Media Release: Delayed response is delayed action to stop abuse of people with disability

For immediate release: Thursday March 21, 2024

Independent disability advocacy organisations around Australia are today calling for clear deadlines to respond to the landmark Disability Royal Commission (DRC), to stop the epidemic of abuse of people with disability.

‘The recent progress report, and the announcement from the Commonwealth, state and territory governments of a delayed response to the Disability Royal Commission, have no clear timeframes for the urgent action needed to end the violence against so many of us,’ said Jeff Smith, CEO, Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA).

‘The uncertainty caused by the lack of a clear response or timeline is distressing for the many people with disability who spoke to the Disability Royal Commission and want to see change.’

‘People with disability, their families and kin, alongside disability advocacy organisations, have spent many years talking about being abused at school, at work, in prison, at home, by those often trusted to support us.’

‘The Disability Royal Commission laid out a blueprint for overdue changes that would stop the appalling rates of violence and neglect that many people with disability experience every day.’

‘State and territory governments need to commit today to the essential actions that will stop abuse and exploitation of people with disability.’

‘Disability advocacy organisations across the country worked throughout the Disability Royal Commission to support people with disability to tell their stories, and to give evidence about what all levels of government need to do to make the violence stop,’ said Mr Smith.

The Disability Royal Commission recognised the essential role that disability advocates play in helping prevent and control abuse and exploitation of people with disability, and recommended an urgent increase to advocacy funding which governments must act on today.

DANA members, independent disability advocacy organisations from around Australia, are calling for all governments to commit to urgent action, with clear timelines, to respond to the recommendations in the Disability Royal Commission.

‘People with disability on the NDIS and those who aren’t deemed eligible are desperate for equal access to inclusive public services, so they can live a good life. The complexity of issues that people with disability are facing is causing significant distress,’ said Wendy Prowse, CEO, ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service and DANA President.

‘Many of the recommendations are about states like Queensland and could be enacted this year. New measures to fix safeguarding, housing and child protection would be life changing for so many people with disability,’ said Matilda Alexander, CEO, Queensland Advocacy Inc.

‘The Disability Royal Commission recognised that disability advocates play an essential role in helping prevent and control abuse and exploitation and ensuring that people with disability have access to the supports they need. Because of this, the DRC recommended increasing funding support for individual disability advocacy immediately. All advocacy organisations are turning away people with disability because of insufficient funding right and governments can fix this right now,’ said Geoff Southwell, CEO, Leadership Plus, Victoria.

‘West Australia’s prison system came under specific scrutiny from the Disability Royal Commission, and our government needs to act now to stop the hurt and harm to young people with disability,’ said Brendan Cullinan, CEO, People with Disabilities WA.

‘Human services in NSW are at breaking point. This is stretching already insufficient disability advocacy resources and is perpetuating many of the risks identified at the Royal Commission,’ said Kim Roots, CEO, Side By Side Advocacy, NSW.

‘This delay is particularly acute in South Australia, as the state government makes no contribution to essential advocacy services, putting added pressure on people with disability and our organisations,’ said David McGinlay, CEO, Disability Rights Advocacy Service, SA.

‘The Disability Royal Commission recognised the vital role of disability advocacy services play for people with disabilities and their families, yet they are still underfunded particularly in the NT. Both federal and territory governments can fix this by providing adequate funding now. Delaying action means prolonging the suffering of people with disabilities, especially First Nations community members’ said Rachael Bowker, CEO, Darwin Community Legal Centre and Merrilee Cox, CEO, Regional Advocacy Service, NT.

DANA CEO and state and territory member organisations are available for interview.

To arrange an interview please contact