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Mr River Night
National Disability Sector Advocate
“Those of us that are closely involved have our copy of the Disability Royal Commission and it is a big read”, said Mr River Night, National Disability Advocate, today.
“This week I have been asked what I thought of the 222 recommendations. I am surprised there are not more.
“Disability is a part of people’s lives in every community in Australia, every industry, every educational setting, business, service and profession. We need radical change as a community and to safeguard people living with disability, especially those that are our most vulnerable, without the capacity to self-advocate. All levels of government, all agencies and multiple legislative tools, policy and strategic planning must be reformed.
“I encourage all Australians to take time and read some of the stories included in the 3 volumes of text from those interviewed. For some sobering statistics perhaps start with Volume 3 which outlines the nature and extent of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. One cohort alone, including those who have a head injury, stroke or brain damage, reported that a staggering 72.6% had experienced violence since age 15yo.
“You can see within the Royal Commission’s statistics that people living with disability are more than twice as likely to experience sexual assault since the age of 15yo.
“When the research shows that more than half of people living with a head/brain injury, psychological, intellectual, sensory or physical disability have experienced violence since the age of 15yo you can appreciate why the community has reached it’s tolerance level to lengthy reform processes, committees, lip service without action and just like most government voice messages say, we reserve the right to be treated with respect.
“Speaking to people living with disability around Australia, service providers and government agencies this week, the priority on many people’s minds is safeguards. This includes urgently reintroducing community visitors and people checking on those who cannot self-advocate confidently and make sure people are ok.
“People are being hurt, assaulted and exploited and those that do it purposefully know exactly who to target and how to do it. The ‘honour system’ that relies on services self-reporting is as good as all drivers in Australia ‘Pinky-swearing’ not to break the speed limit and our police force retiring speed guns and traps because ‘it’ll be right mate’.
“The Disability Royal Commission has proven the extent and seriousness of the issues and many of them do not require more and more funds but making sure funds are used efficiently. Preventing time waste and getting back to basics instead of massive investment in huge projects that don’t safeguard people in practical ways on the ground.
“For those that are motivated primarily by money and cost, there are sobering statistics to consider that the Disability Royal Commission outlined, regarding the economic cost of violence, abuse and exploitation of people living with disability as identified Taylor Fry and the Centre for International Economics (2022).
“The annual economic cost in Australia and impact of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation is estimated to be 46 billion, with 18.3 billion in economic impacts for interpersonal violence and 27.7 billion relating to system neglect.
“If the human reason for caring about and funding services for people living with disability isn’t enough for you then consider the 46 billion dollar price tag cost of not investing in safeguards and ceasing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people living with disability.