Violence against people with disability in their homes

Key issues that emerged from the highly successful 2017 Forum “Walk the Talk: Realising the National Disability Strategy and our Human Rights Promises” were recognised as requiring priority redress, have been identified and classed by QAI as forms of Violence against People with Disability.  The majority of these acts of violence occur in their homes.

A forum was held on the 24th September, 2018 with Guest Speakers Including:  Keynote address from Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwan, Former Senator and Social Campaigner Andrew Bartlett, people with lived experience, supporters and advocates, Dr Natasha Alexander from Consentability, Leona Berrie from Wwild and Ros Williams from Caxton Legal Centre, Rodney Mills & Branko Funda,  and more.  Special Guests – the Actors from the Access and Equity Performing Arts TAFE Maroochydore who performed 5 short vignettes demonstrating the different types of abuses perpetrated against people with disability including sanctioned legal violence.

At the forum QAI launched two booklets written in plain language and illustrated by Hayley Marrs, a talented young artist with a disability were created to inform and raise awareness about these violences and directed to people with disability themselves. Access these brochures online here:

We seek your assistance in distributing these to general practitioners and support services to ensure they reach the target audience. Please contact QAI on 07 3844 4200 or on qai@qai.org.au if you would like to be posted hard copies of these brochures.

We aim to build a specific website in the new year to identify appropriate avenues for assistance to people who experience any of these violences.

Now see the videos recorded at Black Box Theatre with the talented actors for TAFE Maroochydore Access and Equity Performing Arts.

Mate crime

‘Mate crime’ can be perpetrated by friends, family, spouses, neighbours who exert and abuse power over a person with disability. This can be as simple as stealing from them, coercion to acts of crime or acting as an accomplice, and similar to the traits of domestic violence, control the person’s activities or by limiting their contact with other family, friends.

Watch the video now that portrays Mate Crime

Sexual violence, abuse and coercion

The imbalance of power in any relationship can be abused and lead to blackmailing, sexual coercion, intimidation, and the threat of violence. This is especially significant for vulnerable people with disability and particularly for women and girls. However the abusers can be family members, partners, support workers or others in a position of control either financially or where the person must depend on their goodwill or assistance.

Financial abuse and abuse of power

Similar to financial abuse of elderly people, this form of theft can be perpetrated by friends, family, spouses, neighbours who exert and abuse power over a person with disability. This can be as simple as stealing from them, misuse of finances, exploitation, emotional/psychological abuse, social isolation, power imbalance, gaslighting, and fear of repercussions. People with disability may be without food, become homeless because of this theft.

Section 216 Criminal Code - Right to relationships and family

Section 216 of the Queensland Criminal Code was designed to offer legal recourse and protection for vulnerable people with intellectual impairment who have been sexually abused and exploited. It hasn’t prevented any of those violences. Instead it conveys a message that people with disability could not and should not have the same rights to relationships enjoyed by everyone. It conveys the message that people with disability cannot be effective parents, and that sexual expressions and freedoms if exercised are somehow deviant or inappropriate. People are denied the opportunities to find love, marry and to have children. This archaic legislation has been the foundation for forced or coerced sterilisation of men and women, boys and girls, and created the mindset to remove children and babies from their loving parents, mostly without due cause. It’s time to put an end to Section 216.

Restrictive practices

People with disability often experience violence in their homes when they are forced to live in circumstances not of their choosing. Denied of the right to live where, how and whom they wish can result in violence, abuse and or neglect. Restrictive Practices are often used by services providers in these circumstances.

Launch of forum and keynote speakers

Launch of the Violence against people with disability in their homes forum, held at Brisbane City Hall Ithaca Room on Monday 24th September, 2018. 

Morning Session of Keynote Speakers at the launch of resources including pamphlets created by artist Hayley Marrs.

Acknowledgement to Country by QAI President Byron Albury

Overview and introduction by QAI Director Michelle O’Flynn

Keynote Speaker AHRC Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin

Keynote Speaker Andrew Bartlett – former Senator and Social Campaigner

Guest Speaker Matthew Lupi – Snr. Executive Director of Disability Accommodation, Respite and Forensic Services