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Case Study 3: Changing outcomes for vulnerable young people

A community member in Victoria contacted the Commission to advise that on arriving home with their two young children, they discovered a 14-year-old male participant who had been voluntarily relinquished to out-of-home care and lived next door was covered in blood. The community member had sustained extensive bite injuries while restraining the participant in order to try to protect his children.

He further advised the Commission that neighbours had earlier witnessed the participant’s carers kicking him. The community member reported that he thought the participant was not being supported appropriately and that service staff were abusing him.

The Commission found an expired pending interim behaviour plan for the participant, which included in-place chemical and environmental restrictive practices. No Reportable Incident reports had been submitted by the participant’s NDIS service provider.

We contacted the NDIS provider to determine why there was no comprehensive behaviour support plan in this case, and established they were no longer engaged with the participant. There had been some prior engagement between the service provider and the NDIS Commission, where we had advised the provider of their responsibilities, but there had been no follow up.

The provider refused to submit reports and then sought legal advice. The case was referred for Compliance action due to concerns surrounding the lack of reporting and the use of unauthorised restrictive practices. We provided behaviour support advice to our investigations team who visited the house where the participant was living. A report on the conditions of the house and the participant’s care found numerous safety risks and a lack of consideration for, or actions surrounding, the participant’s needs.

The investigations team liaised with Children, Youth and Families (part of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services) to move the participant to a new house – a purpose-built respite facility for people with a disability – and a new service provider. The new provider was assisted by the Behaviour Support Team to understand their obligations regarding care and reporting, and they soon commenced reporting of unauthorised use of restrictive practices on a weekly basis, until a behaviour support plan was established.

The final comprehensive plan, authorised by the Victorian Senior Practitioner and lodged with the Commission, included the same chemical restraints, but drastically reduced environmental restrictions, and involved no use of seclusion or physical restraint.

The frequency of the participant’s behaviours of concern reduced, and in a short amount of time he was provided full access to all indoor and outdoor domestic areas and was engaging well with staff. Staff are now working with the behaviour support practitioner to graduate the participant to safe community outings.

Ongoing investigation action with respect to the original provider is occurring.