The aged care royal commission will not be extended to include institutional and residential care for people with disability after a motion to widen its terms of reference was voted down in the Senate.

The royal commission announced by the federal government will look at young people with disability in aged care but the motion,  introduced by Greens disability spokesperson senator Jordon Steele-John, would have significantly broadened its scope.

Commenting after his motion was voted down last night, Senator Steele-John said a huge opportunity had been missed.

“The sentiment is disappointment that the Labor party is playing politics and missing this opportunity for a comprehensive Royal Commission now,” he told Community Care Review.

In parliament last night, Labor said it understood that people with disabilities had been waiting for a royal commission.

But that  would “need to be quite different from an inquiry into the aged-care sector. It would need to cover schools, the community and justice,” Senator Carol Brown said.

She also noted that peak disability groups had called for a separate probe.

Liberal senator Anne Ruston said the government was already engaging in substantial reform to prevent the abuse and neglect of people with disability.

Senator Steele-John, who broke down in parliament earlier this week while calling for the royal commission to be widened, said senators were voting to keep the stories of disabled people silent.

“In voting down this motion this afternoon, the opposition and the government vote to continue the enforced silence of Australia’s disabled people,” he told the house.

Disability groups

Australian disability groups have welcomed the inclusion of young people with disabilities living in aged care facilities in the royal commission and said many people with disability who were unable to gain appropriate support from the NDIS were being pushed into the aged care system.

Disabled People’s Organisation Australia has urged the government to ensure people with disability and their representative organisations were part of the development of terms of reference for the royal commission.

“Unfortunately, there are many more thousands of people with disability who will be dismayed that our ongoing calls for a Royal Commission into violence and abuse against all people with disability have been ignored,” it said.

“People with disability who are over 65 are not eligible for the NDIS, yet the aged care system is not designed to meet their specific disability support needs. They experience considerable inequity in aged care that puts them at significant risk of harm, violence and abuse. Again, the Royal Commission must include these issues.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the royal commission on Sunday, citing “a very disturbing trend” in terms of non-compliance, abuses and failures in care across the sector.

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