Mary Lou Carter speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves

To Anita Joseph, the executive assistant to Alistair McEwin, Disability Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Good morning Anita

Will the Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin be making a public statement in relation to the Four Corners program on violence, abuse and neglect in residential settings?

Last night Linton Besser reported in a Four Corners program – Fighting the System – with some of the most graphic abuses of people with disabilities in group homes, including 5 deaths in the last few years. But I guess because there were no spithoods involved and didn’t draw comparisons to Abu Grahib just to Bedlam there are no headlines today.

A Senate Inquiry released a report on 25 November, 2015 — and finally in the last couple of weeks the government finally responded with NO there will be no Royal Commission.

What will the Australian Human Rights Commission do about this in the face of the overwhelming evidence which have been accumulated?; not only from the witnesses, hearings and submissions to the recent Senate Inquiry whose primary recommendation was for a Royal Commission, but from the Inquiries in every state which have been undertaken over the last couple of years as well as egregious iniquity towards people with severe disabilities in the findings of the Australian Law Reform Commission into Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws.

I sent this email to the ABC journalist Linton Besser after the show, last night.

Good evening Linton

Tonight’s programme is the stuff of nightmares – the images and the stories are reminiscent of the Bedlam of old. It is just appalling.

Where is the swift action for the powerless in our communities who are the subject of dreadful abuse?

Where are the protectors of people who are so terribly disabled and
who are powerless to change their circumstances unless it is through the agency of exposure and advocacy.

Thank you for this powerful program, please thank your producers and editors. The media and those who are in a place of power can chance these circumstances of abuse, neglect, injury and exploitation.

But apparently those in power are craven in the face of these atrocities.

I am absolutely crushed that the government has not swiftly responded with the Royal Commission so urgently needed into Violence, abuse and neglect against people in disability in institutional and residential settings.

I am part of a group of people who gave evidence to that Senate Inquiry in Sydney in August 2015.

We documented only nine cases (that’s all we were allowed to present) of terrible abuse and neglect with dreadful injuries to people who cannot speak. We called for a Royal Commission as did many others who made submissions and who gave evidence.

That the government has refused to establish such a Royal Commission given the disclosures in that Inquiry is an abrogation of its responsibility to people with severe disabilities. What is more worrying still is that that the NDIS is rolling right over the top of foundations which are rotten to the core. That the federal government cannot see the need for a Royal Commission is beyond belief and given that there are inadequate and barely-there safeguards which have only recently been implemented, in fact last year the NDIA agency was giving evidence about safeguards to the Royal Commission into the sexual abuse of children and to the utter atonishment of the Commissioners when asked if the conduce and safeguards were in place, the Agency advised that No, they had still not be finalised.

The Federal government knows of this violence, abuse and neglect and yet why no Royal Commission.

I have been checking regularly as to whether the federal government had even responded to the Senate Inquiry Report, I heard tonight that they have responded with a resounding NO to a Royal Commission. Aren’t we all supposed to be equal before the law? – well I guess not, it seems the federal government does not respect, value or give due regard to people with disabilities who cannot speak, perhaps the absence of a spithood is the missing link to draw a Royal Commission.

Indeed Linton they say society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable — actually Australian society is judged by how it MISTREATS its most vulnerable. How absolutely perverse.

What a disgraceful government. You are very aware that your program has only examined a shard of ice from the iceberg. What is going to happen in NSW to all the people living in government operated group homes adds to the disgrace; where people with disabilities will be treated like sacks of funding and not human beings and will be ‘traded’ to the private sector by a venal NSW government as it schemes and plots to get the best value for the ‘jewels in the crown’ services as it abandons our most vulnerable citizens to a system for which there is no protection and no capacity for those vulnerable citizens to attest to what they are being subjected.

Yours in irate incandescence.

Mary Lou Carter

We need a Royal Commission NOW!! Will Alistair McEwin champion this cause? I look forward to your response with respect to what Alistair will do regarding this disgrace.

Regards

Mary Lou Carter

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32 Responses to Mary Lou Carter speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves

  1. pete m

    + gazillion

    The treatment of disabled in homes, of the elderly in homes and the mentally unwell in homes (“homes” meaning care facilities) is a disgrace on our society and deserves exposure to light a RC would bring.

    Reading about how girls were abused in mental facility in 1980’s to 1990’s, so recent, is appalling.

    I can just imagine with horror how a disabled person, unable to defend themselves, or make others aware, would be mistreated as well.

    Instead the ABC and Labor just want to get Catholics / Pell.

  2. Robbo

    I bet Triggs and her gang are currently having a good look at this matter to ensure there is no way it can be linked to their political party of choice. If they are satisfied that the Labor Party can be kept clear then just watch them flap their wings. F…..g hypocrites.

  3. Tom

    Our new ruling class is also a lawless elite. Laws, especially those applying to statutory officers, don’t apply to them because they answer to a higher authority never specified (Gaia? The ghost of Stalin?).

    In fact, it’s the perfect descriptor for Triggs and Southpossumarse. Lawless.

  4. Habib

    When has a royal commission achieved anything, except purchase the lawyers involved another couple of rentals and a new Cayenne Turbo? How about the families of the disabled actually take responsibility for them, rather than dumping the inconvenience on the state, then bitching about the inevitable poor outcomes?

  5. Helen

    Habib: There’s a limit to what some families can do. What do you suggest for the 88 year old mother featured in the program? She looked after her disabled son for over 40 years. While doing that she probably didn’t have much time to pursue a career and make money for her own retirement. So now you’d attack her for ‘dumping the inconvenience on the state’. Don’t you think she deserves a break?

  6. .

    Hard cases are not good for policy – her community ought to help her.

    The state is not the community.

  7. Tintarella di Luna

    How about the families of the disabled actually take responsibility for them, rather than dumping the inconvenience on the state, then bitching about the inevitable poor outcomes?

    they do Habib but then they have the temerity to become infirm, demented, or heaven forfend they actually die, so what do you suggest? Murder-suicide?

  8. Tintarella di Luna

    Hard cases are not good for policy – her community ought to help her.
    The state is not the community.

    I am old enough to remember community in the past is exactly where the village idiot was treated so well. And of course the communities of today are so stable, steadfast, certain and unchanging aren’t they dot.

    In Israel the local councils provide a ‘home for life’ for people with disabilities and they are cared for and supported actually within their communities, not any ol’ community but where grew up and went to school and where their families and friends live. But of course that’s Israel so who would want to follow Israel in anything?

  9. Dr Faustus

    Twenty five years ago, Mrs Faustus worked for the then Queensland Dept of Family Services; part of her work was investigating and ensuring prosecution of cases of sexual and physical abuse by ‘carers’ in supported accomodation.

    It was an incredibly intensive, complicated and difficult task; ensuring usable evidence was obtained, coordinating investigation with generally disinterested police, assisting the DPP preparing cases, and dealing with the unions who were variously supportive, opportunistic, and hostile to the victims’ interests. And all done in fraught and personally stressful circumstances.

    In short, shit work that was a big distraction and overhead to the running of the various facilities.

    It is absolutely certain that the NDIS rent seekers who take on the running of group homes will not be equipped to resource and manage this side of the business in the same way – if for no reasons other than economies of scale.

    Gillard’s Fabian dream will inevitably deliver an increase in instances of sedated, ‘kerosene bath’ standard of care – and a stream of lightly-supervised potential victims for the smallish group of perverts and nutters inevitably attracted to ‘care’.

    For me, this is one of the very rare instances where, if care cannot be provided by families (or people who have a genuine personal interest for the disabled person), government has a positive role to play in regulating and supervising the private sector.

  10. Tintarella di Luna

    For me, this is one of the very rare instances where, if care cannot be provided by families (or people who have a genuine personal interest for the disabled person), government has a positive role to play in regulating and supervising the private sector.

    Thanks for that Dr Faustus indeed — the Gillard Fabian dream will be the nightmare in which vulnerable people will have to live — not only did they not fund the darn thing, Bill Shorten muddied the waters to the extent that he talked at cross purposes depending on his audience. Sometimes he’d say disability at other times he’d say impairment. A charlatan and a quack selling snake oil make of snake’s urine and hyena breath.

    They did not at any time establish any kind of professional standards of training, this is NOT adult baby-sitting. It can be done but as usual (in the words of Thomas Sowell) on issues ranging across the spectrum from housing policies to laws governing organ transplants intellectuals have sought to have decision-making discretion taken from those directly involved, who have personal knowledge and a personal stake, and transferred to third parties who have neither, and who pay no price for being wrong

    What a perfect summation of everything that’s wrong with public policy. Because of course the cost, the price and the consequences are borne by those who have personal knowledge and a personal stake in the issues but who have been excluded by the know-it-alls.

    The design of the NDIS is in the image of the Labor Party, heavily bureauratised and the delivery is laissez-faire and the devil take the hindmost and we know who that is from the programme last night.

  11. .

    I am old enough to remember community in the past is exactly where the village idiot was treated so well. And of course the communities of today are so stable, steadfast, certain and unchanging aren’t they dot.

    If the community is so far gone, I’m not certain the state is going to deliver a better or equal outcome.

    I’m not averse to welfare for this sort of thing. These are worthy cases. I just think it is handled better elsewhere.

  12. Gab

    Now if this 4Cornered story was about the abuse of greyhounds or Aboriginal offenders or illegal “refugees” … but it’s not so the AHRC and governments don’t give a toss.

    How come there are no leftist activists for people with disabilities now standing up and demanding this story be subject to an official inqury?

  13. Tintarella di Luna

    How come there are no leftist activists for people with disabilities now standing up and demanding this story be subject to an official inqury?

    Good question Gab — there are but they are more interested in having doctors deregistered for not having their examination tables on hydraulics so they go up and down. That is the extent of the activism; unless of course it’s to send some limey bint with an overblown accent over to the UN to swan around Geneva accusing the Australian government of Torture of Disabled people just to bet a their end in while in the meantime they ignore those who absolutely have no voice whatsoever. None – because their needs are so manifest and not easy to solve with a ramp or a grab rail.

    I had a conversation with a former Human Rights Commissioner who confided to me that his big beef was with the colleague who was the Disability Discrimination Commissioner; who only appear to champion the causes of people with physical disability and yet totally ignored the manifest and real needs of people who are intellectually disabled.

    Especially those on the moderate to profound spectrum, those who cannot speak, read, write, email, use social media, go to the pub, whine on Facebook — but they are people who feel loss, joy, sadness, love a laugh and a practical joke, love the movies, musical theatre, walks, going out to dinner, sports just being part of things and being talked to and treated like human beings. The fish rots from the head.

  14. Dianeh

    Yes Tinta. Yes they are people. Not political pawns.

  15. hzhousewife

    Sad but true, everybody is happy to be on the committee, but no-one wants to wipe the drool and change the incontinence pads.

  16. Tintarella di Luna

    Sad but true, everybody is happy to be on the committee, but no-one wants to wipe the drool and change the incontinence pads.

    And there are many people who do not mind to do that they just have to be given the chance — but today credentialism is so rife that if you have a Cert III in anything it qualifies you pretty much to be a disability support worker.

    What gets my goat is the Union in NSW pretending to give a rat’s now that the government is handing EVERYTHING over to the private sector (which it shouldn’t do – but that’s another battle) when the Union is the one defending thieves, ne’er do wells and abusers who are never brought to book and who are defended by the Union at all costs — curl-your-hair-stories I know.

  17. Anonandon

    I am pretty hard hearted and I found parts of the show last night very uncomfortable viewing. There but for the grace of God…

  18. .

    Tinta

    Is it legal to do community/family based care for free without accreditation?

  19. Tintarella di Luna

    Tinta

    Is it legal to do community/family based care for free without accreditation?

    I don’t know what you mean dot, if there is one dollar of government money going into service provision in NSW the service provider is regulated — that is not the case with the NDIS where you as the participant or the family can hire anyone who has the skills to meet the needs and you can pay them directly as long as there is an invoice for the service provided which is then submitted to the NDIS. That is what is the choice and control aspect of the NDIS – provided of course you as the participant have the capacity to choose and control. Many NDIS participants are finding the system very good for them but again it is the luck of the draw in terms of planners etc… it’s complicated. But I guess it comes down to whatever is negotiated and agreed to.

  20. Tintarella di Luna

    Anonandon
    #2339019, posted on March 28, 2017 at 1:16 pm
    I am pretty hard hearted and I found parts of the show last night very uncomfortable viewing. There but for the grace of God…

    The Sunbather and I watched it together – he is a very tough nut but … I guess it’s just too close to home — we think we are doing the right thing in ensuring that when we shuffle off this mortal coil our son is settled and secure and relatively happy, that he won’t lose everything all at once as some people do when their last parent drops dead and they have nowhere to go and no-one to help them and there has been no humane transition in preparation for that inevitable day — seen that too.

  21. Mellen

    My grandparents insisted my intellectually disabled uncle stay with them. They were very suspicious of homes and do gooders. He only got the disability pension in his forties because the family doctor insisted they apply for it as it would be difficult to explain his existence to the authorities if anything happened to them. Grandad’s pride was hurt at the very thought of not providing for “our own”.

    They were very suspicious of any attempts to put him in a “home” or indeed any institution although very late in his life he went to a sort of sheltered workshop a couple of days a week and loved it. When my grandmother died at 98 his care fell to a younger sister who willingly took him in but when she died his care fell to my sister and me. Both of us had young families and lived miles from the Malvern area. It was impossible to find suitable accommodation in the Malvern area where he was at home. He eventually went into a nursing home despite the fact that he was hale and hearty, just intellectually disabled and 75.

  22. Tintarella di Luna

    It was impossible to find suitable accommodation in the Malvern area where he was at home. He eventually went into a nursing home despite the fact that he was hale and hearty, just intellectually disabled and 75.

    God bless you and your family and your uncle – I hope he had a good life at the nursing home in his final years.

    Thanks for sharing your story Mellen – your grandparents were grand people and so was your aunt. It is what happens after the families die that the problems arise. Planning for people to remain close to what is familiar, where they can access the activities that they are accustomed to is what helps mitigate the loss for the person with intellectual disability –it’s when everything is lost, the family, the home, the neighbourhood and all that is familiar that plays absolute havoc with the person with intellectual disability and their capacity to comprehend the how, what, where and why things are happening.

  23. Rabz

    How come there are no leftist activists for people with disabilities now standing up and demanding this story be subject to an official inqury?

    Because the aforementioned leftist activists (or self styled “disability advocates”) are all busy expending their energy attempting to have over twenty thousand people with severe (mainly intellectual) disability thrown out of their jobs.

    And no, my observation above is not a joke, this is actually occurring courtesy of several seemingly interminable legal and industrial actions (all funded by taxpayers) currently underway in several federal jurisdictions.

  24. Pingback: Mary Lou Carter speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves | Catallaxy Files | Cranky Old Crow

  25. Habib

    I’m as sure as shit I wouldn’t entrust any member of my family* to the tender care of the state. Why would they be any better at that difficult and onerous task, than the piss-easy jobs they inevitably fuck up beyond any recognition?

    *Excepting welfare-hoover brother in law, a kero bath and being left out on a gurney in mid-winter’s too lenient for that winy sponger. Daesh’d be welcome to him, except he’d probably join when he fiund out blokes sat on their arse all day being fed and plied with coffee. He’d be too lazy to go bombing or interfere with slave girls.

  26. Yohan

    Hard cases are not good for policy – her community ought to help her.

    The state is not the community.

    Yes. Everyone wants to knee jerk create policy based on single hard cases. This is the worst environment to be rational.

    I am also sick of people wanting a royal commission into everything.

  27. hzhousewife

    And there are many people who do not mind to do that they just have to be given the chance — but today credentialism is so rife that if you have a Cert III in anything it qualifies you pretty much to be a disability support worker.

    My part-time co-worker has gone through this training over the last two years, and begun work in disability support. She’s a tough nut. She is currently taking a month off after some horrendous situations being bitten, scratched and spat upon by “clients” who do not want to be transported to Day Care or medical appointments, or take their medication. The rostering of services by some providers is insane – she may spend eight or nine hours doing five hours of care, travelling between various homes – hence she says retail is a doddle – one five hour shift only takes 6 hours away from home. The training isn’t cheap either, and the job is NOT for school leavers.

  28. Tintarella di Luna

    I am also sick of people wanting a royal commission into everything.

    Indeed and even worse is when a Royal Commission is established without any reason at all other than Malcolm Turnbull’s virtue signalling.

  29. Tintarella di Luna

    The rostering of services by some providers is insane – she may spend eight or nine hours doing five hours of care, travelling between various homes – hence she says retail is a doddle – one five hour shift only takes 6 hours away from home. The training isn’t cheap either, and the job is NOT for school leavers.

    Precious little was done to prepare for the NDIS roll-out – and now it is agencies who are filling the workforce gaps with workers who have no experience, many with little English from a totally different culture. I wish your co-worker all the very best it is very very difficult work made worse by the insanity of the uncertainty of how services are delivered.

  30. Tintarella di Luna

    Because the aforementioned leftist activists (or self styled “disability advocates”) are all busy expending their energy attempting to have over twenty thousand people with severe (mainly intellectual) disability thrown out of their jobs.

    And no, my observation above is not a joke, this is actually occurring courtesy of several seemingly interminable legal and industrial actions (all funded by taxpayers) currently underway in several federal jurisdictions.

    Indeed Rabz and determined to do so no matter how long it takes and how much it costs, particularly to those who will be actually bearing the cost and paying the price as a consequence of their ‘advocacy’, social isolation, loss of purpose, devaluing their lives and robbing their of the benefits that come from having a job and feeling useful.

  31. Queensland Observer

    On the issue of disabled people whose elderly parents or carers can no longer care for them. The Newman government was doing good work in that area:

    https://m.qt.com.au/news/new-bundaberg-disability-project-unveiled-minister/2163392/

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