aged-care sector and we understand why this motion has been moved today: because people with disability have been waiting too long for a royal commission and this government simply hasn't delivered. However, an inquiry into the issues of violence and abuse faced by people with disability will need to be quite different from an inquiry into the aged-care sector. It would need to cover schools, the community and justice. Five peak disability representative organisations have reiterated this call for a separate royal commission stating: 'We have called for a specific disability royal commission for many years because the issues are so big and so systematic that our own royal commission is warranted.' Labor has and is committed to a standalone royal commission and we encourage the government to join us in giving the violence and abuse against people with disability the dedicated focus it deserves.
The broad focus of the royal commission will be to look at the quality of care provided in residential and in-home care services to senior Australians. It will also include the challenge of providing care to Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care, particularly younger people with disabilities. The government is also engaging in real, immediate and substantial reform to prevent the abuse and neglect of people with disabilities as we roll out the NDIS, the most significant social reform to improve choice and control for people with disability in the service that they receive.
The government is providing $209 million over four years to establish the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, which will address issues raised in recent inquiries, replacing a complex and fragmented system of quality and safeguards in each state and territory with a single, nationally consistent approach under the NDIS.
In voting down this motion this afternoon, the opposition and the government vote to continue the enforced silence of Australia's disabled people. Over 500 complaints have been received by the National Abuse Hotline—200 this year! In voting down this motion, you vote to keep their stories silent. You vote against the investigation of the crimes which they have been subjected to. You hide behind your politician's words. You hide behind your excuses. Well, the disability community will remember your cowardice and you will pay for it.