The Australian Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA) is appalled at the report on last night’s ABC 7.30 program about the abuse and restraint of a student with disability.
“This is not an issue of one ‘bad’ school, one ‘bad’ teacher or one ‘bad’ education system – it is clearly a national, systemic issue that needs to be urgently addressed,” said Therese Sands, spokesperson for ACDA.
“There have now been numerous reports across Australia where students with disability are being locked in so-called ‘withdrawal spaces’, such as cages and cupboards under the guise of behaviour management plans and strategies”.
“There is never any justification for treating children with disability in this way, and these practices must end,” said Ms Sands.
In 2015, the Senate Inquiry into violence against people with disability found that violence and abuse of people with disability was extremely widespread across Australia. The Committee recommended that a Royal Commission be held to expose the full extent of this violence and abuse.
“This Inquiry found evidence of violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability in every State and Territory, in schools, in group homes and other institutions, and in places where people are meant to be safe,” said Ms Sands.
“The Committee also said that the use of restrictive practices in schools, such as locking children in cages, must be eliminated as a national priority and that the Australian Government should work with State and Territory governments to ensure that these practices are not part of behaviour management strategies”.
“It is vital that an independent national protection body, with broad powers and functions be established to examine all allegations of violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability and ensure consistent standards,” said Ms Sands.
In June this year, a group of disability advocates and organisations, including ACDA member, People with Disability Australia, provided 55 cases of human rights violations against children with disability in Australian schools to the United Nations for investigation.
“The time for national action on this issue is now. The ACDA is aware that the Australian Government is currently considering the recommendations from the Senate Committee report. We urge the Government to establish a Royal Commission and to adopt the recommendations of the report,” said Ms Sands
PWDA Media and Communication Manager
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The Australian Cross Disability Alliance is an alliance of four national Disabled People’s Organisations (organisations made up of and led by people with disability). The ACDA was founded by, and is made up of the First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) representing people with disability from a culturally and linguistically diverse background, People with Disability Australia (PWDA) a national cross disability organisation and Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), the national organisation representing women and girls with disability.