Disabled Vic woman half-dragged into home

Kaitlyn Offer

A young woman is dead and another woman allegedly raped in harrowing cases in Victoria's disability sector, a report claims.

A woman with a severe intellectual disability and cerebral palsy died in hospital two days after her 22nd birthday in March following months of welfare concerns by visitors from the Office of the Public Advocate.

Her distressing case was outlined in the Office's Community Visitors program annual report.

Community Visitors support people with disability living in care, reporting on breaches and incidents within the sector.

Visitors had observed the young woman's deteriorating mobility, frequent falls and a lack of suitable safety equipment at the service house she was living in.

They witnessed her being "half-dragged" from a taxi and being fed while seated on a beanbag instead of a proper chair and therefore increasing her risk of choking.

She also sobbed and clung to a Community Visitor during a visit.

Carers at the house claimed she "did not really feel pain" and could not find records to determine if speech and swallowing assessments had happened, the report reads.

In January 2016, Public Advocate Colleen Pearce had written to the Department of Health and Human Services with her "grave concerns for the wellbeing, safety and dignity" of the young woman after similar concerns were raised in June 2015.

The woman's death is now subject to a coronial inquiry.

Ms Pearce wrote in the annual report the case attested to the importance for an annual review of all deaths in disability services and for the results to be made public.

The annual report also highlights the alleged rape of a female resident at a group in by a male resident who had previous allegations of sexual assault made against him.

The man has not been questioned or charged over the allegations, but had been interviewed over three previous allegations of sexual assault.

Police successfully applied for an order to move him out of the home and he remains in temporary housing.

This year Community Visitors identified 321 incidents of abuse, neglect and assault at disability, mental health and residential services, up from 265 the financial year before.

Ms Pearce also highlighted concerns about the standard and maintenance of group housing and "as noted in previous reports, the (Community Visitor) program is drastically underfunded."