Mother left confused on disability status

A woman whose children were removed says she was left confused after a disability assessment.
A woman whose children were removed says she was left confused after a disability assessment.

No ongoing support was provided to an Aboriginal mother despite child services citing intellectual disability as a reason for the long-term removal of her children, an inquiry has heard.

The first royal commission hearing examining the experiences of Indigenous people with a disability and their contact with child protection services continued in Brisbane on Thursday.

Speaking under the pseudonym Shontaya, the South Australian woman told commissioners she underwent an assessment with a department psychologist shortly after a domestic violence assault by an ex-partner that left her in hospital.

She said she was still in pain, traumatised and emotional.

"That was really hard for me," she said.

Asked if she felt the psychologist took domestic violence into account, she said no.

Commissioners heard the assessment included an intellectual capacity test and access visit with Shontaya's children who were with her mother.

She said she couldn't hold her son properly because she had fractured ribs.

The hearing was told the assessment found Shontaya to have low or poor intellectual functioning and she was left confused if this meant she had a disability.

When asked if any cultural support or special programs for disability were offered through the department after she found out about potentially losing her children long-term, she said no.

A subsequent assessment organised by her lawyers found Shontaya to have a mild intellectual disability.

She told commissioners the second psychologist said she was capable of looking after her children with support and offered to get her on to the NDIS.

Shontaya said the department needed to change the way it approached parents with a disability to help them access support services.

During evidence from SA's department of child protection chief executive Cathy Taylor, the hearing was told that between 25 and 30 per cent of children and young people in care have a disability or developmental delay.

She said she was unable to tell commissioners what proportion of parents or carers who interact with the department had a disability.

When asked if having an intellectual disability or mental health difficulty necessarily impacted parenting capacity, Ms Taylor replied it did not.

Twenty-five witnesses are scheduled to give evidence during the week-long hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Lifeline 13 11 14

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

Australian Associated Press