PHOTO: Attorney General John Rau has introduced a bill into South Australian Parliament to protect disabled people from abuse.
MAP: Adelaide 5000
A bill to protect disabled people from abuse from support workers or service providers has been introduced into South Australian Parliament by Attorney-General John Rau.
Mr Rau said the bill would make it a crime for anyone to use undue influence to engage in sexual activity with a person who has a cognitive impairment.
The Attorney-General said it aimed to protect people with an intellectual disability or a brain injury, without undermining their sexual autonomy.
“It basically reverses the onus in terms of the proof that there was no undue influence,” he said.
“It’s, I guess, similar to the situation we have now where the law is very strong on the idea of teachers taking advantage of their students for sexual purposes, being a very bad piece of behaviour.
“We’re basically extending that type of protection to those people who are in a caring or responsible relationship, professionally, with people who have a mental disability.”
Mr Rau said there was universal support for what the bill would try to achieve, but conceded it was a complex area of the law.
“I’m not pretending this is an easy area of the law, it’s not. It is really, really difficult but at the moment there is no particular protection at all for these people,” he said.
“Bear in mind these people are individuals who may not normally be capable of giving what the law would consider to be informed consent. We have to provide some protection for them.”
Mr Rau said the obvious difficulty with the bill was the huge spectrum of people it would cover.
“If you just take people with autism, for example, [in] the spectrum there is enormous between people who are relatively mildly affected to people who are profoundly affected,” he said.
Mr Rau said the introduction of the bill was also part of the Disability Justice Plan already released by the Government.
“There is no perfect answer to this,” he said.
“This is, however, something that the disability justice consultation has strongly come back to me with a message and they want something like this in our legal system, so we’re responding to that request