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Further reading and case studies

Multiple previous section32s

Multiple Previous Section 32s and Increasing Services - John

John was a man in his forties who attended a special school as a young person. His home life was marred by domestic violence. His mother had mental health issues and ultimately left the family after attempting to burn the house down.

John developed substance abuse issues, mental health issues and endured many periods of homelessness. Since turning 18 years of age, he spent short periods in goal for minor offences almost every year up until 2009. He had over 150 entries on his criminal history, all in relation to minor offending behaviour. He had not received any significant support from disability services. IDRS made the first of numerous section 32 applications for John in 2009.

After further charges an application was made for ADHC services. That application was declined, but the client was successfully referred to an NGO who provided a few hours of case management each month. The NGO helped John to successfully apply for public housing in the form of a bedsit. The section 32 application was successful on the basis of support services from the NGO.

Five months later John returned seeking assistance with a goods in custody matter. IDRS lodged an internal appeal of the previous ADHC decision after seeking out additional information to help establish the onset of the client’s disability prior to the age of 18 years. No documents could be located but evidence in the form of social history from the client’s long estranged sister and uncle were submitted in support of the appeal against the original ADHC decision. The appeal was successful.

In the period between the first mention of the matter and when it was ultimately finalised seven months later, the client accrued an additional seven sets of charges, the most serious of which was an assault police charge. He was also the victim of assaults on two occasions and witnessed a violent event during this time. This underlines the high volume of traumatic events often experienced by people who are involved with the criminal justice system and that it is often the same people who are both victims and defendants in criminal matters.

The ADHC Support Plan ultimately developed proposed that the client required 35 hours a week face to face support, along with extensive assistance in almost all adaptive functioning areas. He will receive assistance in many areas, including health care, counselling in anger management and for depression, and training in every day life skills such as cooking, budgeting and how to use public transport.

Submissions addressed the issue of previous inadequate levels of support and, despite John’s lengthy criminal history and several previous section 32 orders, the Magistrate exercised his discretion and applied the section to all eight sets of charges.

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