Friday 6 June 2021
Dear sector colleague,
The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability will conduct a public hearing in Adelaide from Monday 7 June at the Adelaide Convention Centre.
The focus of the hearing will be ‘preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in disability services (South Australia)’.
DHS welcomes this investigation and is very supportive of the Commission’s work.
It is vital to shine a light on the experiences of people with disability and the practices of a sector that has undergone major changes over recent years.
The safety and wellbeing of people living with disability is of the utmost importance and, while we’re making real progress, there is still a long way to go and we look forward to considering any recommendations the Royal Commission may make.
Over the last three years, the South Australian Government has listened to and worked closely with people with disability and as a result has implemented some of the strongest safeguards for people with disability ever enacted within our state-run disability services.
Some of the major improvements implemented over the past three years include:
- established the Zero Tolerance to Abuse and Neglect Strategy (PDF 504.0 KB) as part of a new Practice, Quality and Safeguarding Framework
- increased education for staff on how to recognise and report suspected abuse or neglect
- began a pilot of CCTV in disability homes
- established a customer group to self-advocate for a greater voice in their support and access to community
- restructured the service to increase supervision in group homes to better manage and mentor frontline support workers
- established a new quality and practice portfolio to drive improvements in service delivery to customers
- ongoing and robust internal and external auditing.
In addition to these improvements within government-run services, further reforms to safeguarding systems are making a difference to all people with disability, including:
- expansion of the Adult Safeguarding Unit to respond to reports or concerns of abuse for adults with disability
- additional $1.8 million over three years to continue the work of the Disability Advocate and establish a new individual disability advocacy service in South Australia
- implemented new information sharing guidelines between state agencies and the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission
- introduced legislation to establish a new authorisation scheme to govern the use of restrictive practices on people with disability.
All of the above reforms build on the solid foundation provided by South Australia’s ground-breaking Disability Inclusion Act 2018 (SA). The Act, which provides a legal framework to support equal access and participation for people with disability in the community, is supported by Inclusive SA, South Australia’s first Disability Inclusion Plan.
Reforms to strengthen safeguarding systems and practices, combined with initiatives that empower people with disability to be active and recognised contributors to their communities, will over time ensure we can prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation before it happens.
We are uniquely positioned in the public sector to pave the way to reducing the barriers faced by people living with disability and look forward to continuing our efforts to promote positive action.
All public hearings of the Royal Commission are recorded and streamed live on the Royal Commission website, and have live captioning and Auslan-English interpreters.
For further information on the Adelaide public hearing, please visit the Disability Royal Commission website.
(Kaurna, thank you)