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Down Syndrome NSW
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Friday, 26 May 2017

Down Syndrome Australia welcomes Labor’s Support for a Royal Commission into institutional abuse of people with a disability

Down Syndrome Australia
26 May 2017
Down Syndrome Australia welcomes the Labor Party’s announcement today that they will support a Royal Commission into institutional abuse of people with a disability. 
Down Syndrome Australia, along with many other organisations in the sector has long supported the establishment of a Royal Commission. A Royal Commission would provide a comprehensive, independent review into long standing issues of abuse and will enable people with a disability to tell their stories and will provide justice for victims. It would also make important recommendations on reform, policy, and practices to address issues of abuse. 
This decision by the Labor Party follows a 2015 Senate Inquiry into Violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings that found that abuse against people with a disability was ‘epidemic’’ and recommended a Royal Commission. Recent media reports have provided further evidence of the problems which are occurring in some residential settings. 
Down Syndrome Australia CEO Dr Ellen Skladzien said, “We are pleased that the Labor party has committed to supporting a Royal Commission. We renew our call for the Government to initiate a Royal Commission into violence against people with a disability. For too long violence and abuse against people with a disability has been overlooked.”

Labor Party statement to advocates for a Royal Commission into violence and abuse against people with disability
Hon Bill Shorten MP, Leader of the Opposition, Senator Carol Brown, Shadow Minister for Disability and Carers, Hon Jenny Macklin MP. Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, 26 May 2017
Today we announced that a Labor Government will establish a Royal Commission into violence and abuse against people with disability.

We have listened to people with disability and their families who have clearly stated that they want to see a Royal Commission into these reports of abuse.

As you and so many others have said, a Royal Commission is necessary because:
  • It provides people with disability, their families and carers with an opportunity to tell their stories to the highest level and seek justice; 
  • A Royal Commission becomes part of a national healing process; 
  • A Royal Commission can compel witnesses, evidence and testimony, where other forms of inquiry cannot, and 
  • A Royal Commission is able to make recommendations and findings, fully independent of all areas of government and the non‐government sector. 
Incidents of sexual and physical abuse are totally unacceptable.

Unfortunately, we know that people with disability experience much higher rates of violence than the rest of the community, and in many cases, this violence occurs in places where they are meant to be receiving support.

Labor has been urging the Government to take immediate action to ensure that reports of abuse are thoroughly investigated by a Royal Commission.

Labor calls on the Turnbull Government to begin the work to establish a Royal Commission immediately. If they don’t, a Shorten Labor Government will get this done.

The voices of people who have been abused must be heard. We will not allow these sickening incidents to be swept under the carpet.

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