Disabled abuse victims may get compo
A Sydney-based disability services provider will consider offering financial compensation to a number of young men abused at one of its day programs.
The service has conceded it could have done more to help the victims but has not yet considered the issue of redress despite the conviction and jailing of the carer involved more than a year ago.
Its immediate response to the abuse was also inadequate, with the organisation failing to proactively engage with the victims or their families, an inquiry has been told.
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The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has wrapped up a week-long hearing into the services provided by the Australian Foundation for Disability, also known as Afford.
It focused on the day programs provided at Mt Druitt in western Sydney, where three disabled men were abused in 2019.
Former carer Daniel Nuumaalii was in April 2021 jailed for more than three years after pleading guilty to a number of offences.
His conduct included recording and sharing intimate images and videos of the young men as well as hitting and taunting them.
In evidence on Friday, Afford Chairman Mike Allen said he did not understand why more was not done to support the clients and families and why the organisation did not immediately check if others might have been abused.
There was also no formal investigation into the circumstances that led to the abuse.
Mr Allen said the board had sought assurances from the then chief executive that everything that could reasonably be done, was being done.
“In hindsight, clearly there was more the board should have done,” he said.
Earlier this week the mothers of the three abused men told the commission they had not been offered a formal apology or compensation.
One of the mothers said she had not even been contacted by Afford after Nuumaalii’s offending came to light.
Mr Allen said he was “shocked, surprised and deeply saddened” to hear their evidence and now knew the former chief executive had not offered them a formal apology, despite indicating that he had.
“I would have expected that’s the very least that he would have said,” the chairman said.
Mr Allen told the commission Afford now needed to look at a range of measures in relation to the victims, including financial compensation, but had not yet considered the overall question of redress.
“There are a range of ways that redress can be provided and having heard the evidence of the families earlier this week, that is a matter that I will take up with the board,” he said.
In other evidence on Friday, the commission conducted a lengthy analysis of the reporting to the board by Afford’s former chief executive which focused heavily on him and the group’s strong financial performance but often made little mention of its clients or the delivery and quality of its services.
At one stage Counsel Assisting Pat Griffin described some of the reporting as “narcissism gone mad”.
Commission chairman Ronald Sackville questioned whether the language used in the reporting and other material was indicative of a dysfunctional organisation.
He said he found it difficult to understand how the chief executive had lasted so long in the role in light of his complete failure to recognise, understand and implement the overriding goal to keep the health, wellbeing, and safety of Afford’s participants at the forefront of its operations.
The commission has been adjourned ahead of its next public hearing in Canberra next month.