Family of victim calls for investigation into disability sector


They say there are systemic problems in the disability sector that allow this 'neglect' and 'abuse' to occur.

Sebastopol woman Susan Lizzul was convicted and sentenced to a two year community corrections order with a requirement she complete 300 hours of unpaid community work at the County Court in Ballarat earlier this month.

The victim's mother Michelle Kidd told The Courier the sentence did not represent justice for her daughter Erin, who was brought to the 'brink of death' by Lizzul's actions.

Susan Lizzul.

 Susan Lizzul.

Lizzul pleaded guilty to reckless conduct endangering serious injury on February 19, the day her trial was set to begin.

But during her sentencing hearing the court heard Lizzul had told a Corrections Victoria officer she not did not commit the offence, had pleaded guilty to move on with her life, and believed someone else was responsible for administering the morphine.

Crown prosecutor Andrew Moore and Judge Meryl Sexton said this was 'troubling' and Mrs Kidd said she was 'disgusted' to learn Lizzul had changed her story.

Lizzul became the full-time carer for Erin in 2015 as an employee of a disability service. Erin is severely epileptic, wheelchair bound and has a cognitive impairment.

If the agencies who hold responsibility for children and carers had acted at the time they were notified about these shocking events our little girl would have been spared from her great suffering.

Michelle Kidd, victim's mother

The court heard Erin became unwell with diarrhea, vomiting and seizures in November 2016, when she was 13-years-old.

On November 16, 2016, the disability service made a doctor's appointment for Erin and notified Mrs Kidd. Mrs Kidd contacted Lizzul when she did not turn up to the doctor's appointment with Erin and Lizzul said she had not brought Erin because she had vomited.

Mrs Kidd arrived at Lizzul's house at 1.50pm and found Erin was in a pale and lethargic state. She rang for an ambulance that arrived at 2.35pm and took her to hospital in a 'wavering conscious state'.

Doctors formed the opinion a relatively large dose of morphine was administered to Erin shortly before she was taken to hospital.

A search warrant executed at Lizzul's home found morphine in the garage that had been prescribed to her now deceased son and daughter years earlier for palliative care.

The prosecution submitted Lizzul had access to morphine and opportunities alone in the house with the child to administer it before she was taken to hospital.

Erin was released from hospital after 17 days, including intensive care at the Royal Children's Hospital.

In her sentencing remarks, Judge Sexton said Lizzul did not provide a motive for her actions and showed no remorse.

Mrs Kidd and her husband Malcolm Kidd have written to the Victorian Child Safety Commissioner and the Disability Services Commissioner calling for a further investigation following other the allegations of abuse.

The protection of the most vulnerable children in Ballarat is of paramount importance.

Michelle Kidd

Mrs Kidd said there were institutional failures to keep Australian children safe, as she and others had raised concerns with the disability service about Lizzul's actions before the November date when Lizzul administered the morphine.

"It is this legacy of passive inaction that allows the abuse and neglect of children to continue at the hands of people who have access to vulnerable children," she told The Courier.

"If the agencies who hold responsibility for children and carers had acted at the time they were notified about these shocking events our little girl would have been spared from her great suffering."

Mrs Kidd said Lizzul was receiving an 'unprecedented level' of external support to care for Erin as the family demanded for Lizzul to be extensively supported by the Department of Human Services before they would agree to Erin's placement with her.

"There is a cruel irony here as I was told by DHS West Division at the time "it is a fact that we can support a stranger to care for your child but we cannot help you"," she said.

Lizzul's defence counsel said Lizzul continued to care for a disabled child at home.

Mrs Kidd said she expected the Disability Services Commissioner would conduct a 'full and thorough' investigation.

"The protection of the most vulnerable children in Ballarat is of paramount importance," she said.

"There are many questions that must be answered relating to agencies who failed to exercise their duty of care. Clearly there has been a reluctance to uphold accountability and accept responsibility.

"A community must feel confident that their government measures will actually perform the mission they are entrusted with.

"For our family we lost this confidence a long time ago but we still would encourage anyone who has concerns about the safety of children to speak up."

After the incident, the Kidd family decided to move back to the United Kingdom after 27 years in Australia to be near family for support, as they no longer trusted any carer or disability service in Australia.

We lost our capacity to trust any person or service with our daughter's care.

Michelle Kidd

"We lost our capacity to trust any person or service with our daughter's care. When Erin came home to us we felt that we had lost all options for her safe future," Mrs Kidd wrote in her victim impact statement.

"The damage that Lizzul has caused is irreversible and has affected our psychological and physical health while destroying our financial plans for a secure future. There is no closure or ending because the terrible event lives on in our minds, it will never disappear from our view."

Mrs Kidd said Erin's life was precious and she deserved the right to safety, dignity and respect, like all people, including the most vulnerable in society.

"She deserved to have her justice in an appropriate measure," she said.

"We her family must speak for her because she has no voice of her own and we say that a community corrections order is not enough while Lizzul remains free to walk the streets of Ballarat."

 

(Source)


Leave a comment


Please note, comments must be approved before they are published