Published: 05 March 2020
Author: Tara Dakin and Amy Olver
What we have learned so far about disability abuse
Royal Commission into disability abuse and neglect
The Royal Commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability is unearthing concerning allegations of abuse and neglect. The Commission was established in April 2019 (see our previous blog by Amy Olver: We welcome the Disability Abuse Royal Commission). The Commission has now released its first progress report which highlights its findings so far and establishes the future course of the Commission.
The Commission’s first report issued late last year is the result of having received 428 submissions, a majority of which were made by the survivors themselves, the family members of survivors with a disability and by paid carers.
Three-quarters of the abuse reported is alleged to have occurred in 2010 or later, and occurred in homes and educational settings. Yooralla Disability Services was the feature of a public hearing in December 2019.
Yooralla a centre of disability abuse
In a public hearing in December 2019, the Commission heard details of the abuse carried out by Vinod Johnny Kumar who worked in a Box Hill residence for the agency.
Mr Kumar would often abuse residents while carrying out his duties, such as while showering residents.
In 2012 he was charged with multiple counts of rape and sexual offences against four individuals with a disability while in the residential care of the Yooralla group. Mr Kumar was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court to 18 years imprisonment and plead guilty to 12 offences. (Sydney Morning Herald: Royal Commission: Neglect and abuse in group homes leave deep scars, and Herald Sun: Yooralla worker Vinod Kumar jailed for raping disabled women).
Upon sentencing, Judge Hampel remarked that it was in 2011 that two reports of inappropriate behaviour were brought to the organisations' attention, one of which involved sexualised behaviour with a male resident. Disturbingly, Yooralla continued to casually employe Mr Kumar, despite these complaints. It was remarked that Mr Kumar, although a casual employee, he was working full-time hours and often was rostered as the only support worker at a residence.
In another case, a former manager of the Yooralla disability centre in Gippsland, Timothy Hadson, has was also sentenced to jail as a result of sexually abusing a client.
In 2015, Mr Hadson pleaded guilty to charges of sexual penetration of a person with a cognitive impairment. (ABC News: Yooralla manager sentenced to four years for abusing client in his care in Gippsland).
Hadson’s victim was a client of his and is autistic with a reduced intellectual capacity. (The Age: Former Yooralla manager jailed for sexual abuse of autistic woman).
What we have learned so far from the Royal Commission
The Commission so far has exposed shocking revelations in relation to the treatment and care of individuals with a disability.
The trajectory for the Commission hopes to unveil the scathing lack of care that has occurred and to bring some form of justice to survivors of abuse.
RCT Law recognises the challenges faced by people with a disability and their loved ones when trying to access justice. Our specialised team can help navigate the legal process and provide advice about the options available to survivors.