Culture of fear throughout…
Throughout the range of support services for vulnerable people, disability and aged-care, there is a traditional culture of fear to speak out – fear to question – fear to even ask.
Within the disability field, fear of intimidation and retribution is the number one reason sighted by the ODSC as why families are reluctant to report questionable service occurrences which, directly or indirectly, adversely affect their family member with a disability.
Overall, there is a traditional culture which considers people are good-kids if they can get something for nothing – wrought the system. And, there is the public service culture which considers those who report questionable occurrences are undesirables, and are treated as such to ensure they don’t do it again. The message being - no dobbing .
Translated into practical terms, public service management of direct care services for people with disabilities do not want the problem, the politics and the paperwork of having to deal with a situation where one staff member is reporting on another, or reporting client abuse and/or intimidation. Or, the politics and paperwork where items on public service property, considered fair-go by the good-kids, go walkabout.
Public service reactive management consider it is far easier to stop or persecute the person reporting. This sends a clear message to that person, and those thinking of doing similar, not to report on others. Thus relieving public service reactive management of man-management problems. Turning a blind-eye to the questionable activities of the ‘fair-go, good-kids’, saves undesirable effort, politics and paperwork.
Fear extends to CSOs who take funding from government departments These departments consider the supply of funding gives them the right to treat CSO in any way they like, even their peak body, NDS, is not immune from government department intimidation.
The amount of energy and resources used in bureaucratic manoeuvring is awesome in comparison with that used in providing meaningful support services to those for whom the whole service system is intended – vulnerable people.
Apart from the adverse effect on those for whom the support services are intended, one of the most disappointing factors of this political-warfare is the effect on those having just done various training courses, where they are taught the important aspects of providing quality of life care. Whereas, when they arrive at a care facility, all keen to implement what they have learnt, they are told by traditional minder-care staff, “We don’t do all that rubbish here, and you had better not either!”
There is a similar culture amongst police. Cadets are taught at the police academy all the good things they should do when they graduate. They arrive at their first station, after their training, all keen to get on the streets and apply what they have been taught, only to be confronted by the duty sergeant who tells them, “We have enough to do without you going out looking for problems – sit quietly behind that desk!”
During the four year period Heather worked, as an ACRACS in various aspects of the disability field, especially supported accommodation group homes and similar, she had to be actively discouraged from reporting the abuse and intimidation of clients, as she would have been seen by department management as a trouble maker, and we needed her behind the closed-doors of the facilities as long as possible.
It is standard practice in the public service, and in many captive market organisations, that those who report problems or, attempt to improve the service for those for whom it is intended, are treated as shocking trouble makers and persecuted for ever more. Whereas, the perpetrators are, at worse, just moved to another facility to repeat their questionable activities.