Queensland Government Urged to Apologize to Disabled Brothers Found Malnourished and Neglected

The Queensland Government has been recommended by the disability royal commission to issue an apology to two teenage brothers with disabilities who were discovered in a locked room at their Brisbane home, experiencing severe malnourishment and neglect. This distressing case highlights the failure of government agencies to protect vulnerable individuals.

In May 2020, a concerned family friend contacted emergency services after discovering the brothers, referred to as Kaleb and Jonathon, both unclothed and confined to a room with no door handles. Tragically, their father, who was terminally ill, was found deceased in the same residence.

According to the royal commission’s report, the State of Queensland could have done more to prevent the violence, abuse, neglect, and violation of the brothers’ human rights. The commission strongly recommends that the government acknowledges and apologizes for the brothers’ unwarranted suffering.

During the commission’s investigation, it was revealed that government agencies had been involved with the family for up to two decades. Multiple complaints were made to various departments, including child safety, education, housing, health, police, and disability services. Shockingly, some reports indicated that Kaleb, with autism, had been witnessed eating a dog’s bone under the supervision of child safety officers in 2019.

Despite the extensive involvement of government agencies, the Department of Children chief practitioner, Meegan Crawford, stated that legal mandates prevented intervention in Kaleb’s case due to his status as an adult. These circumstances raise important questions about the effectiveness and limitations of child protection policies.

The public hearings of the royal commission focused on the pervasive issue of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disabilities. Through its findings, the commission has made several recommendations, including demands for improved staff training, enhanced involvement of individuals with disabilities in child protection practices, and the expansion of child advocate schemes.

This disturbing case serves as a wake-up call to address the systemic failures that allow such incidents to occur. The Queensland Government must take responsibility, not only by apologizing to Kaleb and Jonathon, but also by implementing comprehensive reforms to ensure the protection and well-being of all individuals with disabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What were the recommendations made by the disability royal commission regarding this case?

The disability royal commission made five recommendations in response to the case of the two brothers with disabilities. These recommendations include improved training for frontline staff, increased involvement of individuals with disabilities in the development of child protection practices, expansion of the child advocate scheme, and an acknowledgement and apology from the State of Queensland for the brothers’ suffering.

What government agencies were involved in this case?

Several Queensland government departments had extensive involvement with the family, including child safety, education, housing, health, police, and disability services. Despite the numerous complaints made, the commission found that more could have been done to prevent the brothers’ mistreatment.

What is the significance of this case?

This case sheds light on the systemic failures that perpetuate the neglect and abuse of individuals with disabilities. It underscores the urgent need for comprehensive reforms to protect vulnerable individuals and highlights the importance of holding government agencies accountable for their actions or lack thereof.

ABC News
Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability