In Queensland there are very real and serious issues affecting people with disabilities.
The story tells of a 28 year old man with a brain injury and an estimated mental age equivalent to that of a five or six year old child.
Most people would likely raise their eyebrows at the questionable ethical standards of a public service system that enables its tax funded employees to allow a person with the mind of a child to be placed in an adult prison.
“A source familiar with the case, who spoke on condition of anony-mity, described the situation as a failure of society and the legal system”.
There are very good reasons why this source would not want to be named and it is a credit to him or her that he or she had the courage to speak to the media at all. Thank you to this person for being willing to be quoted. You do people with a disability a great service by your honesty and your willingness to speak out.
It is acknowledged that there are personal and career risks for people who make their views on issues such as this public and that these threats come from areas that should be supportive of such important advocacy for vulnerable and marginalized people.
While ,”the legal system” and “society” are common scape goats for cases of injustice, prejudice, inequality and discrimination of vulnerable people and this is often brought to light, rarely is it ever reported that “the legal system” and “society” are made up of individuals and groups of individuals, who are paid by tax payer dollars to address issues of this kind and find solutions to address them.
The truth of how these situations eventuate is much more disturbing than people realize.
The responsibility for outcomes such as the one in this story lies with individuals who hold positions of office in several different government departments. Queensland court system employees are aware of other situations that have factors in common with this case because one such employee spoke of such a case, at a forum in Brisbane in 2012.
Due to the non-personal information provided by the speaker it is clear that there are other follow up questions regarding this Frazer Coast case, that it would be appropriate for the media to ask, to bring cases like this into the public eye, instead of enabling them to be hidden.
These are some relevant questions of public interest:
1. Are their appropriate housing options in the region to accommodate a person with the known special needs of this man?
2. What Department of Public Works and Housing and Homeless and Disability Services funding has been allocated to the region and how has it been spent?
3. Do parents of adult children with disabilities, who could possibly end up in the same situation as the man in the story, believe that the type of accommodation provided is appropriate by today’s community beliefs and standards.
4. Was the Department of Communities willing to fund the care of this man in appropriate accommodation within the community with an appropriate level of support in line with Australian Risk Management Standards.
5. If not, what technical loop hole did the Department of Communities use to avoid responsibility?
6. Has the human dignity of this man been respected and protected by The Department of Communities, Disability Service Standards and department policies?
7. Was the restrictive practice of isolation being used on this man with a disability who had not yet faced court and were all procedures for this practice followed in accordance with the legislation, including the use of a positive behaviour support plan.
8. Is there transparency and accountability for the outcome of the man in the story and others with similar stories?
9. What happened to this man after his court hearing?
While ,”the legal system” and society are common scape goats for cases of injustice, prejudice, inequality and discrimination and this is often brought to light, rarely is it ever reported that “the legal system” and “society” are made up of individuals and groups of individuals who are paid by salary or funded by grants from tax payer dollars to address issues of this kind and find appropriate cost effective solutions to address them.
Once a person has had the experience of being inside these public service “systems” from a parent perspective and have been on the receiving end of how the internal society of the Queensland public service operates, it is easy to understand why good solutions to difficult problems are seldom found in an appropriate time frame, through an appropriate process and with the appropriate cooperation of government officers in charge of addressing the issues.
Parents report that within all Queensland government departments in their experience, that deal with people with disabilities; people issues involving the behaviour of government staff are as big a problem to those accessing the system as funding issues are.
Imagine for a minute, how many people with disabilities could be supported by the equivalent annual salaries of the numerous government employees who behave in a such a way, so as to be part of the problem, rather than a part of the solution.
Below is the journey of incarceration to the end of January 2012, of this vulnerable intellectually impaired man as quoted from the article:
“Corrective Services would only confirm the age of the man, 28, and that he is on remand for assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, assault police and wilful damage.”
He was returned to Maryborough Correctional Centre on December 9, 2011.
“He has been held on remand since coming into custody. The man’s case will be reviewed once the matter is heard in court later this month.”
Please follow this link to read the story: Disabled man in jail isolation | Fraser Coast Chronicle.
Thank you to Matt Nott past editor of the Fraser Coast Chronicle, author of this article.
Thank you also to the Fraser Coast Chronicle for the valuable role they play in their region and the greater Queensland and Australian community by increasing public awareness of the serious issues facing people with disabilities and their families.