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Symposium launches new research on abuse prevention for young people with disability


Aine Healy, 0418 450 717, [email protected]
12 February 2018

Being physically safe, emotionally safe, having access needs met and feeling capable have been identified by young people with disability as the four key factors fundamental to a creating a sense of safety and preventing abuse.

Southern Cross University researchers will tomorrow (Tuesday 13 February) launch a new research report on safety and abuse prevention for young people with disability, at a symposium at the Sydney Masonic Centre.

Lead researcher and author, Associate Professor Sally Robinson from the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University, said more than 70 people will attend the invite-only event, which has attracted a strong response from high-level policy makers and statutory bodies.

She said the event will be co-hosted by young people with disability. It will promote new dialogues and ways of addressing longstanding policy questions.

“This event will showcase new national research which is grounded in the stories, priorities and ideas of young people with disability about promoting safety and preventing abuse,” Professor Robinson said.

The report, entitled Preventing abuse and promoting personal safety in young people with disability, will be officially launched at the Sydney event 'Right Here Right Now' by the Australian Human Rights Commission Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin. He will be joined by representatives from more than 30 key agencies, statutory bodies, advocacy groups and organisations that work in abuse prevention.

The guest speakers will critically discuss a series of the report’s key findings, emphasising their relevance for current national and state policy and practice.

Professor Robinson said there was a clear message from the young people with disability who co-designed and conducted the research: their personal safety is poorly considered in current policies and services and improvement is needed.

One young person involved in the research said: “the way I see it is that it’s not your skin that gets damaged but your insides that do”. Another young person shared: “to keep safe is to look after each other… so we have each other’s back”.

“This research provides an in-depth understanding of what ‘being safe’ means to young people with disability, what helps and hinders them to feel and be safe, and how their concerns about safety are perceived and responded to by other people,” Professor Robinson said.

“It is absolutely the right time to act and this research provides a clear framework and imperative to do so.”

The symposium will be the largest gathering of its kind since the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse were released late last year. It also follows the announcement that an independent Commonwealth body is being established to oversee the delivery of quality support and services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The report is available at