Street view of Graceville Centre Nambour. Photo: Google Images
Street view of Graceville Centre Nambour. Photo: Google Images

‘Bruised’: Disability support staff assaulted on the job

A disability support worker left bruised and scratched was among several staff at a Coast facility who were assaulted by the same client.

The 26-year-old woman responsible faced 14 charges at Maroochydore Magistrates Court on Thursday after the assaults at Graceville Centre Nambour.

She had been living nearby the disability support centre when she first lashed out at a staff member in May last year, the court heard.

Magistrate Chris Callaghan said six common assault charges related to incidents where staff were grabbed by the wrists, placed into a bear hug, threatened or had items thrown at them.

He said an assault occasioning bodily harm charge arose from the woman gripping the arms and wrists of a carer until she suffered pain and bruising.

The court heard the woman broke a bail condition on three occasions by attending Graceville after the assaults, and not leaving when she was asked.

She was later relocated to a Buderim address.

Police prosecutor Lee Allan said the woman's behaviour had compromised the safety of clients and staff.

"The injuries sustained by (a female victim) caused her embarrassment and self doubt as to her abilities as a support worker," he said.

"The incident has caused (the victim) to feel an increased vigilance and wariness and concern that she may be the victim of future physical abuse.

"(Another victim) disclosed that post incident she felt the need to reconsider her employment choice working within the community service field.

"She had only recently completed university and was new at the role at the time of the offence."

Senior Constable Allan tendered a mental health report which described the 26-year-old as having a lower level of cognitive functioning and a mild intellectual disability.

"However the report goes on to say the defendant was not of an unsound at the time of the offending," Senior Constable Allan said.

He said she had previously faced court for assaulting staff at the centre and submitted a long period of probation was appropriate.

The Buderim woman on Thursday pleaded guilty to 14 charges.

Defence lawyer Patrick Meehan said his client took medication and at the time it had been changed which affected her behaviour.

"A person with a borderline personality disorder has characteristics which make it difficult, for the defendant in her case, to manage her impulses," he said.

Mr Callaghan considered the woman had made great achievements in her life considering the difficulties she had suffered.

He said he would impose a lesser punishment than what would normally be imposed for such charges and hoped probation would provide some support to the woman's carers.

She was sentenced to 12 months' probation.

No convictions were recorded.


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