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Daniel Andrews: our autistic son turned 21 last week shackled to a hospital bed – don't let him suffer from neglect any longer

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This is our beautiful son, James.

Last week he turned 21 years old, and he spent his birthday shackled to a hospital bed – the government is refusing to fund his support needs properly, so have abandoned him in hospital. 

It sounds unbelievable. But it's the nightmare we've been living. The last 11 days we've had little sleep. 

James has Autism Spectrum Disorder. We've worked so hard to care for him and to make sure he can live a full and happy life. But after giving up employment to stay at home, reducing our income, paying for carers, and being brought to depths of despair and exhaustion we could not imagine – we pleaded for the government to help us.

I work as a nurse, and I can tell you that what we got instead was gross incompetence. James suffered grief and loss issues in 2012 after his Nana passed away suddenly he was very close to her, then his grandmother died in 2013 a year later. Losing his Nana, triggered him to display behaviours of concern as James relived the trauma of losing his baby sister who was taken away in an ambulance 7 yrs ago and died at 4 1/2 weeks of age unexpectantly of a heart attack.. His grandfather two months before her also died of a heart attack.

DHS did not listen to our pleas for help and in used their standard statements to inform families to “ring the police" who then have no alternative to admit to hospital. He then experienced the trauma of being placed in hospital and shackles with three admissions, as we were not given any extra supports to cope by DHS. He was placed in care, for 11 months with no treatment plan for his trauma or address his grief and loss issues. He was recently evicted and sent home with only 3 days notice. Insufficient support and funding to continue care at home

We warned the Department of Human Services repeatedly. We pleaded for them to listen that he was self-harming. In writing, and over the phone. Nothing. 

They wore us to the core, not providing sufficient supports to maintain his care at home. We were exhausted and no choice but to demand respite care in the place that was deemed by DHS to be appropriate long term accommodation for James. However, it proved to be inappropriate due to insufficient space inside and outside for James to be able to release his energy when stressed. Although the service that provided the housing have acknowledged that they could not support our son at this accommodation with the supports recommended by DHS. DHS refuse to listen and keep trying to force a square peg into a round hole so to speak!

It's heartbreaking to think just 2 years ago he was happily walking around SeaWorld with his grandmother and Aunty. – now thanks to mistreatment he's anxious and lashes out in fear and anxiety and lack of coping due to his unresolved grief and loss. 

He needs a proper treatment plan and help so we can bring him home. We also don't want to see this happen to any other people with autism - the government should really provide adequate funding for people with autism, their families or carers who need urgent help. He does not require medical treatment, he requires understanding, love and support being shackled and chemically restrained contradicts the care that he requires.

We're now pleading with you, Premier Daniel Andrews. You've just been elected. You can stop this now – don't let this kind of neglect from the previous government continue. We need help. 

Please sign our petition to help us bring James home, and for the government to stop neglecting his care. 

Thank you, from Bronwyn and Allan Pascoe.



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