White Flower Memorial: disability advocates remember those lost to violence

A White Flower Memorial was held for people to commemorate the life of Kwinana autistic teenager Aaron Pajich.
A White Flower Memorial was held for people to commemorate the life of Kwinana autistic teenager Aaron Pajich.

ABOUT 30 people attended a memorial service to remember disabled people lost to violence and to commemorate the life of autistic Kwinana teenager Aaron Pajich.

Two women were found guilty of murdering Mr Pajich in November and are due to be sentenced in February.

Disability Clothesline convenor Samantha Connor said Aaron’s murder highlighted the urgent need for action and legislation, including hate crime legislation.

“During Aaron’s trial, dozens of disability activists attended every day to show their solidarity for Aaron and his family,” she said.

Aaron Pajich.

“We are tired of reading media reports about our murders and angry about the lack of recognition about what is an unaddressed, burning issue.

“The average life expectancy of an intellectually disabled person in this country from preventable conditions, including violence, neglect and abuse, is 54 years of age – why is this not on the front page of every newspaper?”

Disability and autism advocacy groups convener Maggie Heynemann said members were calling for action to address a hidden epidemic of violence, neglect and abuse against disabled people.

“There’s an undercurrent of anger about this issue in the disability community,” she said.

“Despite years of fighting, we are still waiting for a Royal Commission into disability violence, abuse and neglect.

“We are waiting for justice for hundreds and thousands of disabled people whose lives have been lost to violence, abuse and neglect.

“We will not ever give up our fight to stop the violence.”

White Flower Memorial spokeswoman Venus Karel read out 96 names at the service in Subiaco.

“This was out of over 900 known names of disabled lives taken due to violence, abuse and neglect,” she said.

“The feeling of the event was deep sadness at the loss of all the lives lost, but beauty in the words spoken – reaffirming the love felt for the people who were lost and who are here with us now, by both disabled people and allies alike.”

Visit www.facebook.com/WhiteFlowerMemorial.