Disability abuse complaints ‘ignored’

Disability abuse complaints ‘ignored’

Alarming new figures reveal that just 3% of 500 child protection complaints in the past four years have resulted in disciplinary action against teachers or school employees.

The data, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, showed that there were 498 allegations of a child protection nature relating to how students with a disability of special needs have been managed over the past four years.

Of the 450 now finalised, 219 were not upheld and 207 were found to involve an incident that “did not amount to misconduct”. Ten were deemed reportable conduct to the NSW Ombudsman but not serious enough for any disciplinary action.

However, just 14 led to remedial action.

Greens MP, David Shoebridge, said the figures warranted an independent review by the NSW Ombudsman “at the minimum”.

“If only 5% of complaints resulted in a finding of reportable conduct, this is either a sector where complaints are widely exaggerated – or there is an institutional bias against negative findings,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“Whenever you have a sector that is largely self-regulating you get results like this. It is so low that it should be immediately triggering an independent review by the NSW Ombudsman at a minimum.”

University of Newcastle education lecturer, David Roy, who helped activate a state-wide parliamentary inquiry into special needs students, said he was not surprised after speaking to hundreds of families with disabled children.

“One of the major complaints that are raised in the process by the many parents I have spoken to is about the lack of independence in the way a matter is investigated,” he said.

Piccoli defended the role of the Department’s Employee Performance and Conduct Directorate, which is in charge of investigating the complaints made about schools or overseeing a school’s investigation into its own conduct.

“We investigate every complaint, the department investigates every complaint as it should and depending on the nature of the complaint depends on how it gets investigated if there are issues of child wellbeing,” he said.