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Abuse and neglect
Abuse, neglect and violence are not ok. Freedom from abuse, neglect and violence is a basic human right. Suitsme has zero tolerance for abuse, neglect or violence. As an organisation Suitsme is committed to acting on:
- anything that makes a person with disability be or feel unsafe
- anything that doesn’t support a person’s human rights
- anything that we could be doing better
What is Abuse?
Types of abuse may include:
- Physical abuse – non-accidental physical acts towards a person with disability that are intended to cause hurt or harm. Acts that result in that person experiencing significant pain, shock or other unpleasant sensation.
- Psychological or emotional abuse – verbal or non-verbal acts that cause significant emotional or psychological anguish, pain or distress including verbal taunts, threats of maltreatment, harassment, humiliation or intimidation, or a failure to interact with a person with disability or acknowledge the person with disability’s presence.
- Financial abuse – improper or illegal use of money, property, resources or assets of a person with disability, including improperly withholding finances from that person, and coercing or misleading the person with disability as to how the funds or property will be used.
- Systemic abuse – a failure to recognise, provide, or attempt to provide adequate or appropriate services, including services that are appropriate to the person’s age, gender, culture, disability support needs or preferences, that has a significant physical, emotional or psychological impact on the person with disability.
- A pattern of abuse – Patterns of abuse involve repeated behaviour towards a person with disability, which may not seem like instances of abuse when considered in isolation. For example, a worker may repeatedly verbally abuse a person with disability by shouting or constantly criticising the person. While this may not cause significant harm or suffering to the individual in each instance, the repetitive nature of the abuse constitutes a pattern of abuse
- Unlawful physical contact, or assault – This category encompasses any physical behaviour towards a person with disability that is an offence under any criminal. Assaults could include hitting, pushing, shoving, spitting, throwing objects towards other people or making threats of physical harm.
- Unlawful sexual contact, or assault -e.g. sexual assault (rape) or indecent assault (touching (or threatening to touch) a person’s body in a sexual manner without the consent of the other person
- Sexual misconduct – anything sexual not covered in the above
- Grooming – Grooming refers to behaviour that is intended to befriend a person, in order to persuade them to engage in sexual activity.
- Use of constraints or restrictive practices outside of clinical recommendations – for example locking a client in their room as punishment
What is Neglect?
Neglect includes an action, or a failure to act, by a person who has care or support responsibilities towards a person with disability.
Neglect can be a single significant incident where a worker fails to fulfil a duty, resulting in actual harm to a person with disability, or where there is the potential for significant harm to a person with disability. Neglect can also be ongoing, repeated failures by a registered NDIS provider or worker to meet a person with disability’s physical or psychological needs.
Types of neglect may include:
- Grossly inadequate care – depriving a person with disability of the basic necessities of life, such as food, drink, shelter, medical care or clothing
- Failure to access medical care – depriving the person with disability from receiving required medical attention and care to access and treat a condition, or prevent an illness or condition from worsening
- Supervisory neglect – An intentional or reckless failure to adequately supervise or support a person with disability that results in, or has the potential to result in death or significant harm. E.g. leaving client in a hot car during summer
- A reckless act or failure to act
- Failure to protect from abuse – obviously unreasonable failure to respond to information which strongly indicates the actual or potential serious abuse. E.G failure to report an allegation of abuse
If you would like to know more about abuse and neglect and how to recognise that it is occurring you can learn more here, https://www.nds.org.au/resources/zero-tolerance
Suitsme fosters a culture where it is safe to report that abuse has occurred. This means that we protect the confidentiality of those who report, take all reports seriously and ensure a “no wrong door” approach to reporting.
If abuse or neglect is reported to a support worker (including allegations), they must inform their manager immediately (within 1 hour of the client disclosing to them).
Access to an Advocate
Depending on the situation, the client may benefit from having an independent advocate involved. Suitsme will always offer any client who has been abused, neglected or made an allegation of the above to an independent disability advocate.
Suitsme staff can use this link to find an advocate in the client’s local area: https://askizzy.org.au/disability-advocacy-finder