Disability worker charged over alleged sexual assault of woman

August 11, 2020

A disability worker in Adelaide has been charged with the alleged sexual assault of a woman in his care.

Police arrested the 41-year-old man, from the north-eastern suburbs, at the weekend.

SA Police said the Department for Human Services (DHS) was working closely with investigators on the case.

The man was granted bail with strict conditions to appear in the Elizabeth Magistrates Court in September.

A DHS spokeswoman said it notified police of the “alleged incidents involving a disability worker” that it employed.

She clarified this meant the man “has been directed not to work while the matter is being investigated” but would not say if he was still being paid.

She said “people receiving support, their families and guardians are being notified” of the arrest.

“DHS has also established a phone service for family members and guardians who have concerns,” she said.

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said: “The Department of Human Services moved swiftly to report this alleged incident to police and took immediate steps to ensure the affected clients are safe and supported.”

In June, South Australian federal MP Rebekha Sharkie told Parliament the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s watchdog had failed to immediately investigate the rape of a disability care recipient “by one or more care workers”.

Ms Sharkie said she had received information from whistleblowers about that incident and others.

A report handed down earlier this month highlighted 14 “safeguarding gaps” in the disability care system.

It was sparked by the death of Ann Marie Smith from severe septic shock, multi-organ failure, severe pressure sores, malnutrition and issues connected with her cerebral palsy.

It also included seven recommendations for improvements, at state and federal levels.

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