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Disability abuse costs Australia economy billions

man in wheelchair at home

The Royal Commission has published a research report titled Economic Cost of Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability. It estimates that the economic costs of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation (maltreatment) of people living with disability is $46 billion annually, or $9,600 on average per person with disability.

There are 4.8 million people living with disability in Australia (19% of the total population) and half are over the age of 65.

To estimate the economic cost, the report calculated the expenditure that would be avoided if violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation ceased. This figure is based on statistics available for the years 2021 to 2022.

‘Economic costs’ take into account:

  • systemic failures and neglect ($27.7 billion) – this includes failure by government, business and other systems to provide equal opportunity to participate in the economy and equal access to quality services. Costs include loss in labour force productivity and costs associated with lack of accessible housing and
  • interpersonal maltreatment perpetrated by individuals ($18.3 billion) – costs include additional hospital stays due to maltreatment and reduced quality of life.

Other notable findings include:

  • 60% of people living with disability experienced maltreatment perpetrated by an adult and 28% of children with disability experienced significant child peer bullying;
  • The average cost of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation per person is double for First Nations people.

The report also states costs would likely be higher if more information was available. Substantial savings can be made over time if governments and society are successful in addressing maltreatment, including issues of systemic failure and neglect.

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