MHDCD Project

6.4.1 Matthew

Matthew is an Indigenous man in his early twenties who was diagnosed with ‘behaviour defiance syndrome’ as a child, and subsequently diagnosed with a borderline intellectual disability with an overall IQ of 70 as well as substance use disorder. He attended school on and off until year eight but his school attendance was very poor and he effectively ceased to engage with school around year four.

Both Matthew’s parents came from highly disadvantaged backgrounds and used alcohol to excess, and Matthew was surrounded from birth with drugs and alcohol. Matthew lived between the streets and various relatives from a young age and was regularly recorded by police and community services as having ‘no fixed address’ and as being a child at risk.

At age seven Matthew had his first police event, with police recording sadistic and threatening behaviour. As he was under the age of ten no formal action was taken. He started to go in and out of state care eventually coming under permanent OOHC, however all his foster care arrangements broke down quickly due to his behaviour. Between the ages of seven and 11, Matthew had over 70 contacts with police as a person of interest, often for minor thefts of money and retail items (usually food) and some for more serious matters. 

Matthew had hundreds of recorded police contacts for both offending and being a child at risk, and many juvenile justice orders before the age of 18. His first custodial episode was at age 10, and he went in and out of juvenile justice custody over 10 times for increasingly serious offences. He also committed offences whilst in custody, including assaults on young workers and escapes, and threatens self-harm. As an adult he has had hundreds more police events and many adult custody episodes.

Matthew has not lived in an ordinary community space as a small child, youth or adult but has been in marginal community/criminal justice spaces controlled by the criminal justice system, with police as his frontline ‘carers’. He receives no adequate interventions or services by relevant government agencies despite his vulnerability and homelessness from an early age. By the time he was 14 he was entrenched in this criminal justice system. He has not received disability support as a child or adult.

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