The Canberra Times
Letters to the Editor
Disability Advocacy organisations are unfortunately very familiar with situations of violence such as that depicted earlier this week in a disability group home (CT, 15/9/11, pg2). This is not an isolated case. Rather it is common to the living arrangements of people with disabilities.
The article confirmed that police were forced to use standard assault provisions to cope with the situation outlined, as domestic violence laws in the ACT do not currently recognise disability group homes as “households”. This must be changed to allow police to respond as they would to any other situation of domestic violence – by removing the perpetrator. The ACT Government and Legislative Assembly are addressing this, but no timeframe has been indicated.
The widespread nature of this problem, and the continuing resigned acceptance of those in disability services to the presence of violence, is a symptom of the chronic shortfall in funding and supports for the most vulnerable and isolated people with disabilities in our community. It is also a symptom of the continuing failure of accommodation providers to provide housing based on the wishes of the people concerned. Accommodation is generally allocated based on the type of disability, whether someone has access to funds, and how proactive families are in finding the “right place”. Who someone wants to live with is rarely considered.
While people with disabilities live with people in situations that they do not want but are forced to accept, violence will continue to occur. For many this is their only way of expressing the deep despair and frustration of their daily lives. It is completely unacceptable and must be addressed urgently through major systemic change.
16 September 2011