The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability will hold its third public hearing in Melbourne this week, with a particular focus on group homes in Victoria. (Group homes refer to supported accommodation for up to six people with disability.)
The Disability Royal Commission will hear from people with disability about their personal experiences in group homes and from a number of experts and disability advocacy groups, including the Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability (VALiD), Victoria’s peak organisation representing adults with an intellectual disability and their families.
The hearing will be held from Monday 2nd December to Friday 6th December. You can read more about the hearing into group homes on the Royal Commission’s website, and you can watch the hearing as it will be livestreamed from 10:30am this morning.
Group homes issues paper
To coincide with the Melbourne hearing, the Royal Commission has released an Issues Paper about group homes. The paper is available in Easy Read, PDF and DOCX, and is available on the Disability Royal Commission website. Responses from individuals and organisations to the Issues Paper are due by 28 February 2020.
Advocacy, counselling and legal assistance
The Federal Government is investing $140 million in advocacy, counselling and legal assistance services to support people engaging with the Disability Royal Commission over the next three years.
However, it takes time for these supports to be put in place. We would have preferred a longer lead time to ensure that the right supports were in place for people with disability to safely tell their stories to the Disability Royal Commission.
The Disability Royal Commission needs to recognise that some people with disability living in group homes continue to be abused, and that these people live in fear – in fear of further abuse, in fear of retaliation, and in fear that if they complain about that provider, they will have nowhere else to live.
The group most likely to have experienced violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation were people with intellectual disability who have very limited ability to represent themselves, or to explain what happened. This is why it is essential that people with disability have full access to advocacy, counselling and legal assistance which is yet to be fully rolled out.
Below are links to current media stories regarding these issues which include interviews with our members and colleagues:
- Disabled ‘abused, in fear’ in group homes
- People with disability testify at inquiry
- Advocates inundated over disability RC
These stories of abuse and violence against people with disability are sadly nothing new to the disability community. But these stories are not known to the Australian public. They remain our national hidden shame.
This week there will be confronting and disturbing stories in the media. We encourage anyone experiencing distress or traumatic memories to reach out for emotional support via the services below.
Royal Commission – National Counselling and Referral Service
9:00am to 6:00pm weekdays, and 9:00am to 5:00pm weekends
- 1800 421 468 or 02 6146 1468
- TTY users phone 133 677, then ask for 1800 421 468
- Call 13 11 14 (available 24/7 from a landline, payphone or mobile)
- TTY users call 133 677, then ask for 13 11 14
- Text 0477 13 11 14 (6pm to midnight, 7 days a week AEST)