Staff disrespectful to man with psychological disability

November 2020

Elias* has a psychological disability and neurological disorder. He lives with severe anxiety.

Elias was receiving a service from a government department.  He said that the department’s officers were disrespectful when communicating with him, and that they stopped communicating with him because he was ‘difficult’. Elias lodged a complaint with Anti-Discrimination NSW. 

Elias stated that the lack of response from the department caused him to contact it more often and to be more frustrated in his tone. His mental health also significantly worsened. Elias’s reactions reinforced the department’s decision to limit its contact with him as its officers perceived his communications as being aggressive and combative. 
During the investigation of the complaint, Elias found a disability advocacy service that helped him with his complaint. The advocate helped Elias to clarify the issues that could be dealt with by Anti-Discrimination NSW, which helped the complaint reach conciliation. 
At the conciliation conference, the parties addressed the barriers to communication that had been ongoing for years and had impacted on Elias’s mental health so severely that he was at risk of significant harm to himself. The department and Elias agreed to a communications strategy to avoid these issues in the future, and the department also put in place some immediate actions to improve their service delivery. 
*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.

Last updated:

15 Nov 2021

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