The LL case has been persistently highlighted by the public guardians in the NT Health Department’s Ministers and Executive. It demonstrates both the extent of need amongst the subject clientele and the unresponsiveness of the Department of Health to this need.
LL falls into the cohort of clients who are receiving no services, presumably in anticipation that she will sooner or later become eligible for Part IIA or recidivist imprisonment. It is equally likely that she will become a fatal victim of violence.
LL has a foetal alcohol related intellectual disability and has suffered a horrific life of sexual abuse and neglect from her infant years. Her case is well known to the Department of Health Disability Services staff, who despite their best endeavours, do not have the resources to achieve any meaningfuloutcome for her. With the tokenistic funding they are offered, they can only repeat a meaningless cycle of dead end referrals and assessments.
Attempts at seeking Executive level action have been unsuccessful.
Advocacy was made to relevant ministers, hoping for some action. Although numerous meetings resulted in assurances that action would be forthcoming, nothing has changed for LL.
To some extent, some of the Department’s neglect of clients such as LL can be understood in terms of the intractable problems facing the NT government inresponding to Aboriginal people with a cognitive impairment, complex needs and an offending history
The area of high needs disability, though small in terms of the numbers affected, has, through years of neglect, reached a point where it is of serious concernboth domestically and internationally.
After two years of continuous advocacy, LL's shocking reality remains unchanged. This young woman, with the intellectual capacity of a young child continues to be homeless and vulnerable to abuse. Desperate, she often seeks out the only source of social inclusion on offer, the fringe of riverbed drinking camps, where she is routinely sexually abused by other people who are inebriated. Her only way of being temporarily accepted in the camps and avoiding rape, is to provide alcohol, for which she does not have the required ‘cash money.’ Recently, alone on a town hillside, without bedding or shelter, and sniffing petrol and smoking to ward off the early morning cold, she accidently set her legs alight. She staggered to a nearby roadway, collapsed and was almost run over by a car. After initial treatment, she absconded from hospital, lacking the capacity to understand her need for continued medical care. Given the risks of her situation, urgent action was required.
The guardian made a decision that since there was neither accommodation nor physical support for her in Alice Springs, the only possible option was to haveLL placed ‘out bush’ with her young sister, where hopefully the community clinic staff would attend to her wounds.
The Executive of the Department of Health were resistant to this idea, as it did not fit the “support plan” for LL, but reluctantly agreed to the action taken.