People with disabilities are allegedly being brutally beaten, sexually assaulted, sedated, and isolated in an ‘epidemic’ of abuse, according to the national disability rights body.
Violence, abuse, and neglect of Australia’s disabled people is at an epidemic level, national rights and advocacy organisation People with Disability Australia has said in a detailed submission to the New South Wales parliamentary inquiry into elder abuse.
Those most at risk are older Australians, with almost 60 percent of people with disability in New South Wales over the age of 55.
“Older people with disability experience high rates of violence; with research showing that 75 percent of reported cases of elder abuse involve older people with cognitive impairment,” the submission said.
The organisation is calling for the NSW government to endorse a Royal Commission into the abuse of disabled people around Australia.
It echoes a similar recommendation made by a Senate inquiry in November 2015 after months of investigation.
That inquiry found evidence of abuse of people with a disability in institutional settings was widespread and took many different forms.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert chaired the inquiry
The People with Disability Australia submission details the accounts of victims of such abuse. The group says one man, Vincent, suffered multiple abuses while living in a boarding house.
“When Vincent first arrived at the boarding house, the proprietor beat him every day, punching him in the face and body, causing bleeding and significant bruising. Reportedly all new residents went through this process to teach them who was ‘in charge’.”
“After two weeks they were considered ‘broken in’, and most subsequent beatings were carried out by other residents on the proprietor’s orders. These beatings were so severe that on one occasion, a resident broke his knuckles punching another resident in the face.”
Another account talks about the cruel treatment of older man Milton, who was allegedly sedated after he attempted to escape from a boarding house.
“Following this escape attempt, the proprietor heavily medicated Milton with injections. This rendered Milton incapable of any further action or attempts to leave for months thereafter,” the submission said.
It said other residents were also sedated and it was unclear how such medications were obtained.
“Milton does not know who prescribed these medications, and does not remember another staff member being present when these injections were administered.”
The inquiry was established in September last year and continues to hold public hearings.