The call for a Royal Commission into the aged care sector has been met with mixed emotions, as the inquiry takes aim at young people with disability living in residential aged care homes.
With calls for an investigation into the violence and abuse of all people with disability for over five years, disability advocates and organisations have taken to social media to voice their opinion on the announcement made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday.
Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) says it welcomes the Royal Commission labelling it a “critical opportunity for the many thousands of older people with disability to have their voices heard and obtain justice for the violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect they have experienced.”
However, there are concerns ongoing calls for a Royal Commission into the violence and abuse of all people with disability have been all but ignored.
A report released in June by the Summer Foundation highlighted approximately 6,200 people under the age of 65 living in residential aged care across the country.
The callsfor a Royal Commission into all people with disability have been backed by evidence in a 2015 Senate Enquiry, with over 260 civil society groups and over 100 academics voicing their support in 2017.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says “we must be informed and address the widespread issue of neglect, abuse and negligence of people in aged care facilities.”
“As a community we expect high standards for the quality and safety of aged care services. Our Government shares these expectations. This Royal Commission will be about proactively determining what we need to do in the future to ensure these expectations can be met.”
“Incidences of older people being hurt by failures of care simply cannot be explained or excused. I also want to be assured about the care provided to younger Australians living in residential aged care facilities.”
Disability Commissioner, Alastair McEwin expressed his approval of the announcement.
“I welcome the announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison MP of a Royal Commission into aged care. In particular it will shine a light on the issue of young people with disability in aged care facilities. They shouldn’t be in those institutions but rather living in the community.”
DPO Australia spokesperson Therese Sands describes the evidence as “extensive and compelling” and says the violence against all people with disability “cannot be ignored.”
“Violence and abuse of people with disability is systemic,” she says.
“Recent data shows that the introduction of the NDIS has meant only 23 young people with disability have been able to leave aged care facilities. This is a disgrace.”
Ms Sands says the Royal Commission must look into people with disability who are unable to get the essential supports they need under the NDIS and are therefore forced into aged care.
Many advocates took to Twitter to express their thoughts.
“We need the Royal Commission to cover the abuse of people with disability in residential centres and group homes, not just nursing homes. So much abuse going on,” David Briggs says.
“Thank you Scott Morrison for starting a Royal Commission into aged care - I hear gruesome and terrible things including from disabled people. We also need disinfecting sunlight on the horrors in disability institutions. It’s also the right thing to do,” Craig Wallace says.
“We need a Royal Commission into violence and abuse against people with disabilities. We should not be a footnote in the Commission into aged care,” Clare Moore says.
“It’s starting to feel like there can be a Royal Commission about just about anything except violence and abuse of people with disability (as unanimously recommended by the Senate),” Christina Ryan says.
Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) hopes the Royal Commission into aged care including young people with disability in aged care will set a precursor for an inquiry into misconduct against all people with disability.
“Good call Scott Morrison. And makes the case for the disability abuse Royal Commission utterly incontestable.”
The Royal Commission will mainly look at the quality of care provided to older Australians accessing residential aged care and home care, as well as young people with disabilities living in residential aged care settings.
No date has been set yet for the Royal Commission although Mr Morrison says it would begin before the election and run until the second half of 2019.
The announcement has come 24 hours before an ABC Four Corners investigation into the horrific abuse and neglect of older Australians in aged care.