The sexual assault of a Grampians supported residential facility resident was not disclosed to community workers who were on site just two days after the assault occurred, the Office of the Public Advocate’s annual visitors report shows.
The Community Visitors annual report shows incidents of abuse, neglect and violence at the state’s supported residential services (SRS) doubled in the last financial year.
There were 123 incidents reported statewide in 2015-2016, up from 62 incidents in 2014-2015.
In the case of the alleged assault, community visitors asked to review records on a visit two days after the alleged incident, however were not informed of the incident, the report said. The visitors – who are empowered by law to visit SRS, returned a week later by which time police had become involved and the female resident had left the SRS. The incident reports from the alleged assault detailed three incidents of sexually inappropriate behaviour by the same co-resident within a three-day period.
The report also noted the death of a male Grampians SRS resident which was referred to the Coroner. The report said the man was taken to hospital after suffering a fall. He was discharged from hospital the day after but was returned to hospital by SRS staff where he subsequently died.
The report attributes many of the issues reported to Community Visitors – including assaults of residents by co-residents – to the “complex mix” of residents.
SRS are privately owned facilities overseen by the Department of Human Health Services (DHHS) Victoria. Grampians SRS are visited quarterly by Community Visitors, volunteers who visit the state’s disability and mental health facilities and supported accommodation to monitor quality of care and advocate on behalf of residents.
SRS are occupied by the elderly as well as people with psychiatric illnesses and mental and physical disabilities. Staff from Ballarat SRS have told The Courier some facilities are also home to people newly released from prison.
The Grampians has nine SRS and the report notes there is a “good rapport” between Community Visitors, SRS proprietors and DHHS. However Ballarat SRS staff have made claims to The Courier about cost cutting pressures endangering residents’ health.