25 Sep 2015

Call for laws to protect disabled from abuse

7:57 pm on 25 September 2015

The law does not protect disabled people from domestic violence even though they're more likely to fall victim to it, say disability advocates.

CCS, IHC, and the Disabled Person's Assembly have lodged a joint submission to the government, which is considering changes to the law.

CCS acting chief executive Joy Gunn said abuse by careworkers should be classed as domestic violence rather than an employment dispute.

She said disabled people are up to four times more likely to suffer violence but are not taken seriously.

"What police and the courts need to do is not discount the allegations or concerns raised by disabled people. There is historic evidence that particularly for people with an intellectual disability or learning disability, they are not believed."

Ms Gunn said it should be a crime to withhold aid, like hoists, from disabled people.

Disability group IHC said domestic abuse laws needed to change to reflect the specific needs of the disabled and extra measures should be put in place to make reporting abuse easier.

IHC director of advocacy Trish Grant said disabled people face both higher rates of violence, and struggles that able-bodied people do not.

"Not being able to more away from someone who's being violent because of physical disability, not being able to talk about it or raise attention to what's happening because of communication difficulties or being in an environment where you're not listened to."

Ms Grant said the government needed to establish a public advocate to investigate claims of abuse against the disabled.

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