This is the third of a series of three articles published by the Victorian Disability Services Commissioner (DSC) on Clickability. The DSC is an independent organisation that promotes the rights of people with disability and resolves complaints about disability services in Victoria. Last week, DSC wrote a blog about how to respond to a negative review, and the week before that, they shared valuable insights on how to choose a service provider. We decided to publish this piece as well because it’s so important.

The DSC collates all the complaints that they receive and audits them each year. They collected 1009 complaints in the last 12 months.

In their recent audit, they found that the number of complaints about assault, abuse or neglect has grown by over 300% in the past two years! It’s gone from an average of 6% of all complaints two years ago to 21% in the past 12 months.

Laurie Harkin AM, Disability Services Commissioner, said that greater public awareness about assault, abuse and neglect was one of the factors that contributed to the huge growth in the proportion of complaints that were made about those particular issues.  

This includes awareness among disability support workers, who are now speaking up more often if they see a co-worker behaving inappropriately. In fact, in the past year alone, only 1 of the complaints about assault, abuse and neglect was made by a person with a disability, whereas 33% were from disability support staff. The other complaints were made by family members, friends, or other people close to the victim.

The Commissioner said, “This reinforces the importance of mandatory reporting of abuse by disability staff. They work with people with a disability every day and can see if something is not right.”

It also underlines the importance of having a rigorous Quality and Safeguarding framework around the NDIS, and of investing in staff who are trusted and well trained.

Last Friday, the DSC put their annual report into Parliament. The report highlights the role disability support staff play in reporting about the abuse of people with disability. To check out the whole report, click here.

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