At approximately 8am this morning the NSW Sheriff and the NSW Police arrived at my father’s home to proceed with the eviction they had chosen to delay from yesterday with no further notice. Instead of my father experiencing such a traumatic event with the loving support of family and friends it was engineered that he be ripped from his home when he is unlikely to have a support network in place.
I was informed that the decision made yesterday to not proceed due to all the people and media present was not so their own actions wouldn’t be thoroughly held accountable but because they feared the scene would inspire my father to become more resistant (for show!). What kind of assessment is this?! They were knowledgeable that my father suffers from cognitive impairments. They are aware that he feels abandoned by the system. Yet they determine he would be more willing to cooperate when he is likely to feel thoroughly abandoned without family and friends supporting him during an event that showcases precisely how the system is being let down. Surely a man with questionable mental stability will act most unreasonably when they are despairing the most?
So fortunately I at least was present this morning. I had kept an eye out through the night since we had received no reassurement from the Sheriff’s office that a second attempt to conduct the eviction would occur at a reasonable hour. From the moment I saw the first car until officers reached the front gate I was unsuccessful in reaching any family members by phone to gather support and had to be relatively submissive to “requests” for entry as it was not in my father’s best interests to have me arrested and to be left all alone if the officers at the scene opted to react as impatiently and forcefully as their demeanour was suggesting.
At first I was to be kept entirely off the property to which I refused. I was not going to sit idly by as half a dozen officers converge on my anxious father without even being in earshot. So in the end I was allowed to remain partly down the walkway along the side of the house and was forced to have no role in easing the likely anxiety of my father.
It took the locksmith over an hour to gain full entry to the house which was not only avoidably traumatic for my father whom I’d overheard had been found cowering in the upstairs bathroom but for the locksmith himself who was so overwhelmed by the experience that he required ambulance assistance himself. I wish him a quick and full recovery from such an ordeal.
However despite the length of time, the obvious stress placed on the locksmith, and the voicing of my concerns that we hadn’t seen or heard from my dad since this eviction had begun, it was clearly being deemed that the risk of my dad having had collapsed from the stress long ago was worth the manageability of an undamaged property that could be easily secured once again in the favour of the banks.
Thankfully, and in all honesty incredibly, my father was still relatively alright, obviously distressed, and officers managed to escort him off the property without the use of force. However a big reason behind that was that even until the moment he was placed into a police car to be taken to hospital to be assessed he was still not understanding the magnitude of what had just happened and that he may not ever enter his home of over 40 years again.
This was made even more clear once my brother and I were allowed to finally see him in the hospital a few hours later. By that time he was eager to leave and return home because he still hadn’t eaten since yesterday and the simplicity of eating in his home is a practice that comforts and reassures him. Having been denied breakfast due to the eviction and with it not quite lunch time in the hospital apparently still no food was available to him anyway.
So my father was desperate to leave and, as has become a regular occurence since his financial management and guardianship has been issued to parties other than his family, my brother and I could only reject him rather than offer support for his wishes or provide manageable alternatives. With a police order on my father still in place confining him to the hospital’s care for now, and witnessing my father get more distressed and resentful towards me when all I want to do is comfort him and assure him that he is not alone and we can still find a way to fight this injustice, I was completely shattered.
My father felt so rejected and let down that he wanted us to leave him, and as much as it broke my heart I just didn’t have it in me to distress him further in my attempts to comfort him that have no chance of working in this cruelly managed environment that has been orchestrated for our family to navigate.
Knowing that my father was likely to attempt an escape at some point if left there for much longer and knowing that he would even at his age walk for miles if he was desperate and distressed, I was compelled to give him some cash since he was still in his bed clothes to ease any future journey if he took that path. Then I had to turn my back on him, and it broke my heart.
Earlier my brother and I had been informed of the initial assessment of my father by a doctor, mental health expert and social worker. It was deemed that he had no immediate physical concerns that required hospitalisation or care but that his apparent cognitive impairments were of enough of a concern considering the type of event that had just occurred that would rule out the temporary relocation of my father to a Port Stephens residence partly owned by my mother as there was no doubt that within a day or two he’d be back in Sydney trying to gain entry to his home.
At that point it was clear to me that since caring for my father had been made so unmanageable for us we had no option but to try to support a comprehensive assessment from geriatric specialists. The only major concern I raised was that we would certainly not support an assessment that did not offer my father the respect and professionalism of involving a Greek speaking doctor or interpreter. It’s bad enough that the system can still somehow honour a Power of Attorney for my father that was certified by a non-Greek speaking lawyer but to assess a man’s mental condition when you can’t even speak a language he is comfortable in using would be the most insane aspect of such an assessment. Thankfully the medical and social professionals we spoke to seemed respectful of such a request.
So having left our father in the ward, my brother and I left a voicemail for our only contact person there so that we could update her. After over an hour in the waiting room and receiving no response (which is of no discredit to the social worker who was no doubt run off her feet) we felt confident that there was no foreseeable change in the scenario. My father was under a police order and not allowed to leave. My family’s option of temporary relocation was no longer feasible and having been denied authority to act as guardians for my father there was no point of us getting distressed hanging around the hospital when we could no longer provide comfort for our father or have the authority to create an environment where we just might.
My brother and I left to fight our battles elsewhere and to try to recharge. Having barely shut my eyes for three days straight the emotional gravity and hopelessness of the situation was beginning to take its toll on me and I felt physically overwhelmed. I took a little time out to try to recover and my brother was awesome in being able to support me by receiving some of the important phone calls that I just couldn’t. It was revealed that incredibly the hospital apparently wanted to release him now and that somehow it was ethical for them to do so and of minimal risk!
How is it that I cannot be issued with the authority to manage either my father’s financial or lifestyle affairs yet it is upon me they wish to dump the responsibility of providing for the unmanageable man that they have shaped?! This is just inhumane.
That’s all I can bring myself to update for now. I am completely shattered. I am scared for the welfare of my father but feel powerless to make this scenario manageable for either him or me, let alone both. I am not broken but I cannot keep fighting this battle on every front. It’s not sustainable. I can only hope that any resentment he may feel towards me is not the final impression he’ll have of me and that I can live with myself if the Public Guardian fails to step up and my father just becomes another tragic statistic for a government department.
Thankfully I have friends and loved ones who’ll support me get through this setback and assist me regain some strength, composure and determination. Unfortunately the authorities deemed that providing my father with such a support network through this experience was unwise and sadly things will never be the same for him again…