PDA’s answers to the Royal Commission Terms of Reference Survey

People with disability, the families friends and supporters have been calling for the Federal Government to establish a Royal Commission into the Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability for a long time. Thanks to the work of Senator Jordan Steele-John and a broad range of disability rights advocates this enquiry will soon be up and running.

To help define the scope of the Royal Commission’s inquiries, the Department of Social Services has posted on online survey on its Engage website (https://engage.dss.gov.au/royal-commission-into-violence-abuse-neglect-and-exploitation-of-people-with-disability/). This survey asks questions about which themes and settings the Royal Commission should prioritise during its investigations and what its recommendations to government should address. The survey also asks if the Royal Commission should also look into mistreatment that may be related to people with disability’s age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and indigeneity and also if there were particular focus areas and settings that should be explicitly avoided by the Royal Commission.

Although we are sometimes weary of government surveys, This one seems to be a genuine attempt to get the views of stakeholders. PDA recommends that all people with disability, their family members, friends and supporters submit responses to the survey by its closing date: midnight 28 March 2019.

Would you like to see the questions and think about you answers before you start the survey?

Here they are with PDA’s answers with comments about why we answered the questions this way:

Prioritise themes

1.   We [the people who will finalise the Terms of Reference] are interested in which themes you think are the most important for this Royal Commission. Please rank the following themes from 1 (most important) to 7 (least important). Place numbers 1-7 in the boxes alongside each theme or drag items to place in priority order.

  • – The safety of people with disability in care (PDA ranked this theme 2nd most important)
  • – The quality of services delivered to people with disability (4th)
  • – Preventing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability across the community (3rd)
  • – The way governments, institutions and providers respond to allegations and incidents of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation (1st)
  • – Setting better standards and guidelines for providers, institutions and people who care for people with disability (5th)
  • – Promoting a more respectful and inclusive society and the rights of people with disability in our community (7th)
  • – Fixing inconsistencies across governments in regards to quality and safety (6th)

Just as the NDIS is becoming the most significant program to provide supports to people with disability, this Royal Commission has the potential to be the report that gets governments to put in place legislation that adequately protects people with disability across Australia. This is why PDA prioritises the responses of those who know mistreatment is happening, the safety of people with disability and what can be done to prevent mistreatment going forwards.

Suggested Focus Areas

2.   On the scale provided, please rate how much of a priority you think each of the following areas should be for this Royal Commission. [The scale gives the following priority options for each possible area of inquiry: Essential; High Priority; Medium Priority; Low Priority; Not a Priority].

  • – What governments, institutions and the community should do to prevent and better protect people with disability from experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. – Essential
  • – What governments, institutions and the community should do to encourage reporting and effective responses to incidents of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability. – High Priority
  • – What should be done to promote a more respectful and inclusive society for people with disability – Medium Priority

If you have any additional comments about any of the areas of focus, please write them in the space provided here:

PDA believes that all Australians need to know how widespread and ubiquitous the mistreatment of people with disability in Australia is. This will result in a lot of pressure on the government to commit to implementing all the recommendations the Commissioners will ensure the Australian public holds them to this commitment.

As such PDA would like to see another focus area added to the above list: Gaining a thorough understanding of the extent of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability

3.   Should the Royal Commission cover all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation? [The options here are: Yes; No; I’m not sure]

Yes!

Although having an all-inclusive view of the mistreatment of people with disability has the potential to make the workload of the Commissioners very large, it is very important that the Government and the Australian people understand how widespread the mistreatment is.

Are there any forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation that you think the Royal Commission should not cover? Please write them in the space below:

No!

All forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation should be covered. No perpetrators’ misdeeds should escape scrutiny. No victim’s mistreatment should be dismissed or deemed unworthy of investigation.

4.   Should the Royal Commission look into violence and abuse in all settings (places where abuse might happen)? [Again, the options here are: Yes; No; I’m not sure]

Yes!

If the Royal Commission does not look into all the settings in which the mistreatment of people with disability occurs then the Government are tacitly condoning mistreatment in those settings and the behaviour of those in authority. People with disability should be safe in all settings.

5.   Thinking about the different settings where violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation may take place, please rate how much of a priority you think each of the following settings should be in this Royal Commission [Again, the scale gives the following priority options for each suggested setting in which mistreatment of people with disability may have occurred: Essential; High Priority; Medium Priority; Low Priority; Not a Priority]

  • – Prisons and corrective services – High Priority
  • – Educational settings – High Priority
  • – Workplaces – Essential
  • – Disability services – Essential
  • – Health and hospital settings – High Priority
  • – Shared living (group homes, rooming houses, hostels) – Essential
  • – Private homes – Medium Priority
  • – Transport – Medium Priority
  • – Religious and cultural settings – Medium Priority
  • – Sporting and recreational settings – Medium Priority
  • – Other (please specify)

Are there any settings (places where abuse might happen) that you think the Royal Commission should not cover? Please write them in the space below:

No!

All settings in which violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability should be covered. No setting administrator’s negligence should escape scrutiny. No victim’s mistreatment should be dismissed or deemed unworthy of investigation.

6.   Should the Royal Commission look at all aspects of quality and safety of services to people with disability? For example, this would include supports and services provided by government and institutions, as well as informal supports provided by institutions, carers or others in the community. [Again, the options here are: Yes; No; I’m not sure]

Yes!

As has been stated above, PDA believes that all Australians need to know how widespread and ubiquitous the mistreatment of people with disability in Australia is. This will result in a lot of pressure on the government to commit to implementing all the recommendations the Commissioners will ensure the Australian public holds them to this commitment.

Is there anything about the quality and safety of services provided to people with disability that you think the Royal Commission should not cover? Please write them in the space below:

No!

All service providers who allowed violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability should be covered. No service provider’s negligence should escape scrutiny. No victim’s mistreatment should be dismissed or deemed unworthy of investigation.

We are interested to know if there are additional considerations the Royal Commission should look into or consider.

8.   Are there particular considerations the Commission should look into in regard to the specific needs, priorities and perspectives of people with disability, with respect to:

  • – age
  • – gender
  • – sexual orientation
  • – intersex status, or
  • – race acknowledging the particular situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability.

Please write any particular things you think need to be considered in the space below.

PDA believes the inquiry should be given the broadest possible remit, however the Commissioners should be mindful that a person’s other attributes (age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and indigeneity) can factor into the nature of their mistreatment.

In particular, we would like to the Commissioners to pay particular attention to people with a disability over 65 (because they are excluded from participation in the NDIS and will not be able to make complaints to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission) and women and girls with disability (because are frequently targeted by sexual predators).

9.   Are there any particular considerations the Royal Commission should look into or consider with regard to the role families, carers, advocates, the workforce and others play in providing care and support to people with disability?

PDA would like the Royal Commission to evaluate the propensity of particular care and support paradigms to facilitate mistreatment of people with a disability. One of PDA’s concerns with the role out of the NDIS is that some archaic care and support practices such as group homes and shared supports that are known to have higher levels of abuse neglect and exploitation of people with disability are being re branded (as Specialist Disability Accommodation and Supported Independent Living respectively) and re-legitimised on the basis that they are cheaper for the NDIA and more profitable for traditional service providers.

10. Are there any other additional areas that you think should be included in the Terms of Reference for this Royal Commission?

As noted in our answer to Question 2, PDA believes that all Australians need to know how widespread and ubiquitous the mistreatment of people with disability in Australia is. This will result in a lot of pressure on the government to commit to implementing all the recommendations the Commissioners will make and ensure the Australian public holds them to this commitment.

As such PDA would like to it explicitly stated in the Terms of Reference that one of the purposes of the inquiry is to gain a thorough understanding of the extent of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability in Australia.

Support during the Royal Commission

It’s important we understand the types of support people might need to be able to participate in the Royal Commission.

11. Which of the following supports do you think are most needed to support people with disability, their families, carers and advocates during this Royal Commission? Please select any that apply.

  • – Support to help people make a submission in the Royal Commission
  • – Counselling or other psychological support
  • – Legal advice or support
  • – Call centre to answer questions about the Royal Commission
  • – Support to attend hearings or community forums
  • – Accessible technology or equipment
  • – Translation and interpreting, including Auslan, captioning and other communication technology or support
  • – Other support to make the Commission accessible (personal support)
  • – Other (please specify) – Whatever support a person with a disability requests

All of the above!

A refusal or reluctance to provide any of these supports potentially disenfranchises people with disability and might make it impossible for them to provide evidence or hear it being presented.

The remainder of the questions ask you about your demographic details (gender, age group, etc.) and place in the disability community.

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One thought on “PDA’s answers to the Royal Commission Terms of Reference Survey

  1. Thank you for the consideration you have given to ALL aspects of disabled abuse. I am so glad to see the inclusion of those disabled over 65 (myself) and the withdrawal of government services as the NDIS rolls out. I will certainly answer the survey.

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