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Disability Discrimination Commissioner calls for urgent action to protect people with disabilities

Disability Disability Rights

Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan is calling for a complete overhaul of governance and complaint handling procedures in services operated for people with disability, following last night’s program on ABC television’s Four Corners.

“It appears that at Yooralla, a large and important provider of services to people with disabilities in Victoria, there was a breakdown of governance and monitoring of the protection of those receiving the services,” said Commissioner Ryan.

The program alleged complaints of sexual assault of clients by one and possibly more male staff members were not acted on immediately. Four Corners reported that this failure to act enabled the predator to commit more acts of abuse.

Ms Ryan welcomes the announcement from the Victorian government and Opposition that they will conduct an inquiry into the disability sector, but says reforms are urgently needed to ensure allegations of sexual assault and abuse are investigated immediately.

“While the main perpetrator of the Yooralla crimes is now serving a long jail sentence, he should have been stopped and dealt with much earlier and potentially prevented others from becoming victims,” she said.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick is backing her colleague’s call for urgent action.

“Today marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and it’s a fitting time take a zero tolerance approach when it comes to women with disabilities, who face extreme vulnerability and need protection,” said Commissioner Broderick.

Media contact: Sarah Bamford (02) 9284 9758 or 0417 957 525