Briefing: Family members causing harm to their loved ones living with disability
This paper highlights some of the possible reasons why family members are driven to extreme measures, such as harming their loved one. Some possible underlying factors are identified through researching specific cases where family members have caused harm to their loved one or have thought about doing so. Some key themes are raised for consideration to encourage further examination into why such events occur and to think about ways families and their loved ones living with disability can receive greater support.
In a 2009 court case in Adelaide, a court heard allegations that an elderly father shot his son living with disability so no one else would have to bear the burden of his care (Edwards 2009; McGregor 2009; Fewster 2008).
This case raises the serious social issue of family members harming their loved ones living with disability. No comment or implication is made or intended with respect to the circumstances of any particular case.
JFA felt it was important to explore some of the possible reasons why family members would consider causing harm to their loved ones. We examined the available information on a number of cases involving family members harming or threatening to harm their son or daughter living with disability. Using both Australian and New Zealand media and literature sources we identified six cases that have occurred over the past ten years.
In so doing, JFA identified some possible key factors which we felt needed to be highlighted and considered.This briefing paper explores some of the challenges and issues families face in regards to providing support for loved ones living with disability.