What should I say in my submission?
Think about your own experiences of violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation as a consumer of mental health and disability services.
If you are sharing a specific incident of violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation, try to provide a date, or range of dates, for when it happened. What was the impact of your experience/s on your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing? What could have been done differently? How would you have liked to be treated at the time? Make sure to link each of your answers back to the terms violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
The following examples are based on true accounts.
“On 10 October 2018 I experienced violence and abuse by police officers when I was acutely unwell. The police approached me in public when I was having a manic episode. I was a bit worked up at the time, but I was minding my own business. The two officers ended up pinning me to their car and shouting at me to get in the car. They were twisting my arms and yelling in my ear. When I told them that they were hurting me and I couldn’t breathe, they laughed at me and continued to use force. I did not fight back. They forced me into the van so hard that I fell and scraped my arm, and it bled. They drove me to the station and interrogated me for no reason. I had bruises and pain and sensitivity where they grabbed me for weeks afterwards. I wish someone had held these officers to account and cared to ask if I was ok. I don’t trust police or other authority figures anymore. This experience traumatised me and has prevented me from seeking help for my mental health.”
“I experienced neglect by clinical staff when I was an inpatient in a public psychiatric unit between 7-17 March 2019. On my second day, I ran out of the medication that I take for my heart condition. I requested that I be prescribed it immediately because not taking it is life-threatening. I begged the nurses to follow up my request. Communication between and from staff was poor. I did not feel heard, respected, cared for or taken seriously. I experienced frightening physical symptoms and fear, panic and helplessness while waiting for my medication. It was two or three days before I was prescribed the medication. I should not have been made to wait so long for my medication. I should not have been made to beg.”
“In August 2019 I was exploited by a male staff member at a PARC unit when I was very unwell and in need of support. During my two-week stay, this staff member talked to me a lot. One time he requested we meet and spent over an hour just talking about himself and his problems. The other staff spent the hour looking for me, because he had not informed them of our meeting. After my stay, this staff member called me and asked to catch up for coffee. I thought this was a normal part of my care, so I agreed. The meetings became weekly. He would call me to chat at night when I was at home. One evening we went out to see a film together, and afterwards he suggested we get dinner. I told him I wasn’t hungry and didn’t have much money so would probably go straight home from the cinema, but he convinced me to stay out and buy dinner. He knew that I had substance abuse issues but encouraged me to drink with him and drive home affected by alcohol. Later that week I asked him to pay me back for the food and alcohol I had bought. He guilt-tripped me and then took weeks to pay me back. During this time, he continued to contact me and offload his problems. This emotional labour wore me down and compromised my recovery. He knew that I was financially and emotionally vulnerable and used this to his advantage. I would not go back to this PARC if he were still working there.”