File under “déformation professionnelle”

On Professional Arrogance:             A Brief Compilation of ThoughtThis is a note to myself. It’s from the report of the NDIS Citizen’s Jury Scorecard. However, in a way that speaks for itself, it may be of interest to Troppodillians. It’s an illustration of professional obfuscation and indifference to those in their care. (Of course lots of those in these organisations are not like this. But lots are, and that’s despite their genuine intention to do the right thing – surely something to ponder). The closure of the offending institution seems to have been announced to the objections of various stakeholders.

In terms of representation of various impairments, the jury did not hear from anyone who lives in a boarding house or from an institution like Stockton in New South Wales, which is the home for hundreds of people with intellectual disability, amongst other impairments. However, it is important to note that despite the jury not hearing from any witnesses from Stockton, that several attempts were made by the advocate witness, Kristy Trajcevski, a qualified lawyer, to interview at least three Stockton residents. These attempts seemed to be blocked by staff at Stockton, based on the following:

    • Letters were sent by Ms Trajcevski well in advance, notifying participants about the process, inviting them to take part and that they would be contacted, to which no response was received.
    • Ms Trajcevski then: o Attempted to contact the participants over the phone via Stockton’s main switchboard, to which the receptionist offered to answer questions on the participants’ behalf, stating that they couldn’t answer the questions because the participants had intellectual disability and would not be able to speak;
    • Ms Trajcevski told the receptionist that she had sent a letter to them, so they should be aware that she would attempt to call, to which she was told that the participants had never received said letters and that maybe they were directed to their parents’ houses. When told the participants only had one address, Stockton, the receptionist could not explain this;
    • When the receptionist couldn’t answer Ms Trajcevski’s questions, Ms Trajcevski was transferred to the ward, where she received a similar message from the nurses about the participants’ lack of capability to discuss the matter due to their impairments. Assuring the nurses that she would try to discuss it with them anyway, they would still not allow her to speak to the participants.

Ms Trajcevski has a speech impairment, and told the jury that because she thought that her impairment may be causing a problem in either the Stockton staff understanding her generally or questioning her capability to speak to participants, she asked a representative with no speech impairment, to call on her behalf and ask the questions of the participants for her. This representative was met with the same problem, and had the same experience of being blocked by staff and not being able to speak to the participants at all. As such, Ms Trajcevski concluded that her speech impairment had nothing to do with her inability to access NDIS participants at Stockton to ask their views on the NDIS.

The jury concluded from this that the staff at Stockton did not want the participant residents to speak with the advocate witness about the NDIS. This raises several issues about the transition of power from the current service providers to the NDIS participants, based on the change from the block funding model to the NDIS participant funding controlled model. These issues are discussed in the recommendations.

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5 Responses to File under “déformation professionnelle”

  1. paul walter says:

    It looks very hard to judge, without knowing the intensity of the conditions the people Ms Trajcevski, attempted to make communication with.

    It could be that the institution is slapdash, but it could also mean the staff at the institution are “possessive” and feel that outsiders offer some sort of threat to their charges.

    I’m surprised access for MsTrajcevski was not more straitforward and that she was unable to get in touch with anyone senior enough to make a balanced judgement as to access…doe sit mean the place is in prvatised kero bath territory or they are shortstaffed, or do they fear their competence is being questioned?

    Am I allowed to say I still don’t “get” privatising social infrastructure, a bit the opposite, since like government internment camps, say, compared to privatised Nauru type set ups, isn’t a certain degree of oversight lost? The oversight would need to financed adequately, as with say educational institutions involved in the accreditation of off shore students and the local institutions proposed to eduacate them.

    I hope you get someone a bit more sophisticated than myself to add to your conversation. Reading it, it brought home a brutal reality about forgotten battlers, their ability to access everyday stuff we take for granted and the temptation to walk away from something very human and very complicated, mixed with admiration for professionals trying to get the system working better at both individual and systemic level as well as the battlers themselves.

    By the grace of god go I, as to the worst of the disabilities, the Stephen Hawking type ones. I’ve had a fair weekend getting to the football and getting to see a show at Adelaides Festival theatre today, yet it is always a hassle even getting going, doing depression or just normal, I don’t know.

    I don’t dare think what an effort it must be for people worse off than me.

  2. Nicholas Gruen says:

    Thanks Paul,

    You are allowed to say all those things :)

  3. paul walter says:

    I’ll just say I initially thought “nah”, then told myself to be a bit open-minded.

    Once I got into it, it raised so many questions for me that I had to think, god help the poor disabled person trying to raise help from outside, like a miner trapped in a cave-in and those people who really want to make a difference at individual and or systemic level when up against inertia and prejudice, opportunism and cynicism, ideology and empire-building.

  4. ChrisB says:

    Until there’s a commitment to assisting people with ID to (a) communicate and (b) vote, they’ll be treated like (at best) pets and (at worst) battery hens.

  5. conrad says:

    Worse than battery hens, since their food is more expensive, and that’s an easy place to save money. I agree with Paul on this about the destructiveness of privatizing it — things like homes for the disabled are basically dealing with people who have no money and never will have any money. Many also have no ability to complain when things go wrong. So you can basically do anything and get away with it, which people will be tempted to do when there is money to be made and the people are simply numbers if they don’t work with them because they are the managers or they have mentally dehumanized them if they do work with them. The idea that you can somehow provide enough external oversight to stop this is also just fantasy land when it’s basically impossible to get caught cheating unless you are willing spend so much on enforcing rules and regulations it ends up costing far more than the initial purpose (think inspectors, bureaucrats to account for the inspectors, higher level bureaucrats to think of rules for lower level ones…).

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