Poison threat brushed off, inquiry told

·2-min read

An anonymous letter threatening the life of a man living in disability support housing in Adelaide failed to trigger a meaningful investigation by police or the department responsible, a hearing has been told.

Speaking under the pseudonym Victoria, the man's aunt said the letter was sent to her Adelaide home in March 2018.

She then read it aloud at a Disability Royal Commission hearing on Monday.

An accommodation services manager had earlier been removed from her role overseeing the man's residential care, and the letter states there was a petition to keep her in that role.

"Her colleagues think this is unfair as she has been a great employee and advocate for (the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion) and your nephew, aka the piglet, for many years," Victoria read.

"I would like to point out that due to her professional work ethic and approachable manner, many staff, 60 I believe, felt the need to support her and have signed a petition to keep her in the role.

"As you would imagine, the staff involved are angry and pissed off, which now puts your nephew at risk," the letter states.

It suggested food could be poisoned, shampoo replaced with acid and seatbelts left unclipped.

"This little piglet is going to be abused with cruelty, violence, regularly and repeatedly," Victoria read.

She told commissioners she was left in shock after receiving the letter at her home address, but said she had never been completely comfortable with her nephew's service provider.

"Although I never ever expected to receive anything like this, that was an underlying element that existed," she said.

The family did not believe the letter had come from any of the core team of support workers, and interim measures were brought in designed to improve safety for her nephew.

The matter was taken to the police who indicated they "didn't see it as a direct threat" and believed it was an internal matter for the department, commissioners were told.

However during a meeting with South Australia's Principal Community Visitor in October 2018, it was discovered the relevant unit within the department "did not investigate nor interview staff regarding the threatening letter".

The South Australian Ombudsman later reported on the matter and also found the letter was not properly investigated, the hearing was told.

The Department of Human Services did eventually reopen an investigation, but no evidence was found to identify the letter's author.

The Disability Royal Commission is holding a week-long hearing in Adelaide.