A vote to establish a royal commission is now expected to be passed on Monday.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the case for a royal commission into preventing abuse and neglect and violence against Australians living with a disability is tremendously overdue,” said Mr Shorten, whose party first called for a royal commission in May 2017.
“There is no more unexamined corner of the life of Australia than the abuse and violence experienced by people with a disability,” he said.
“And I hope Scott Morrison realises the mistake he made on Thursday … when instead of having a vote as to whether the Parliament of Australia thinks the people of Australia support a royal commission into the lives of people with a disability suffering violence and neglect … he ran down the clock because he was more worried about appearing that he didn’t control the Parliament than doing the right thing.”
Mr Shorten’s calls for a royal commission were echoed by several parents of children with a disability who had been abused, including Peter and Paula Curotte, who showed graphic images of the injuries sustained by their 33-year-old son, Alexander, while in care late last year.
The Curottes removed their son from care following those incidents in October.
But it was not the first time he had been abused, the Curottes said. In 2000, while in the care of the Victorian Department of Human Services, they said Alexander was smothered under a blanket and ended up with brain damage.
“Alexander had been in care since he was 11,” Mr Curotte explained. “His body bears witness to his life. He has scars all over his body … and he’s been sexually abused.
“Alexander can’t walk, yet when he was with us he could run like the wind … So many things have happened to him that we can’t believe it. But we now realise that this happens to lots of people with a disability.
“And that is why we are saying to the people of Australia and their elected representatives, let’s go for it, let’s get a royal commission and end the violence and abuse and neglect of people with a disability in Australia.”
Mark Modra, whose 30-year-old son, Luke, has autism and a long history of traumatic abuse, broke down as he urged the government to support a royal commission to “make the truth plain for people to see” so that other children and their families “don’t have to suffer” as they have.
Rachel covers general and breaking news for The Age.