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Violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in NSW

Photo: Report reveals atrocious abuse of disabled
The NSW Ombudsman has released a report detailing more than 200 allegations of abuse and neglect of the disabled community.

Cable ties, a dog leash and sheets were among the tools the mother of a young woman with an intellectual disability allegedly used to tie her to her wheelchair and bed.

The harrowing incident is one of more than 200 reported to the NSW ombudsman during an inquiry into the abuse and neglect of adults living with physical and intellectual disabilities across the state.

The resulting report, Abuse and Neglect of Vulnerable Adults in NSW, includes claims of serious human rights abuses by family members including parents, siblings and partners.
More than half (110) the 206 incidents included allegations of abuse or neglect of an adult with an intellectual disability.

Ombudsman Michael Barnes says the inquiry demonstrates that vulnerable adults urgently need better protection.

"The inquiry has identified highly vulnerable adults living in atrocious circumstances and experiencing serious and ongoing abuse and neglect by those they should be able to trust," he said in a statement on Friday.

In one case, a young man with an intellectual disability and autism was allegedly barred from his family home and kept in a cockroach-infested garage where faeces lined the bed and walls.

The environment was so putrid it needed forensic cleaning.

Neighbours witnessed him wandering in the backyard for hours at a time, slapping his face, biting himself, crying out and banging on the door of the family home.

The neighbour saw the man's relatives hit him with a broom if he approached visitors to the house, the report states.

But despite multiple reports of domestic violence to child protection services and police, as well as allegations of unexplained bruising and sexual abuse, the department of community services found insufficient evidence for a guardianship application.

Following the ombudsman's intervention, one was granted.

Another woman with an intellectual disability and epilepsy reportedly arrived at her day program with an infestation of maggots at the site of her feeding tube, with rotting skin in the creases of her body. Her mother was unable to take care of her properly.

The ombudsman's report calls for the establishment of an independent statutory body with investigative powers to examine allegations, as recommended by the NSW Law Reform Commission.

The federal government has to date ignored calls by advocates to extend the Royal Commission into the Aged Care Sector to include all people with disabilities in all settings.

The terms of reference for the royal commission currently only include people with disabilities living in residential aged care.

The NSW ombudsman's inquiry will continue until mid-2019.

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