November 25, 2015

Labor welcomes the Senate Community Affairs Committee’s report into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings.

The findings and recommendations in this report are serious, and they deserve serious consideration.

We thank the committee members for their work in preparing this report. We thank the disability organisations and advocates for their submissions.

Most importantly, we thank the survivors themselves for telling their own stories. Their courage in stepping forward and speaking out will help us change the systems that have profoundly failed them.

Tragically, we know these stories are just a small fraction of the abuse and neglect that has occurred.

The historic and continued abuse of Australians with disability by people who are meant to care for them is a national shame. It demands a national response.

Clearly there are significant, structural flaws in the systems designed to protect vulnerable people from predators; a failure of our legal systems to seek justice for victims; and a failure of governments to ensure the appropriate safeguards are in place. 

This is not the fault of a single person, organisation or government. These failings reflect on all of us.

Now that these crimes, injustices and systemic failings have been laid bare, it is up to all of us to bring about change.

This report should be the first step toward justice for survivors of abuse and their families, not the last step.

For more than a year, Labor has supported calls for an independent national investigation into the abuse, the corruption and the cover-ups.

Today, we repeat our support for such an investigation. We are prepared to work with the government and other stakeholders to make this happen.

Labor will carefully consider all of the findings and recommendations in this report and continue to consult with people with disability, their families and advocates.

We cannot erase the pain and suffering that so many have already experienced. The very least we can do is make sure these injustices cannot keep occurring in modern Australia.



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