My name is ‘Jane’. I am a woman in my late 60s with multiple physical, psychosocial and intellectual disabilities.
I want to share my concerns about the State Trustees in my home state. I have put a lot of complaints into the State Trustees because I believe this state government agency is not managing my payments properly. I feel they have acted unfairly and insensitively to myself as a person with disability. State Trustees made a mistake with my money. They didn’t pay some bills to my nursing home facility that were supposed to be paid. At the time, I was depressed because I was stuck in the nursing home. I badly wanted to go home. When I received a bill for $15,000 without warning that I needed to pay, I felt so angry, upset and let down! No-one had explained anything about this debt to me, and I thought I was going to be on a payment plan for the rest of my life.
I knew this wasn’t right, so I got advocacy support to help me make a complaint to State Trustees. After months and months, the State Trustees acknowledged they did the wrong thing and they refunded me the money they owed me.
I can’t help but wonder how many other people this happens to? I wonder how many people can’t speak out or are too scared to speak out. I want to be an advocate for all those people.
This experience has given me many reasons to believe the State Trustees don’t really understand people with disability.
Some of the issues I’ve experienced with my State Trustees:
- You rarely get one person to speak to each time, instead you often get different people who don’t know your story as a person.
- Personally, I feel very small whenever I talk to the agency. I feel disrespected.
- State Trustees seems to take forever to send out statements, so I don’t know what is happening with my money.
- When I ask the agency to follow something up, they say they will do this, but often I find out later they haven’t done what they promised to do. It seems like there needs to be more accountability for their actions.
One day I want to come off State Trustees and manage my own money. The agency says it will help me to, but so far I haven’t seen or heard anything about this. I am sick of trying to follow up. I would like for State Trustees to put themselves in my shoes and understand how frustrated I am feeling.
Trust is very important to me and I feel that the trust between me and the State Trustees is broken. I am scared of them and what they will do next.
Recently, I made a submission to the Disability Royal Commission, and I really felt heard. I hope the Commission looks into the State Trustees because I think the agency is not keeping its word and it should do better. I want the State Trustees to give better explanations about what they do and I think they need more public scrutiny.
Editor’s note: Our Voice is a series of guest blogs by members of our community who have been affected by violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation. Like the Disability Royal Commission, we want to spotlight the voices of ordinary people with disability telling their own stories. Jane has chosen to remain anonymous. She told her story with the support of an advocate from a local organisation.
Find out more at our Guardianship issues page.