Issue: Neglect in Health care
An individual who was experiencing an emotional breakdown was left for several hours by their service provider in the emergency waiting room of a major hospital. Whilst there, the individual tried to communicate to the triage nurse that they needed to use the toilet. The triage nurse had no training in communicating with someone with little or no speech (despite the presence of a communication board) and instead the individual was forcibly sedated.
Communication Rights Australia helped gather the facts and referred the individual to an appropriate legal service.
A person alleged that they had been abused as a child by a swimming teacher.
Communication Rights Australia facilitated the relationship between the person and Victoria Police. After the police investigation became inactive, Communication Rights Australia advocated several times on behalf of the individual and as a result the police service re-activated the investigation and charges were pressed.
Advocacy was requested by an individual who was living ‘independently’ on a HomeFirst package but was house-bound 100 percent of the time. The individual had previously received attendant care in order to travel to and from places of interest and build social networks. These outings had ceased completely because in recent years they had to effectively ‘swap’ hours from outings for longer meal time assistance – as a result they were effectively a prisoner within their own home.
Communication Rights Australia argued on the basis of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and as a result the Department of Disability Human Services have now substantially increased the attendant care funding so the individual may access the community.
An individual living in a group home wanted to move into another house.
Communication Rights Australia contacted the Department of Human Services (DHS) to ensure the individual’s name was placed on the DSR (Disability Support Register). As a result, the individual was referred by DHS to a short term case manager who assisted them to plan to move into another home, based upon what they wanted as well as taking into account their unique needs. The case manager then assisted the individual to make another application for housing to the DSR. Communication Rights will continue to follow the progress of this application with DHS.
A person had asked a support worker to book a maxi-taxi for them to return home after a meeting in the city. The person was left waiting outside for 2 hours until the taxi arrived. There was no way for the individual to communicate to anyone that they required assistance.
Communication Rights Australia was able to assist the individual to make a complaint to the taxi service provider. As a result, the person receives priority assistance from the maxi-taxi service and when they make a booking to be picked up at a certain time, this is placed at the start of the queue.
Issue: Day service/program
The legal guardian of an individual who was unable to verbally communicate, wanted them to attend another day service, that better suited their needs. The person’s current day service provider believed that this was not going to be a decision that was in the best interest of the person.
Action taken & Outcome
Communication Rights Australia worked together with everyone, the individual, their day service provider, their legal guardian, house staff and the DHS, to come to a decision about what would be best for the individual. The decision was made to move the individual to another day service, for a trial period, before they eventually moved there on a full-time basis.
Issue: Criminal proceedings
An individual with no speech was feeling harassed by a former carer whom they also believed had stolen money from their bank account.
Communication Rights Australia represented the individual in the Magistrates court and they were able to take out a Restraining Order on the carer. The individual is now considering pressing charges.
Issue: Communication & Education
A family approached Communication Rights Australia to provide support to allow their child to remain in their present school.
Communication Rights Australia wrote to the school and the Minister of Education. Advocates met with the Department of Education and finally took successful action through the Australian Human Rights Commission. The goal was to allow the child to remain at the school where they had been attending for 3 years until the end of primary school. The family received an apology from the Department of Education and an agreement that no further action will occur.
Issue: Attendant care funding
An individual with Cerebral Palsy was living at home independently after their brother had moved out. Despite a request that had been with DHS (Department of Human Services) for more than 2 years for more care hours, the DHS had not yet done anything. When Communication Rights Australia met the individual they had been bitten by rodents in their own home.
Communication Rights Australia convinced DHS to complete an assessment which recommended increased hours. DHS was resistant. Communication Rights Australia continued to advocate for urgent funding and as a result the individual has now received a five-fold increase in funding for attendant care.
A person was left substantial money in their mother’s will but was unable to access it due to misinterpretation of the will by the executor.
Communication Rights Australia liaised with the Law Society to help obtain a quality pro bono service with a major city law firm. Communication Rights Australia attended a meeting with a partner from the firm, who will now liaise with executor and proceed to litigation if necessary.
Issue: Communication & Education
A mother approached Communication Rights Australia to ensure her child was given the support required to access communication in the class. The school had refused to allow the child to access the communication method of their choice or provide adequate training for staff.
Communication Rights Australia has attended meetings with the Principal who wanted to see the child removed from the school. Through negotiation we established an agreement for staff to be trained in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Eventually the school acknowledgement of the human rights that were breached.
Our advocates have worked hard this year to support two families who have been at breaking point caring for their adult children who have significant disabilities. Due to a systemic shortage of accommodation for people with higher needs, the only option being offered was nursing home care. After extensive advocacy involving multiple appeals, creative strategies and the support of key individuals from within and without government, both individuals will soon be moving into appropriate, supported disability accommodation instead of aged care facilities.
We received an emergency advocacy request for a woman in hospital who was unable to return home. Her communication disability was impacting her capacity to make her choices known about a surgical procedure. Our advocate was able to support her closely, making numerous visits to the hospital over the course of the week and consulting closely with the family, hospital staff, social workers and other professionals. As a result the woman’s choices concerning this important topic were respected and she was able to return home.
A man with a degenerative neurological condition was living in unsafe private accommodation. After suffering several falls and bruising he was unable to leave his flat. Our advocacy helped secure a new fully accessible three bedroom home for the family with a spare room for overnight carers, which the man will need as his condition progresses.
Families of children with little or no speech continue to approach our service for advocacy in the education system. In one case we secured a Teacher’s Aide for a boy with autism and ensured behaviour support plans were developed with input from experts. In another we ensured a high school student was supported to make informed choices about their participation in VCE. In another case we provided specialist advice about a child’s rights to access an Ipad with a communication aid app in class, and helped ensure this form of communication was supported by his school.
A man with a speech impairment and physical disability was being harassed by an individual. He had been repeatedly threatened and his house had been covered in graffiti on several occasions. Our advocates were able to gather information, negotiate with the police and represent the man in court. As a result intervention orders have been obtained, breaches of the orders have been addressed and the man now feels safe in the community and at home.
We received an advocacy referral for a young woman with a multitude of significant disabilities and health related issues. Her support package was manifestly inadequate for her needs. Upon leaving high school she was faced with no daytime activities, insufficient home care and isolation from the general community. As a result of our work she has now been allocated a very substantial Individual Support Package. This will enable her to attend a day centre as well as the individual activities she loves like horse riding. She will have quality of life, adequate medical care and the pressure on her parent will be relieved.
A man living independently with MS was unable to contact the police or other emergency services due to the progression of his condition. Attempts to resolve this issue had been unsuccessful. Our advocate was able to liaise with services and ensure that the man was provided with an appropriate telecommunications system that will enable him to make emergency and other calls.
A woman with speech impairment was left stranded in the city with no personal care following a decision by a service. As a result her employment and health were affected. We successfully represented the woman at the Victorian Human Rights Commission and negotiated a fully funded interim arrangement for her care. The woman is now reintegrated with the service and continues to work in the city.