Defending the Vulnerable

The test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members

Why it Matters

Pearl Buck once said thatthe test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members. I believe this to be true. Regardless of age, ability or social status, every person has an inherent value and deserves to be treated with dignity. I am passionate about advocating for the protection of our most vulnerable people, as I have witnessed firsthand some of the abuse that they have faced.

Before coming to Parliament, I worked in the disability and mental health field.  My doctorate concentrated on disability and human rights in Australia.  I went on to work as a Research Fellow in areas of best practice, particularly with people with intellectual disability and dementia.

People with disability remain the most vulnerable population in Victoria today.  They are much more likely to experience abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation than other populations.

Older Victorians are at increased risk of elder abuse, with many cases going undetected.  Many are living in poverty and without adequate supports.

Terminally and chronically ill Victorians do not automatically gain access to needed palliative care. In fact, palliative care is so patchy that many are living in unnecessary discomfort with chronic conditions or at the end of their lives.  


My Solution

We can and must do better for our vulnerable populations.

People with disabilities:

  • Gaps in the NDIS must be monitored and filled by the state government;
  • Employment solutions must be enhanced to enable more people with disabilities to gain meaningful employment; and
  • A respite centre needs to be built as a matter of priority in the West to assist families struggling with the day-to-day and constant care of children with high care needs.

Older Victorians:

  • Assist more senior Australians to age in place.  This will include addressing the risk of homelessness many are experiencing, as well as investing in affordable housing for older Victorians.
  • Increased awareness of elder abuse and a better response to reporting of this abuse.

Terminally ill Victorians:

  • Repeal the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017, and replace it with fully funded palliative care across Victoria.  To date, millions of dollars have been expended on setting up a program to legally kill terminally ill Victorians.  This money should be used to assist people to live their last days with dignity (including pain relief and a choice in where to die) rather than assisted suicide being promoted.

What I’ve Done

Rachel addressing Parliament on behalf of the vulnerable

People with disabilities:

  • Raised disability-related issues throughout my time in parliament, from assistance dogs for people with autism to systemic gaps in NDIS services.
  • Worked closely with disability organisations such as Mambourin and National Disability Services, to raise their concerns in parliament.  
  • In 2016 I hosted an exhibition in Parliament House for Australian Disability Enterprises to showcase the incredible work that they do, and invited my fellow MPs to attend to find out how their offices could make use of the wide variety of goods and services provided. 

Older Victorians:

  • Raised the issue of elder abuse on a number of occasions including through debate on justice legislation and sponsoring an e-petition.

Terminally ill Victorians:

  • Fought against the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in 2017, and promoted palliative care solutions.

Have Your Say:


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  • Mia Marevic
    followed this page 2018-09-25 17:06:48 +1000
  • Rachel Carling-Jenkins Mp
    published this page in Policies 2018-09-25 15:33:31 +1000
Rachel Carling-Jenkins Independent for Werribee