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Tag Archives: Violence

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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NDIS red-tape leaves vulnerable Victorians in abusive homes

Media release from the Office of the Public Advocate

Vulnerable Victorians living in disability accommodation remain in abusive situations for months due to NDIS bureaucracy.

This was a key finding the Community Visitors Annual Report, tabled in State Parliament today.

Nearly half of all serious incidents in disability group homes reported by the visitors each year relate to violence between co-residents, with 133 notifications being made this year to the Disability Services Commissioner (DSC). [p. 19]

Public Advocate and chair of the Community Visitor boards, Colleen Pearce, said that despite the number of recent inquiries into violence against people with disability, co-resident violence had received “little practical attention.”

The visitors report [p. 22] that one female resident suffered traumatic abuse from another but had been unable to move to another group home for at least five months, despite the support of her legal advocate and the DSC.

NDIS participants require their plans to be reviewed to move from one group home to another, even if the funding is the same. As well, an occupational therapist’s assessment is needed, however, NDIA pre-approval is needed first which involves a lengthy wait then a ten-week wait before the assessment and, only then, can a plan review be scheduled, which generally takes months.

In this case, the assessment was rescheduled several times from February because the NDIS delegate or the resident’s lawyer were unavailable.

Dr Pearce said that resident-on-resident violence and abuse in group homes was not uncommon.

“There are multiple instances where residents have expressed to Community Visitors how fearful they are in their own homes, and how they often choose to stay in their own rooms rather than interact in shared living spaces.”

Other issues identified include inappropriate environment for residents, lack of continuity of staffing and use of restrictive interventions.

This year, 266 volunteer Community Visitors made 2952 visits to 1148 units across the state, identifying 3806 new issues.

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Violence against women, Australia says sometimes!

I’ve always had a slight problem with the “Violence Against Women, Australia Says No” for the obvious reason that it seems to imply that violence against men is just fine. Shouldn’t the message be that using violence to solve one’s problems is just wrong full stop? By just making it violence against women, there’s some echo of “you should never hit a woman” because it’s ungentlemanly.

But I understand that the campaigne was targetting a particular aspect of violence, and that it was trying to influence community attitudes so that, when a man uses violence against a woman, there is no justification. Arguing that she somehow “deserved it” is no defence.

So I guess it does concern me when I read comments like this about the recent incident in Victoria where a fifteen year old girl was body slammed into the concrete by ticket inspectors:

“I cant see anything wrong?
he was doing his job, tell you kids to pay and then ride the train, simple.



“I say, GOOD ON YOU PSO’s, show these little spoilt brats that spitting and carrying on like 2 year olds will not be tolerated, I’m sick of this nanny state carrying on about absolute rubbish…the girls were being totally disrespectful and deserved every thing they got. If it was in the USA they would’ve been tasered as well…Good job PSO, good to see youre doing your job and teaching these brain dead youth a thing or 2.”


“If it was me being spat in the face that female cheat would have lost her face trust me.” Ken

It was her fault apparently according to many. She was “asking for it” and she deserved what she got.

Well, I suppose that we have to qualify “Violence against Women, Australia says No (apart form when they are being arrested)”, but there’s two points I’d like to make.

The first is that I find it hard to work out exactly what’s happening from the footage. Was the fare evader walking through the gate when grabbed by a person unknown to her? If that was the case, why was it necessary to grab her rather than simply ask her to stop? Or they had previously been trying to fine her and she’d walked off. Whatever, the details of the actual incident, the body slam seems to me an excessive use of force. Imagine, for example, if this occured at a school and this was a group of teachers body slamming a student for trying to leave without a pass – would people still be saying that she deserved what she got?

But it’s the comments that concern me just as much, which can be found on 3AW’s site. Yeah, yeah, freedom of speech and all that! However, I can’t see how we can run campaign’s trying to discourage violence against women and allow such pathetic comments as “she would have lost her face trust me”.

Surely, allowing these comments to stand condones them. Or is violence against women another one of these awareness campaigns where governments can say look at what we’re doing, and the media can applaud them. Then we all go back to everyday life where none of it’s real and what matters is whether or not the person was “justified”.

Violence against women, Australia says no. Unless it’s her fault. Then, it’s OK. Although doesn’t the person committing the violent act always that the victim deserves it?

Image from

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