17 October, 2023
Disability report findings welcomed
SOUTH West Disability Network (SWDN) agencies have welcomed recommendations from the Disability Royal Commission, saying they are committed to implementing practices which enhance the lives of people they support.
SWDN includes 14 south west-based disability service organisations which have reaffirmed their commitment to zero-tolerance to abuse and neglect in disability settings.
The Disability Royal Commission released its final report on September 29 after hearing harrowing evidence of neglect, abuse and exploitation of Australians with disabilities.
SWDN chairperson and Cooinda Terang chief executive Janice Harris said the agencies looked forward to hearing the government response to the recommendations.
“We welcome the Royal Commission report and the recommendations to improve the safety of people with a disability in all settings whether it be in their own home, community or being supported by a disability support provider,” Ms Harris said.
“As a network we are committed to training our staff in all aspects of providing quality supports and supporting each other with implementing best practice across our services.
“While the report and recommendations will involve more changes within the sector, we will support any recommendations that enhance the lives of people with a disability and provide enhanced safeguards to ensure that people with a disability are safe from all forms of abuse.”
SWDN member and Southern Stay CEO Paul Lougheed said it had been difficult to hear the stories coming out of the Royal Commission over the last few years.
“Abuse of people with a disability is abhorrent and has been happening in a range of settings over many years,” Mr Lougheed said.
“It can’t continue. People with a disability have the right to live the life they choose and to be supported in a safe environment.
“The disability sector and the broader community needs to reflect, learn and improve on what has occurred.”
Mr Lougheed said Southern Stay and the other SWDN members were committed to implementing and improving practices which safeguard the rights of people they support.
“We have adopted our peak body’s zero tolerance (to abuse and neglect) framework and aim to ensure that the mistakes of the past do not occur in the future,” he said.
“All our staff are committed to this approach.
“We know that the government is equally committed to safeguarding people’s rights and look forward to hearing their response to the Commission report early in 2024.”
The report contains 222 recommendations covering housing, education and employment. It includes ways to improve laws, policies, structures and practices to help people with disabilities to live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
The Commissioners have different views about whether settings exclusively for people with disability should be phased out over time.
Some Commissioners regard the separation of people with disability from their peers and community at large as ‘segregation’ and incompatible with an inclusive society.
Other Commissioners consider that separate schools, accommodation or employment for people with disability should not necessarily be characterised as ‘segregated’ settings, depending on a more nuanced consideration of the specific circumstances.
The Royal Commissioners have recommended that the Australian Government respond to the recommendations by March 31, 2024.