Karen Smith : a Whistleblowing Woman in Queensland Health Aged Care.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter".
The words of Martin Luther King became Karen's Smith's inspiration to fight for ten years to bring about reform to Aged Care in Queensland.
Karen began working at Eventide, a large Brisbane nursing home, in 1999.
In 2000 she first reported to management her concerns about staff mistreatment of patients.
Karen later reported serious incidents, including the alleged s-xual assault of women in a dementia unit.
In 2004 Karen presented evidence of the assault and mistreatment of three Aged Care residents to the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission.
In 2008 Karen reported an incident in which a female resident was allegedly found unconscious after a nurse left her hanging in a hoist.
In 2009 Karen faced disciplinary action for her involvement in bringing aged care abuse cases to the attention of the media.
Karen is still suffering the consequences of her disclosure.
"The treatment you may endure when you become a whistleblower can be devastating," Karen says.
"I believe that Queensland Health will take any steps deemed necessary to stifle staff from speaking out.
This includes unnecessary disciplinary action, forced and unwarranted psychiatric evaluations, the use of the roster to cause loss of income for any staff who dare to complain and the use of the roster to reward staff who comply with the status quo.
"It is a culture of oppression."
Karen has called on Minister for Aging Justine Elliot to review complaints procedures.
And Karen wants to see the official policies and procedures actually implemented.
"And when there is irrefutable evidence that wrongdoing has occured, the perpetrators need to be held to account for their action," karen says.
Karen has now established a website SING - Silence Is Not Golden to detail her concerns and to support other whistleblower Aged Care workers.
Group fights silence on abuse cases, Australian Senior Publications, 27 February 2009.
"May the force be with you!" - a paper prepared by Karen Smith for the "Pathological Behaviours in the Workplace " conference, Ausmed Conferences PTY LTD, held on 16 December 2008.
Local whistleblower's plight is constant thorn in her side, Aged Care Crisis, 7 May 2008.
Women 'assaulted at nursing home", AAP, Roberta Mancuso, 26 March 2008.
Elderly abuse prompts Govt measures, Matt Peacock, The 7.30 report, ABC : 15 March 2006
bad Health Queensland.
Bad Health Queensland is a new website that has been established to support Queensland Health employees : http://badhealthqld.com/