Media Releases

Green light to abusers as funding axed for Communication Partner Service; the voice of people with disabilities.

Media Release Dignity Party
3 December 2018

Green light to abusers as funding axed for Communication Partner Service; the voice of people with disabilities.

The State Government’s recent axing of funding to a service that provides voice to people with disability when dealing with the legal system has angered advocates and parents.

Today, the Marshall Government has made a mockery of celebrations on International Day of People with Disabilities. Dignity Party President, Rick Neagle, says that this is a smack in the face for the disability sector and demands that the Government of the Day reverses its decision.

“Former Dignity Party MLC, Kelly Vincent, parents and advocacy groups worked long and hard with the former Labor government to create a Disability Justice Plan and to legislate a right to justice for vulnerable adults and children.”

In 2016, then Attorney General, John Rau, allocated almost $1.4 million over four years for Uniting Communities to implement a service that trains volunteers to assist people with complex communication needs when in touch with the legal system, including criminal matters.

Mr Neagle says the Communication Partner Service is crucial to providing justice for adults and children who communicate in alternative ways.

“The funding ceases in February 2020 leaving the service with no capacity to continue and yet again leaving vulnerable adults and children with no voice in police interviews or court.

“This state has seen what happens when vulnerable people cannot give evidence.  We know that cases against alleged paedophiles and other abusers will collapse and offenders go free.

“Cutting funding to this service is a green light to abusers and undoes years of essential work.”

Adelaide lawyer and former Dignity Board Member, Tony Kerin, says it will be a very sad day when the funding ends.

“Those people perform a great service and agencies like it. It allows them to get on with their jobs.

“Setting up the service was a step towards enlightenment, but we are going back to where we were – it’s very short-sighted.”

Christine’s step-son was abused by notorious paedophile school bus driver, Brian Perkins.  She’s worried that the issue will fade away “until the next horror is inflicted on our children”.

“30 years later my step-son would rather walk in a hailstorm than get on a mini-bus because bad things happen on mini-buses,” she says.

“No-one understands the long-term impacts on victims and the ripple effect.  It has devastated our family and continues to affect us all.

“Many parents of children and adults with a disability have been hanging onto the idea that our kids would be safe now, but the mat has been pulled out from under us. The funding is a pittance compared to what it will cost families and the government when the next horror comes to light.”