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Tag Archives: Victoria

Mental health perfect storm

Media release from the Office of the Public Advocate

Assaults and violence in Victorian mental health facilities drawn to the attention of Community Visitors have increased by 77 per cent in the last two years.

Public Advocate and chair of the Community Visitor boards, Colleen Pearce, said that the figures – 101 in 2017 and 179 this year and published in the volunteers’ annual report today – were the “tip of the iceberg” because many incidents involving the one patient can be recorded as only one incident. In addition, Community Visitors get their information from viewing incident reports and access was only provided in 51 per cent of visits last year.

“Insufficient beds is one of the key reasons for assaults and violence in the mental health system because critically unwell people cannot get help until they are at risk to themselves or others,” Dr Pearce said.

Violence was also an issue in facilities for the aged where a high number of assaults, including physical and sexual, continued. One Community Visitor reported a patient punched a nurse in the face and attacked them with a chair. The nurse had to go to emergency. One facility saw 13 incidents in two months including 11 aggressions against staff.

Dr Pearce said these issues would only be addressed with more staff as well as better-designed facilities to allow full view of a unit, and with greater investment in therapeutic activities.

Another critical issue was that patients were often being discharged with nowhere to go. One patient in Hume was discharged to homelessness with a coat and a sleeping bag.

Unstable accommodation continued to be a serious issue, Dr Pearce said, with adverse consequences for people’s recovery and often leading to revolving-door admissions.

Of 92 patients who have been in facilities long-term, 25 cannot be discharged because there was nowhere suitable for them to go.

Other issues included staff shortages, especially in some regions like Hume, suicides and self-harm, staff recruitment and retention issues due to workplace violence, gender safety, plus restraint and seclusion.

This year, 80 volunteer Community Visitors made 1670 visits to 170 units across the state identifying 1486 issues.

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Would you give your bank statements to Births, Deaths & Marriages?

For reasons of privacy, I don’t like giving my bank statements to the government – but I’ve just been required to do exactly that.

After four marriages the time had come: I’m reverting to my birth name. While most people married and divorced within Victoria would have no problem reverting to their birth name, I am sure many other women in Victoria fall into my category: getting married overseas causes issues.

It starts when you get married overseas. While Australia recognises overseas marriages for most legal purposes, an overseas marriage certificate is not recognised for legally changing one’s name. For that (in Victoria at least), a Change of Name is required. Once you have had one Change of Name, you can forever thereafter only change your name by applying for another Change of Name.

To apply for a Change of Name at Births, Deaths and Marriages you must provide proof you have lived in Victoria for the preceding twelve months. There are four ways you can prove this, as shown in the above photo.

I had been living with my daughter and her husband for ten of the twelve months. Therefore I have no utility accounts covering the period. I did not have a lease agreement with my daughter (although Centrelink accepted a rent certificate from her). I was not enrolled in a Victorian tertiary institution (I was enrolled at an RTO). That left me with only one option – providing twelve months bank statements showing Victorian transactions.

When I objected on the grounds of not only privacy but also security (Births, Deaths and Marriages now has all the information required to impersonate me on the phone to the bank) I was told everything was strictly confidential as they are a government registry. Excuse my concern, but in my experience that doesn’t absolutely guarantee security. One just needs to look at the Trump leaks at the moment for evidence of that.

I also asked why a statutory declaration from my daughter was not acceptable. After all, Centrelink had no issue with accepting the situation. “Centrelink and us operate differently“, I was told.

So, much against my better judgement, I handed over twelve months worth of bank statements.

I can understand a car registration not being acceptable as proof I have been living here. After all, yes, I could live in NSW but own a car in Victoria which I let a family member drive. I’m not sure why my mobile phone records would not be acceptable, but then again do I want them knowing who I have called any more than I want them to have my purchasing history? We are required by law to change our address with VicRoads within fourteen days of moving, so I am not sure why my licence was not acceptable proof.

My situation is, I admit, rather unique. However I can’t help but feel this is yet another example of “big brother” being just a little too brotherly. There are other ways to prove I’ve been living in Victoria: payslips from employers, Centrelink communications to me in Victoria, licence (as noted above), medical bills from Victorian providers, a statutory declaration.

This whole situation made me feel decidedly uncomfortable. I am seriously considering closing that bank account and opening a new one. For security purposes.

The Births, Deaths and Marriages staff were lovely. They don’t write the policies, they just have to follow them.

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