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Commissioners ‘appalled’ following Four Corners episode on abusive disability ‘therapy’

Disability Rights
Content type: Media Release
Topic(s): Children, Disability Discrimination

Two of Australia’s human rights leaders have expressed grave concerns in the wake of shocking videos broadcast on ABC’s Four Corners program, which showed children with intellectual disabilities being repeatedly restrained as part of a radical treatment funded by the NDIS. 


The episode highlighted the controversial and abusive practices at Irabina Autism Services in Melbourne, between 2019-2021.  


Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, and National Children’s Commissioner, Anne Hollonds, described the videos, and the methods used during the therapy sessions, as “distressing”, as they today called for stronger measures for safeguarding people with disability, especially children. 


Professor Croucher: “The episode is evidence that the violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disability is ongoing. 


“This unequivocally shows there is an absolute need for a more robust quality and safeguarding model for disability service providers. Providers must have the knowledge and training necessary to understand both why and how such practices must be avoided. 


“We not only want to see better regulation of providers and workers, but ultimately we want a scheme that delivers on positive outcomes for people with disability.  


“We are hopeful that the Disability Royal Commission will make recommendations that address the distressing situations exposed in the episode. The final report is being handed to government on Friday, 29 September. 


"I also hope that the separate review into the NDIS, which is looking into the quality and safeguarding model, will help ensure such practices never occur again.” 


National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds: “This is what happens when child wellbeing is not a bipartisan national priority.” 


“This is yet another example of the disgraceful failure of systems that are meant to support vulnerable children and young people. 


“We have had decades of Royal Commissions and Inquiries with a raft of recommendations to address the failure of systems to safeguard children. Now is the time for a much greater sense of urgency for evidence-based reform.


“Children under 18 years represent 24% of the Australian population and yet their unique needs are routinely overlooked by policymakers, with massive human and economic costs. 


“The ongoing breaches of the human rights of children across Australia will not end unless we take seriously our obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).” 




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