Are Inquiries Read by Anyone?

Another government report has been released finding abuse in the disability sector. This is really serious stuff folks. Taking away people’s wheelchairs when they need it is like tying someone without a wheelchair to the bed. Victorian Disability groups have called for a royal commission. However, here is the problem: there have been a plethora of inquiries in recent years revealing the most appalling things, and I mean tonnes and tonnes of

Here are some: They might seem long and technical, but they often have executive summaries that are worth a read:

Australian Law Reform Commission: Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws– a complex and very long piece couched in non-committal language, but which makes 55 recommendations for reform, having found a yawning chasm of room for improvement in our fulfilment of our human rights obligations. My favourite line from this one is this matter-of-fact statement  “Generally, if a person with a legal disability attempts to make a contract, that contract can be declared ineffective.”

Human Rights Commission: Equal Before the Law- Towards Disability Justice Strategies: This one does not mince words.  Here is a great quote. See the end of this blog for a better one though. ” As a victim of domestic violence I encountered police who just did not see me as worthy of their time. When I became homeless, they thought this was normal as I was a person with a disability” 

The Victorian Law Reform Commission’s report on Guardianship: Of particular concern here is the section on restrictive practices. It essentially found that there was no legal regulation of  what was really a form of imprisonment, that is, keeping people with disabilities in homes and hospitals against their will without any regulation. It admitted there are a whole bunch of people with disabilities “in jail” without any law so to speak.

The Civil Society Shadow Report to the United Nations on our human rights obligations: This goes through every article of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and shows how we are failing as a nation.

.So why hasn’t anything been done?? Well you all know the proverb about those who will not see.

So what does that mean for us?

We shouldn’t give up. Inquiries such as the inquiry into black deaths in custody and the stolen generation have radically changed our society.  A royal commission tends to have a bit more clout than an ordinary report, so calls for one are worth adding our voice to.

We can use social media and our informal networks to get the word out about these reports. Inquiries have a certain ring of authority to them, and so we should try to spread the word when one puts out a report. At law school, where the issues facing 1 in 5 Australians in dealing with the law are so *cough* well-known *cough* (not), I was constantly making jaws drop by saying, “You know the AHRC has found that 9 out of 10 women with intellectual disability will be raped.” (Yes that was what their report said)

Social media is also a very useful alternative way to reach out with your story or that of someone close to you. There are several “wall of shame” groups of Facebook, and  petition sites like change.org if you want to take it a bit further. Videos of serious discrimination and inequality have gone viral on multiple occasions.

 

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