Tuesday, 4 December 2018
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) 3 December 2018 was the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and was an important moment to recognize the four million disabled Australians and the contribution they make to society,
(ii) for the first time, people with disability held their own National Awards for Disability Leadership,
(iii) despite the hard-won progress of the disability rights movement, disabled Australians continue to be subjected to discrimination and are routinely denied the right guaranteed to them under international law,
(iv) this discrimination creates and sustains the barriers to employment, education, transport, social and political participation experienced by disabled Australians, and most concerningly manifests itself in horrific violence, abuse and neglect to which they are subjected, and
(v) in a three-month period alone, from July to September of this year, over 184 incidents of abuse and neglect were reported to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government and the Opposition to support the immediate establishment of a royal commission to investigate violence, abuse and neglect of disabled people.
The government continues to support and recognise the significant contribution of Australians with disability. The government is also engaging in real, immediate and substantial reform to prevent the abuse and neglect of people with disability as we roll out the NDIS—the most significant social reform to improve choice and control for people with disability in the services 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 the 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.
Labor supports this motion and welcomes the decision by the Greens to follow the Australian Labor Party in recognising the importance of a standalone royal commission into violence and abuse against people with disability.
Honourable senators interjecting—
People with disability have experienced abuse at unacceptably high rates for far too long. Only last month the ABS released new statistics showing that young people with disabilities or long-term conditions experience sexual harassment at a rate almost twice that of young people in the broader population. The data demonstrates that insufficient action has been taken by the government to counteract the incidence of violence and abuse against people with disability. Bill Shorten announced the policy of a standalone royal commission on 26 May 2017 in response to calls from advocates, academics, representative organisations and people with disability. Labor announced that this would be held in the first 100 days of forming government. Labor supports this motion and calls on the government to establish a royal commission immediately.
I was so happy when the ALP finally saw the light and agreed that we needed a royal commission into the violence and abuse and neglect of people with disability. We had a Senate inquiry into this issue which strongly recommended first a royal commission. The ALP did not pick that up at that time, despite the overwhelming evidence that we need a royal commission to look into and to investigate the violence and abuse and neglect of people with a disability. I find it simply gobsmackingly hypocritical for them to stand up and claim that the Greens are finally following them. Please give us a break. It is yet another one of the issues where the Australian Labor Party have come on board with the Greens. Royal commission into banking, ICAC—I could go on and on.