Thursday, 10 December 2015

Report into abuse in the disability sector highlights failure to protect people with disabilities

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission welcomes the Victorian Ombudsman’s report into allegations of abuse in the disability sector, tabled in Parliament on 9 December.

The report examines incident reporting and management in a range of environments for people with disability in Victoria. The scale of the problem is still unknown, but the report contains over 25 case studies to illustrate issues with the reporting and investigation of incidents of abuse.

Reports and research consistently show many people with disabilities will not report abuse, for fear they will either not be believed, that nothing will happen, or that they will suffer repercussions.

Commission research has identified a number of barriers to reporting crimes, both with respect to people with disabilities reporting crimes themselves and service providers and support people reporting crimes on their behalf.

The Commission’s Beyond Doubt Report found that barriers for people with disabilities reporting when they had been a victim of a crime included a lack of awareness of rights, the emotional toll of reporting, fear of negative consequences and prior negative interactions with police.

Barriers to service providers and carers either reporting crimes against people with disabilities included a failure to identify abuse and neglect, a failure to adhere to reporting requirements, a normalisation of violence and inadequate internal processes.

The Ombudsman’s recommendations focus on strong support for decision making, and ensuring that there are safety nets and checks in place to guard against abuse, are the cornerstones of a respectful and sustainable disability framework.

Read our Submission to the Inquiry into Abuse in Disability Services.