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Call to promote quality in disability services and provide appropriate safeguards


Tuesday 7 September


The Disability Royal Commission has published the Overview of responses to the Safeguards and Quality issues paper.


Responses to the paper called for change that aims to promote quality in disability services and provide appropriate safeguards, ensuring better prevention and responses to instances of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disabilities.


The Overview document is the result of nearly 50 responses to the issues paper.

Respondents proposed a raft of changes for the Royal Commission to consider.


“Many responses expressed significant concerns about a lack of focus on prevention of abuse and neglect of people with disability,” the paper reports. This also includes, “the need to identify the factors that potentially place individuals at higher risk of abuse.”


Responses also highlighted “the critical importance of creating a service culture amongst disability service providers and support workers that respects human rights and does not tolerate violence or other abuses”.


“The importance of recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce committed to the rights of people with disability and monitoring employee compliance with applicable codes and standards,” was also reported.


“Responses also addressed complaints processes, which are meant to be available when abuse or neglect has already occurred or is suspected.”


The document said that fear of retribution held by the person making the complaint, or their supporters, was cited almost universally by respondents commenting on complaints processes.


“We heard from many respondents that the current reliance on complaints as a trigger for response to abuse is inadequate,” the paper reports.


“Service systems focus their resources too narrowly on compliance and managerial approaches in responding to, instead of preventing, abuse.”


One peak body expressed concern that complaints bodies treat serious cases of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation as regulatory breaches, rather than criminal matters to be referred to police, where appropriate.


The Overview of responses addresses a range of issues such as the use of restrictive practices, assuring the quality of service provision and the need for greater emphasis on preventing abuse.


(Edited for grammar and clarity)

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