News Media Releases Disability Ageing and Carers

Ending abuse requires voices of people with disability to be heard

People with disability need strong advocacy to end the culture of abuse that is experienced by so many says the Victorian Council of Social Service, responding to the Victorian Ombudsman’s report into disability abuse, released today.

“Too many people with disability are exposed to abuse and neglect,” said Mary Sayers, Deputy CEO of VCOSS.

“Ending this culture of abuse will require systemic changes to the way we support and care for people with disability. In particular it is paramount that we enshrine strong advocacy for people with disability at the heart of the service system.”

“All people with disability have the right to be free from violence, abuse and neglect as well as the right to privacy. However, as this report shows, abuse and neglect of people with disability occurs all too frequently, and is significantly under-reported due to people with disability and workers’ fear of making complaints and poor processes”

“The Ombudsman’s forensic analysis demonstrates the importance of improving services and systems of oversight and advocacy to better protect vulnerable people with disability.”

“VCOSS welcomes this report and supports the recommendations made by the Ombudsman, many of which reflect the issues and concerns raised by VCOSS and disability advocates in their submissions to the inquiry.”

“In particular we welcome the recommendation for better support for advocacy to ensure people with disability have their rights protected and their and needs listened to. Empowering strong advocacy produces broad benefits that enhance protection for individuals and help improve the system overall.”

“Advocacy, at both an individual and systemic level, is essential for the operation of the disability services system especially as it transitions to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.”

“VCOSS also supports the recommendation for a single independent oversight body to assume responsibility for the various regulatory and investigative powers in Victoria to receive, investigate and act upon complaints of abuse.”

“The Ombudsman has also recommended better and consistent protections for whistleblowers and measures to achieve the cultural change needed if we are to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to the abuse of people with disability.”

“Mandatory reporting by service providers of serious incidents of abuse or neglect will be an important improvement. Improved responses to incidents that take a person-centred approach and prioritise the rights and needs of the person are also welcome. It is important that feedback through these processes be provided not only to service providers, but also to the person affected, their carers, and family, where appropriate.”

“The abuse and neglect of people with disability has been culturally accepted for far too long and the Ombudsman’s report is an important opportunity to turn that culture around to give all people the protection and safety that is their natural human right.”