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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.

Shannon is a First Nations woman in her 30s. She has intellectual disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other mental health conditions.

Early in 2022, Shannon moved into a supported independent living home where she was residing with one other person. She told the Royal Commission she thought it would be ‘a good place’ with ‘24-hour care’. But that didn’t happen.

‘No, not at all – they didn't care, nothing.’

The neglect by support workers started from the moment she moved in.

‘Like they wouldn't be doing their duties, like what they're supposed to be doing … There was a time when, like, I fell sick and … I had two workers on and they didn't even do anything. They were sitting in the loungeroom and the kitchen. They were just, you know, laughing and whatever.’

Shannon got no help with cooking, cleaning or getting to appointments. She said staff spent a lot of time on their phones. And they weren’t ‘following policies and procedures’ for her treatments because ‘99.9% of them’ had no qualifications.

‘I was told to take depot [injections] when I don't have schizophrenia! And not to take my ADHD tablets by one worker. They said, “Do you need to take it?” I said, “Are you serious?” But willingly said [I] should have a monthly injection for a mental health condition I don't have!’

Shannon had to ‘fight’ with support workers to get food because they were ‘skipping’ the shopping.

‘There was nothing there for anyone, not even the staff.’

She lost almost 50 kg during her 8 months there because workers were restricting her access to food.

‘Especially at the start. It wasn’t like until the sixth, seventh week, then they did shopping.’

After several months, Shannon told her counsellor about the mistreatment, who ‘betrayed [her] confidence’ and told the manager. The manager said if Shannon was upset, she should ‘put a dummy in her mouth’.

Shannon said she tried to flee the home to escape the verbal and physical abuse, but they were ‘holding [her] hostage’. One support worker tried to strangle her.

‘Then after that, um, I ended up going to hospital and then I came back and [the support worker] had gone.’

The support worker was fired, but police never asked Shannon if she wanted to press charges. She feels that’s because of her disability.

Shannon’s behavioural therapist, who witnessed the abuse, organised for her to move to a new home. But the ‘abuse and neglect’ has left Shannon ‘exhausted’ and impacted her ‘severe trauma’.

‘My anxiety has worsened. Overall my mental health has deteriorated badly. I can't function through the day properly nor think properly … It all catches up with me.’

Shannon says the former service provider is calling her ‘nonstop, every single day’ asking for money.

‘It sounds like a scam. I need to get a second telephone so I can change my number … Just yesterday, um, they sent … one of their workers and said, oh, you owe the director this much money, blah, blah, blah … It's actually fraud.’

One invoice claimed she ‘had seven workers’ and travelled ‘500 plus kilometres’ on a day she’d been at home. Shannon wants to make sure others aren’t treated the same way.

‘It was toxic. It was too toxic. This provider needs a watchdog.’

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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.