'Enough Is Enough': Disability Abuse Victims Meet With Opposition Leader
Disability abuse victims and their families have met with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in Melbourne before making an emotional plea for a royal commission.
Shorten heard stories of violence suffered at disabled schools and institutions, including the tale of a mother whose autistic son was tied up with rope, put in a tent and thrown against a door.
Deborah Frith was horrified when she recently discovered her seven-year-old son had been repeatedly assaulted by staff at an autistic school in Melbourne's southeast.
"This began at the tender age of four years old, when he was put in a tent and a cupboard," she said on Saturday.
"Recently he was tied up with rope and put in a confined space, restrained forcefully by staff."
Frith said her son was also pulled by his limbs, put in isolation and once "catapulted against a glass door".
"He's been dehumanised, assaulted, falsely imprisoned, and dumbed down, having little to no education," she said.
"This is a child who is teachable and manageable with the right professional supports. He's very much celebrated by his family."
The boy was recently removed from the school and a complaint was made to the Human Rights Commission and police.
Frith said a royal commission was needed urgently, believing cases like her son's were common and part of a "systemic culture of abuse".
"I can't help but think that had this royal commission happened earlier, this may not have happened to my child," she said.
"Enough is enough."
Shorten echoed these sentiments, saying a royal commission was "tremendously overdue".
He called on the Australian government to vote in favour of a full-scale inquiry when it decides on the issue in Canberra on Monday.
"There is no more unexamined corner of the life of Australia than the abuse and violence experienced by people with disability," he said on Saturday.
He said Australia had made some progress on disability issues, noting the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
But the nation still had "unfinished business".
"You measure the worth of a society not just by how rich it is, or by how many gold medals it can win at the Olympics," he said.
"You measure the worth of a society by the circumstances in which our least advantaged live."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the motion would pass when it came before the House of Representatives on Monday after it was held up last week.
"I'm not going to play politics with disabilities," he said on Saturday.
"I'm going to be focused on dealing with the needs of disabled Australians and their families."
Shorten said that in the last year more than half of school students with a disability reported bullying.
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