3.7 Abuse and neglect

During 2012-16, disability advocates reported assisting 42 people with abuse and neglect issues in an average three-month period.

Number 42 people on average per quarter
Trend generally stable
Rights under the CRPD Governments will:

  • reaffirm that every human being has the inherent right to life and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others (Article 10)
  • take all effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, from being subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 15)
  • take all appropriate measures to prevent all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse by ensuring the provision of information and education on how to avoid, recognize and report instances (Article 16)
  • ensure that all facilities and programmes designed to serve persons with disabilities are effectively monitored by independent authorities (Article 16)
  • take all appropriate measures to promote the physical, cognitive and psychological recovery, rehabilitation and social reintegration of persons with disabilities who become victims of any form of exploitation, violence or abuse (Article 16)
  • put in place effective legislation and policies, including women- and child-focused legislation and policies, to ensure that instances of exploitation, violence and abuse against persons with disabilities are identified, investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted (Article 16)
Commitments in the State Disability Plan The Victorian government will:

  • fund a range of initiatives to meet our commitments to Victorians with a disability who are experiencing family violence (Key Priority 7)
  • commit to strengthening the disability advocacy sector, including longer-term reform to ensure Victoria has a strong and sustainable disability advocacy and self-advocacy sector (Key Priority 8)
  • strengthen safeguards, including a building a culture of zero tolerance, developing a Victorian disability abuse prevention strategy, and developing a restrictive practices framework across DHHS (Action 19)



While the data series is fluctuating, there is an observable increase in cases relating to abuse and neglect in the final year of data, with a spike in the September 2015 quarter (figure 14). This increase may be related to the significant number of public inquiries into disability abuse that occurred at a similar time.

In 2016 both a Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Abuse in Disability Services and the Victorian Ombudsman’s Investigation into Disability Abuse Reporting were tabled. These reports identified abuse and neglect of people with disability occurs all too frequently and is significantly under-reported due to people’s fears of making complaints, and poor processes. In response, the Victorian government has announced of a ‘zero tolerance approach’ to abuse of people with disability and increased oversight powers.


Figure 14: Reports of Abuse and Neglect


Case study: Escaping Family Violence

Jing*, from an Asian background, was unable to speak or understand English. She was suffering from depression and caring for 2 children with disabilities. Jing was facing violence at home and needed access to long term secure housing and to be connected to family services. She engaged an advocate to assist with these issues. The advocate assisted Jing in completing housing application and connected her with the family violence centre. Jing was allocated a case worker and connected to services such as counselling. Unfortunately Jing was unable to find long term housing due to long waiting lists, however, she now has an emergency action plan.

*names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals