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"What Accountability in Disability?"

MORE EXPLOSIVE ALLEGATIONS AGAIN CHALLENGE THE
FITNESS OF YOORALLA’S BOARD AND MANAGEMENT

An explosive transcript of evidence provided to the Victorian parliamentary committee inquiring into abuse in the disability sector was published yesterday (24 Feb 2016). It contains further damning allegations about Yooralla, one of Victoria’s largest disability services providers, who are funded in excess of $70 million each year from public funds.

In November 2014 an ABC Four Corners program exposed cases of horrific sexual abuse that occurred at Yooralla.  Those revelations led to the current Parliamentary inquiry.  The evidence detailed in the transcript (link below) was made by Moreen Lyons, a former Yooralla employee.

The transcript of the 15 December 2015 hearing before the Committee makes claims of abuse, cover-ups, failure of duty of care, criminal activity and a gross lack of financial accountability are alleged to have occurred within Yooralla.

Ms Lyons alleges "There has been close to $1 million paid out to persons departing from Yooralla, which [she] would be terming as hush money. Nearly 60 people in an 18-month period were paid money and signed deeds of release which contained gag orders."

Ms Lyons also alleges disabled clients were "ripped off" in Yooralla job programs that paid only $2 per hour. Further, Ms Lyons alleges that Board members participated in deceptive and non-compliant activities. She alleges some Board members had money paid into their partnerships in breach of the requirements of a director in a non-profit organisation.

The breadth and the nature of allegations as made by Ms Lyons to the inquiry raise serious questions that must be addressed. The allegations bring into question whether there have been breaches of the law, including the Disability Act 2006, the Wrongs Act 1958, the Association Incorporation Act 1981 and indeed the Crimes Act.

By reference to the explosive allegations as revealed by the Four Corners program "In Our Care" (24.11.2014) and the jailing of Vinod Kumar for 18 years for the rape and sexual abuse of Yooralla clients, Ms Lyons alleges: "Yooralla management had been told in 2011 there were assaults occurring, but the executive person who sent Kumar back to work to continue abusing and assaulting clients was never disciplined or terminated by Yooralla, and still remains there on full pay". She claims that the employee relations advisor who advised Yooralla management to terminate Kumar's employment was "absolutely bullied, harassed and victimised". She further alleges that despite the 2014 revelations "sexual predators continue to operate undetected across the Yooralla disability sector."

Ms Lyons stated: "It is 12 months since some serious matters were exposed to the media in relation to abuse and cover-ups by Yooralla and essentially the same people remain in place, in highly paid positions. They continue to put their personal interests before their duty of care and well-being to the disabled people accessing services through Yooralla, and they continue to cover-up serious matters."

Ms Lyons’ transcript states that: "I believe that the current executive and board of Yooralla need to be sacked, administrators appointed and a forensic analysis of their financial operation and reporting conducted."

Given the explosive nature of Ms Lyons’ revelations, disability advocates raise serious concern as to why these revelations were not made public sooner. They question why the revelations have been hidden from public view for in excess of two months.

Of greater concern to disability advocates however is that the Committee has failed to require representatives of the Yooralla Board and Executive to appear before the committee to be questioned on the allegations.  This must happen.  If it does not, then the Committee’s inquiry must be condemned as standing for little.

http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/fcdc/inquiries/58th/Abuse_in_disability_services/Transcripts/T062_-_Moreen_Lyons.pdf

For further information contact Sandy Guy, phone 0412 308 390

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