Staff Segregated and Residents with Disabilities Beaten at Sunnyfield Disability Services

(Sydney, Australia) Two support workers at a National Disability Insurance Scheme accommodation provider allegedly assaulted and verbally abused the residents, while other staff at the home were “segregated” based on race. Additionally, Sunnyfield Disability Services tried to evict one resident after her sister had repeatedly raised concerns about what was happening in the home.

In one incident, a support worker – who had been fired from a previous job for misconduct – allegedly said words to the effect of: “If it was up to me, I would have shot them all,” while news coverage of the Christchurch shooting was showing on the television. Two support workers – known as SP1 and SP2 – were charged with assault over separate incidents involving Carl, Chen and Melissa. Chen’s family reported “unexplained bruising on his thigh” around July 2018, while Sunnyfield allegedly attempted to evict Melissa after her sister and legal guardian, Eliza, made several complaints about staff conduct. Eliza alleged the eviction order was issued out of “spite”, and left her fearing her sister would become homeless.

SP1 faced charges including common assault and stalking/intimidation involving Carl and Chen. He was later charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm for allegedly kicking Chen. The charges were dismissed in court. SP2 also faced assault charges against the residents, including a charge made after a staff complaint to the watchdog. The charges were also dismissed by a magistrate.

That investigation, Eastman said, found the “house coordinator has been very good at covering up” his behavior and the staff felt “intimidated, racially vilified and frightened of this gun-owning coordinator”. The commission heard other staff felt allegedly “bullied” by SP1, and claims that support workers at the home were “segregated” on the basis of race. Eastman said Sunnyfield’s independent investigation found several, though not all, of the allegations of abuse or mistreatment against both support workers were either sustained or partially sustained. More of this story here.