• Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

Young men abused in disability care have never been given an apology, says Disability Royal Commission – Health

ByChad J. Johnson

Jun 8, 2022

Two young men with disabilities who were abused while in care have never received compensation or an official apology.

The Royal Commission on Disability recently looked into allegations of abuse by a carer of the NDIS provider
afford.

Nursing assistant sentenced to three years in prison

A disability support carer in western Sydney has been jailed for three years on child abuse charges.

Police found images of clients taken during self-care on the carer’s laptop. They charged the carer with child abuse offences. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Earlier this month, the Royal Commission specifically looked at the experiences of three disabled men in Affords’ care at the time of the abuse.

Jason, 24, and Toby, 22, were among a number of men who were abused by the lifestyle support worker.

Abuse during care: no formal apologies, no compensation

Jason’s mother, Sally*, said they have received no official apology or compensation for the abuse Jason suffered.

Sally said she received an initial phone call from Afford. However, none of the funds they spent on the service were ever returned to them.

“I felt, the day he was arrested, for Afford, [it was]’wash my hands off him, he’s been arrested, that’s all, we don’t need to worry about anything else,'” Sally told the hearing.

Sally said the family learned of the abuse from the police. Afford’s CEO didn’t call the family until the next day.

The CEO apologized to Sally, insisting he had stayed late and checked the documents to ensure the offending carer had been employed ‘correctly’.

“And that really stuck in my mind because I think at this point I just found out that my child was abused by one of your workers and it’s more important that you tell me that you have used it correctly,” Sally said.

“I was in shock. After hanging up, I remember saying, ‘I don’t understand this call at all.'”

Families develop a deep distrust of NDIS providers

Toby’s mother, Suzie*, said their family have also not received an apology or compensation.

Suzie and Toby’s father was horrified when they learned of the abuse. They quickly developed a deep distrust of those caring for their son, the commission heard.

Suzie removed Toby after the family received a bill for services that did not take place because he was on vacation with his family in New Zealand.

Disability Royal Commission hears profits soared thanks to Job Keeper

Steven Herald was CEO of Afford at the time the abuse occurred. He left the business in March 2021, shortly before the carer who abused residents went to jail.

Afford President Mike Allen lambasted the former CEO. He told the Commission that his board’s reports were “somewhat self-serving” and “seemed inappropriate”.

“The CEO at the time believed that financial performance was also reflected more broadly across the organization as a whole,” Allen said.

In an October 2020 report, Mr Herald called the month’s results “once again fabulous”.

The commission heard he went on to characterize the “total profit for the quarter as $6.9 million due to Job Keeper’s net profit for the quarter.”

Afford received $10 million in Job Keeper funds in 2020 and 2021, according to financial reports.

Commissioner slams Afford CEO

Commissioner Ronald Sackville asked how Herald remained in office for so long.

“I find it hard to understand how the CEO could last for so long in light of the reporting he did that was not just – I give you my impression – narcissistic as described by Mr. Griffin, but reflected an utter failure to recognize, understand and implement, as far as documentation goes, the primary purpose of the organization not only to provide service or more, but to preserve the health, well wellbeing and safety of all program participants at the forefront of the organization,” he said.

The Royal Commission on Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disabilities continues in June. At that time, it will focus on the experiences of children and young people with disabilities in different school settings, including special education settings.