Daily Bulletin

News

  • Written by Patsie Frawley, Associate Professor, Deakin University

The draft terms of reference for the royal commission into the abuse and neglect of people with disabilities, released for comment this week, outline the commission’s plan to investigate all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disabilities.

For too long, these acts of violence and abuse, particularly where they occur in support services, have been referred to merely as “incidents” to be covered up and kept out of the public gaze.

It’s important the royal commission uncovers the extent of this violence, and highlights the individual harm it has caused. It must also work to address the systemic issues that fail to adequately respond to – and sometimes cover up – these violations.

Read more: People with disability are more likely to be victims of crime – here's why

Most importantly, the outcome of the commission needs to ensure people with disabilities have access to the same education, support and justice services available to others in the community that work to prevent violence and abuse and enable appropriate legal and support responses.

This is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which Australia is a signatory. This requires that people with disabilities be afforded the same rights as others to be safe from violence and abuse. It stipulates that people with disabilities are seen as equal before the law, and that health, justice and support services are accessible for all.

What are we likely to hear?

Far from being vulnerable victims without a voice, people with disabilities have long been showing their strength and capabilities by sharing their stories and contributing to research policy and practice.

Some stories of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disabilities have made their way into the public domain through the media.

One story you may have heard recently on the ABC true crime podcast Trace is that of Adam James. Adam has a disability and in 2013 reported that as a child he was abused by a local priest, who has since been linked to the murder of his mother.

Read more: Abuse and neglect of people with disabilities demands zero-tolerance response

Others will have heard the story of Anj Barker, who suffered a traumatic brain injury at the hands of her violent boyfriend. Anj has been a tireless advocate against domestic violence.

Many more stories have not yet been heard, apart from within research and through advocacy by organisations like Women with Disabilities Australia.

Our peer education program Sexual Lives and Respectful Relationships uses the stories of people with an intellectual disability shared in research to explore sexuality rights. Through this research and the program, we hear about the challenges people with intellectual disabilities experience when seeking to have safe, self-determined and fulfilling intimate and social relationships.

The narrators of the stories – peer educators who run the program and program participants – tell stories of taxi drivers, neighbours and fathers sexually abusing them. They tell of intimate partners, family members, and support staff exploiting them financially and emotionally.

They talk about community services taking their babies away from them in the delivery suite, and about being bullied and abused by people in their community, carers and staff who are employed to support them.

Perhaps the royal commission will beam these stories into our loungerooms and remind us of the pervasiveness of abuse against people with disabilities in this country.

Finally, people with disabilities will have a chance to tell their stories – and be believed People with intellectual disabilities report being financially, sexually and emotionally abused by those who are supposed to be supporting them. Creativa Images/Shutterstock

Access to counselling and legal redress

To ensure people with disabilities have an opportunity to tell their stories, be heard and believed, they need appropriate counselling, family violence support, sexual assault services, and legal assistance. Some important work has been done so far to deliver these services.

In Victoria, the South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault’s Making rights reality program provides easy English information and access to legal advocacy for people with cognitive impairments. Staff are trained and have access to specialist resources for additional support. Clients are then linked into legal services to progress victim of crime applications.

The organisation 1800RESPECT has developed a new app for women with a disability. The “Sunny” safety and support app gives women information about violence and abuse, and opens up referral pathways to them to get immediate help.

Australia’s National Research Organisation on Women’s Safety (ANROWS) has funded research that is informing work by domestic and family violence services to be fully accessible for women with disabilities. This work is also developing opportunities for women with disabilities to inform and shape services.

Access to justice remains a challenge for all victims of violence and abuse. Services such as the Witness and Victims Service of the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions works to support all victims and witnesses to ensure they know their rights and are supported through the court system. Many of their clients are people with disabilities.

Legal advocacy and representation by community legal services is also bridging the gap for many victims with disabilities, by supporting them to access victims of crime compensation.

But more needs to be done to address the barriers in the court system that make it difficult for people with disabilities to access justice. People with disabilities are sometimes seen as lacking credibility as witnesses, for instance, which is not supported by the evidence.

Finally, people with disabilities need to be listened to and believed by those closest to them so they can be referred to services like these.

The draft terms of reference for the royal commission are open for comment from March 13 to 29. Anyone can comment on them – and if you’ve got something to say, you should. After all, people with disabilities are our neighbours, our fellow public transport travellers, our fellow shoppers, voters and our friends and colleagues.

Read more: Why schools desperately need a royal commission into the abuse of disabled people

Authors: Patsie Frawley, Associate Professor, Deakin University

Read more http://theconversation.com/finally-people-with-disabilities-will-have-a-chance-to-tell-their-stories-and-be-believed-113475


The Conversation

Politics

Prime Minister on the Alan Jones Show

ALAN JONES: Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning Alan, how are you? Good to hear you back on the air.   JONES: Thank you. Thank you very much. Can I just - there's a lot...

Alan Jones - avatar Alan Jones

The Greens side with activists, not farmers

The Greens’ Agriculture Spokesperson, Senator Janet Rice, today made some disgraceful comments in relation to the Government’s tough new penalties for keyboard warriors who incite activists to inv...

Senator Bridget McKenzie - avatar Senator Bridget McKenzie

Scott Morrison interview with Alan Jones - 2GB

ALAN JONES: The Prime Minister's on the line from Melbourne, Prime Minister good morning. PRIME MINISTER: Good morning Alan ALAN JONES:  thank you for your time. I wish we had three hours but look...

Alan Jones - avatar Alan Jones

Business News

Tips To Ensure The Best B2B Ecommerce Customer Experience

The B2B ecommerce space offers an incredible array of opportunities. It is has registered growth at more than double the size of B2C ecommerce. These tips will help you greatly in improving your cu...

News Company - avatar News Company

Multi-channel Ecommerce And Its Unparalleled Benefits

With severe competition within the ecommerce industry nowadays, exercising measures for expansion has become crucial. When you’re planning to dive into areas of growing your business into a full-fle...

News Company - avatar News Company

Top 5 Reasons Businesses Are Shifting From Magento To Shopify

Although building an online business has been made simpler by the extensive use of the internet, maintaining its success is a journey rather than a destination. It involves critical decisions made a...

News Company - avatar News Company

Travel

DEAL: Kids stay and eat for FREE these school holidays!

Take these school holidays to the next level with the ultimate family escape at PARKROYAL Darling Harbour. What’s more, kids under 12 years of age, can stay and eat for FREE! ...

Liana Gardy - avatar Liana Gardy

How to Book a Hotel for Your Vietnam Trip

Finding a travel destination may turn out to be challenging at times. You may have a long bucket list, which leaves you spoilt for choice on where to visit first. Going through travel blogs and site...

News Company - avatar News Company

New Allianz data reveals the ‘forgotten’ European countries attracting Australian travellers this winter

FROM SPAIN TO THE UKRAINE - THE SURPRISE EUROPEAN DESTINATIONS BOOMING WITH AUSSIE TOURISTS Australian travellers are seeking new destinations beyond the Mediterranean when it comes to European...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

ShowPo