Carers Prey on the Vulnerable
Children and People with Disabilities Abused by those they Trust
Herald Sun, Monday, February 13, 2012, by Peter Mickelburough
Vulnerable children and the disabled are being assaulted or sexually attacked by their carers and case workers almost daily.
Records obtained by the Herald Sun reveal for the first time the shocking toll of misery perpetrated by people whose role is to protect the state's most defenceless and fragile.
More than two Department of Human Services clients are attacked every day on average, with almost 1800 assaults, sex attacks or rape allegations reported in 30 months to July last year.
In more than 500 cases state-appointed staff and carers were accused. The state's Public Advocate and Child Safety Commissioner want urgent reform. Public Advocate Colleen Pearce said the toll was "extremely disturbing" and a major issue for the community to deal with.
"Violence against people with a disability is absolutely unacceptable. "For too long alleged violence has been wrongly described as 'incidents' requiring internal management rather than being named and dealt with as alleged crimes."
The department delayed giving the Herald Sun access to the records under Freedom of Information for months.
Child Safety Commissioner, Bernie Geary. said high levels of staff assaults in some areas were indicative of a system struggling to cope.
"These kids are struggling with very difficult issues and it means that people who are working with them need to be committed, trained and resourced."
The father of one of three mentally disabled women left scratched, bruised and traumatised after allegedly being assaulted and raped by a male carer in a DHSrun five-bed supported accommodation house said reliance on poorly paid casual staff was a problem. I'm not surprised (by the level of attacks) because there is too many casual staff," he said.
"They don't pay enough to get the right staff and I still think the checks on staff aren't the best."
The Herald Sun revealed the trio's tragic story in October 2010, when, angered by the department's response, the families of two of the victims spoke out to demand changes to help protect others in care. A police investigation is continuing.
In a separate incident three DHS staff were stood down last March and police called in after the Ombudsman found an assault on a severely disabled mute by his DHS carers, which left him with serious carpet burns, had been covered up.
LISA Comment: Almost everyone puts DHS questionable practices down to remuneration and training. Certainly, we have no question with more of each, so long as corresponding work value expectations are set, monitored and maintained.
At present it is staff 'lore', not management 'law'! As almost all DHS management is ineffective reactive management, failing to properly manage service provision to be within the direction, intention and spirit of departmental care policies, standards and values.
Overall public service remuneration is relatively low, as job security is high, and work expectations are frequently low. It is traditional to join the public service for both job security and low work expectations compared to outside industry