Jordon Steele-John - 'Tonight I seek to speak their names', Demand for extension of royal commission into aged care to include people with disabilities - 2018

16 September 2018, Senate chamber, Canberra, Australia

In seeking to extend terms of royal commission into people abused and neglected in aged care, to include people with disabilities, Jordon Steele-John used parliamentary privilege to name Australians with disabilities who have died in institutional care. Speakola does not enjoy same privilege so will only provide initials.

Thank you Madam Acting Deputy President. Tonight our nation is caught within a moment of decision. Before us now is a question. Will justice be done for disabled people? Although we once again miss the opportunity to ensure that those in our nation who are so often made voiceless remain so. Tonight, I'd like to read from a passage from a speech given by my fellow disability activist and advocate Craig Wallace, who in 2015 as part of the White Flower Memorial to commemorate all those who have died institutional and residential care, spoke to the sorrow and pain of our community.

In concluding he said, "I call for those who have left us to be remembered. For their names and stories to be said out loud in the sunlight and amongst the people who love them." Well tonight, I seek to speak their names and through the sun does not shine in this place, I hope that their stories will move the hearts of those who have it within their power to see justice done. The following names are those who have died in the lead up or subsequent to the Royal Commission Inquiry.

The [ascending 00:01:54] inquiry which called for a Royal Commission. S.W. , age 7. Found locked in a room without sunlight surrounded by faeces. S.W. died from starvation and thirst and weighed only nine kilograms, a third of her expected body weight. She had severe autism and was considered to be profoundly disabled.

L.B., seven years old. Found beaten tortured and finally killed by the people meant to care for him. H.D.B., eight, when she was found in 2013 she was starved suffering from pneumonia and her hair was infested with lice and matted with dirt. I.L., nine, died from a combination of internal injuries which paediatricians were said were caused by blunt force to the stomach, such as a fist. J, 11, who was left to freeze to death in a shed and that he had first been hosed in a water after having faeces rubbed in his face.

L.S. and his younger brother, C.S., 17, who was arrested for a minor driving offence and later bashed by another inmate at the [redacted], died in isolation from a massive brain haemorrhage. B.L., suffered severe learning difficulties and was killed by a family member. J.S., 18, died in state funded ACT care from drowning. L.M, , La.M., 20, returned to her parents' care at 19 despite stating that they could not look after her. Nine months before her death authorities were warned that she would die if the situation was not addressed. Two weeks before her death both of her legs were amputated to attempt to stem infection. She died covered in her own faeces and urine in a room infested with cockroaches.

S.H., 22, a disabled young woman who was unable to speak and reported half dragged and half carried herself from a taxi after a shocking incident, allegedly witnessed by community workers. Later died in hospital in 2016 of septesemia.

C.O., 22. N.S., R.L, found with multiple stab wounds in her chest and abdomen in a group care home. J.V.J. age undisclosed, his care plan stated that he should not be left alone with water because he would drink it without stopping. He died after being left alone in the shower.

C.S. died in a group home. She had a seizure at 2:23 AM that was documented by staff and was found dead seven hours later. S.H., 29 died as a result of medical neglect in an institutionalised setting. S.I., 29, a quadriplegic man who made complaint of sexual assault and misconduct by his carers. He was left face down and suffocated to death.

SL., M.C who died in the same hospital under similar circumstances as S.H. B.P., 33, died after being left unsupervised in a bathtub for an extended period of time. His carers were blamed for negligence.

D.K., died in his respite facility as a result of an unexplained incident in which he broke his neck. He was left of the floor for over an hour after his support workers gave up trying to pull him up. Saying that he was being noncompliant.

D.V.,, M.M. 22 and mother of two who was left naked and covered an faeces at [redacted[ Psychiatric Hospital. A.G., 47, who had a required brain injury as a result of attempted suicide and was placed in the [redacted] Psychiatric Care Centre in my home state of WA. She was raped and assaulted 111 times and died as a result of complications used in the medications used to sedate her. The WA coroner believes this to be an underestimation of the number of times that she was raped.

E.F. died when a pressure sore she had received in their care home became septic. The inquest heard about serious issues in the facility that she lived. J.J., a 51-year-old amputee who died a preventable, avoidable death after a private disability support provider withdrew essential supports. S.D., 55, J & R.F, 68 and 50. A family friend of the three people died in a shooting near [redacted] and says it was a mercy killing. C.T, J.M., J.B.C , 81-year-old, from [redacted] charged over his elderly partner’s apparent mercy killing. Described it as a ‘beautiful act of mercy for his wife’.

These are the names that don't get spoken. These are the reasons. These are the human beings. These are the loved ones, the mother, the father, the sons, the partners, who need justice, who demand justice, whose lives are worth living in whose memory I, tonight wear a white flower and whose passing fills me with an iron clad determination. I will not rest until they find the justice that is so desperately owed them.