Friday, January 28, 2011

In Australia, justice still elusive for disabled people who are crime victims

From AAP in Australia:

Justice for people with disabilities who are victims of crime remains elusive, Victoria's Public Advocate says.

A landmark Office of the Public Advocate report released on Friday provides a snapshot of people often unable to report violence after suffering abuse in state or privately-run care.

It examines 86 cases, including 66 women and 20 men with cognitive impairments who have been subjected to physical, sexual, psychological and emotional violence, financial abuse and neglect that occurred in the last decade.

Advertisement: Story continues below Public Advocate Colleen Pearce said abuse often recurs because it is either unreported or the response by carers is poorly coordinated.

"Every day somewhere in Victoria there's a person with a mental illness or a disability that's the victim of violence," Ms Pearce told reporters.

"Their plight has largely been ignored over successive years and as a consequence for them justice has been very elusive."

She said a more responsive system is essential to ensure violence is disclosed, victims are removed from inappropriate environments and supported through the criminal justice system.

"We want to see services working together in order to ensure that people aren't falling through the gaps."

Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge welcomed the report, saying the government would be taking action "immediately" but also look at broader issues to cement longer-term change.

"This is an absolutely shocking report that highlights failures across the board and we are absolutely committed to responding positively, not sweeping these issues under the carpet as we've seen over many years in the past," Ms Wooldridge said.

Ms Wooldridge said the coalition will seek support from the parliament for an inquiry into people with intellectual disabilities and their access to the justice system.