Australia

Mother left confused on disability status

No ongoing support was provided to an Aboriginal mother despite child services citing intellectual disability as a reason for the long term removal of her kids, an inquiry has heard.

The first royal commission hearing examining the experiences of Indigenous people with a disability and their contact with child protection services continued in Brisbane on Thursday.

Speaking under the pseudonym Shontaya, the South Australian woman told commissioners she underwent an assessment with a department psychologist shortly after a domestic violence assault by an ex-partner that left her in hospital.

She said she was still in pain, traumatised and emotional.

“That was really hard for me,” she said.

Asked if she felt the psychologist took the domestic violence incident into account , she said no.

“She didn’t take anything into consideration whatsoever,” she said.

Commissioners heard the assessment included an intellectual capacity test and access visit with Shontaya’s children who were with her mother.

She said she couldn’t hold her son because she still had fractured ribs.

The hearing was told the assessment found Shontaya to have low or poor intellectual functioning and she was left confused if this meant she had a disability.

A subsequent assessment organised by her lawyers found Shontaya to have a mild intellectual disability.

She told commissioners the second psychologist said she was capable of looking after her kids and helped get her support through the NDIS.

Shontaya said the department needed to change the way it approached parents with a disability to help them access support services.

Twenty-five witnesses are scheduled to give evidence during the week-long hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

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