Families Australia: submission to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee on the Inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings, including the gender and age related dimensions, and the particular situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability

(This is an extract of the full submission. Please contact Families Australia to request a copy of the full version)

Introduction

Families Australia acknowledges the current National Disability Insurance Scheme consultation process on the Proposal for a National Disability Insurance Scheme Quality and Safeguarding framework.  We strongly support the development of this framework.

Families Australia supports the Inquiry’s focus on the situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability and seeks the Senate Committee’s consideration of the particular issues faced by children and young people with disability (those 0 to 25 years of age) in these communities as well as the broader Australian community.

Families Australia supports the submission from Children with Disability Australia.  While policies and safeguards can be put in place to protect children and young people with disability, Families Australia recognises the negative consequences for those placed in institutional and residential care (Browne 2009)[1].  “Young children in institutional care are more likely to suffer from poor health, physical underdevelopment and deterioration in brain growth, developmental delay and attachment disorders”[2].

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (1990) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) (2006) spell out the rights of children and young people with disability[3].  In ratifying the CRC and the CRPD, Australia undertook to comply with their conditions in preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and other forms of harm in the lives of children with disability.

Families Australia views children and young people with disability as members of families and promotes “…the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community…”  UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).

These children and young people also have legal rights through domestic legislation that protects all community members from criminal and civil wrongs.

Australian governments also have a number of national frameworks and strategies that include mention of children and young people with disability.  These include National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022, and the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020.  While implementation of these frameworks/strategies is progressing, much more needs to done to address the issues facing children and young people with disability.

As an example, the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–2020, and its first and second three year action plans, includes a wide range of priorities and actions that may benefit children and young people with disability but there are few specific actions that refer to children and young people with disability and their families.

Recommendations

  • Families Australia seeks the Senate Committee’s consideration of a recommendation supporting the inclusion of a national priority aimed at achieving better outcomes for children and young people with disability from relevant national frameworks and strategies.
  • Families Australia notes that the institutional and residential settings that can increase the risk of violence, abuse and neglect for children and young people with disability include respite, school and transportation to and from school. Policies and safeguards to protect children and young people in respite, at school and being transported to and from school are critical.

Access to targeted respectful relationship programmes for children and young people with disability and their families to support them to understand and promote healthy and respectful relationships and to recognise and report abuse and neglect is also essential.  Families Australia seeks the Senate Committee’s consideration of a recommendation for the development and implementation of targeted respectful relationship programmes.

 

[1] K Browne (2009) The risk of Harm to Young Children in Institutional Care Save the Children UK.

[2] K Browne (2009) p1. The risk of Harm to Young Children in Institutional Care Save the Children UK.

[3] S. Robinson (2012) p19. Enabling and Protecting: Protective approaches to addressing the abuse and neglect of children and young people with disability. Children with Disability Australia, Melbourne.