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Content Warning: These stories are about violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation and may include references to suicide or self-harming behaviours. They may contain graphic descriptions and strong language and may be distressing. Some narratives may be about First Nations people who have passed away. If you need support, please see Contact & support.

Inga is in her 30s. She is autistic and has schizoaffective disorder.

‘I only found out I was autistic … last year,’ Inga told the Royal Commission. She had tried for years to get an autism diagnosis.

‘Not one person would send me for an autism assessment because they believed I was already diagnosed … Yes I’ve got mental illness, but when I was a child there were [other] problems as well.’

Inga said she masked the autism ‘quite well’. When she was in her late teens, she also experienced auditory hallucinations and delusions.

‘I had two doctors tell me to find God … I thought it was maybe a cultural thing, but yeah, bit bummed to be told to find God when you’re hearing voices.’

Inga said about a decade ago a doctor prescribed an antidepressant that had previously triggered psychosis. When she refused to take it, the doctor threatened to detain and sedate her.

When she had a psychotic episode after taking the medication, the doctor admitted her to hospital where she was given another drug that caused hallucinations.

‘It was in the sixth or seventh week that I had a period of lucidity where I asked them what medications they gave me and I said, “No, I’m not taking that drug.”’

Inga said at one point, when staff were trying to restrain her, someone stepped on her face. Another time when staff tried to sedate her, her mother ‘walked in to visit at that point in time and argued with them’.

‘If she hadn’t have been there to advocate for me I probably would have been psychotic for longer.’

Inga said she found a psychiatrist who stopped the medication.

‘He told me that there’s nothing wrong with me, basically. Keep a mood diary, stop my meds.’

Inga said she couldn’t work for several years after she was released from hospital, but was unable to access the Disability Support Pension.

‘Fast forward to last year, I get diagnosed with autism [and] it’s approved straight away because I guess they don’t want to appear to be discriminating against autism, but they will discriminate against schizoaffective disorder.’

Inga also has an NDIS plan, but is struggling to access supports because her support coordinator ‘disappeared for four months’.

‘Wouldn’t answer emails, wouldn’t answer text messages.’

When she found another support coordinator and emailed the old one to say their ‘services are no longer required … they replied within five minutes’.

‘So they’d obviously been getting my emails and requests … If you’re unable to provide the service you’re being paid for then you should be outsourcing that to someone who can.’

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Disclaimer: This is the story of a person who shared their personal experience with the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability through a submission or private session. The names in this story are pseudonyms. The person who shared this experience was not a witness and their account is not evidence. They did not take an oath or affirmation before providing the story. Nothing in this story constitutes a finding of the Royal Commission. Any views expressed are those of the person who shared their experience, not of the Royal Commission.