MHDCD Project

6.4.5. Casey

Casey is a young Indigenous woman aged in her early twenties who has been multiply diagnosed with a range of mental and cognitive conditions, including behavioural and emotional conditions emerging in childhood and adolescence. These include ADHD, conduct disorders, adjustment disorders, personality disorder and bipolar affective disorder. Casey has also been identified as having a developmental delay and intellectual disability with an IQ of 64. She has a long history of self-harm, physical abuse and trauma. She has used alcohol and other drugs from a young age. After the age of 13 she barely attended school.

Casey began to be recorded by police as disturbed, suicidal and homeless in her early teens in the remote NSW town in which she grew up. She was admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act on numerous occasions where she was usually sedated and restrained and released the following morning. In one year alone Casey was the subject of 87 police events, as a result of which she was taken into police custody 35 times and charged on 56 different counts.  On numerous occasions Community Services, the local mental health service and the local hospital recorded they could not support Casey.

Casey was a client of Community Services, ADHC, juvenile justice and a number of other community-based agencies and services from a young age, and yet due to her ‘problematic behaviour’, she was left to the police to manage. Police noted that Casey needed medical and mental health treatment that she was not receiving. Although her mother was unable to support her, bail conditions continued to require that she live with her mother, so she constantly breached bail.  The only time Casey was not recorded as being regularly picked up police or held in detention or in hospital was during a respite placement for six months. When this arrangement came to an end, Casey resumed her frequent police contact. After this Casey was again imprisoned in juvenile justice detention and was repeatedly admitted to psychiatric facilities under the Mental Health Act where she was restrained and sedated.

Casey’s intellectual disability and personality disorders together with her traumatic childhood appear to be the key factors precipitating her institutional contact. The pattern of frequent self-harm, assaulting carers, damaging property, absconding from the facility and resisting arrest continued until Casey accessed the Community Justice Program, a specialised intensive 24 hour supported accommodation program. This support reduces her police and other criminal justice contacts for the first time in her life, other than the six months she spent in kinship care.

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