A former disability carer has been charged with allegedly breaching Queensland’s workplace health and safety laws following an incident that left a man with horrific injuries that almost killed him.
- Eden Camac, who has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, broke both hips and a leg at a supported care facility in 2018
- Mitchell Hazzard, the former support worker, did not record or report the incident and put Mr Camac back to bed with his injuries
- Mr Hazzard now faces a maximum penalty of $150,000
The carer, Mitchell Hazzard, was working at a supported accommodation facility in Bundaberg run by Community Lifestyle Support (CLS) in October 2018 when Eden Camac, a young man with a complex disability, sustained life-threatening injuries.
Mr Camac, who was 25 at the time, broke both hips and his left leg, which doctors said was comparable to a car crash victim, and needed life-saving surgery before spending almost one month in hospital recovering.
He has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome (WHS), a condition that means he has an intellectual disability and impaired physical development. He uses a wheelchair and requires assistance with all aspects of daily life.
His parents, Sharon and Michael Camac – speaking publicly for the first since the charge was laid – said it was a great relief.
“Our reaction was really emotional,” Ms Camac said.
“We were very, very happy and very relieved. We were starting to doubt that, you know, another systemic failure was occurring.”
Mr Camac added: “Finally, finally something has happened. It should have happened earlier.”
Various systems ‘failed’ Eden Camac
On the night in question, disability support worker Mitchell Hazzard claimed he forgot to put up the bedrails and Mr Camac fell out of bed, which caused his injuries.
Mr Hazzard did not record or report the incident, and then put Mr Camac back to bed and left him to suffer with his injuries for approximately 10 hours, until another worker called an ambulance.
In July 2019, Sharon and Michael Camac went public on the ABC’s 7.30 program, claiming authorities had failed to properly investigate what had happened to their son.
“It really is about all the processes and systems in place and how they have failed Eden in this situation, from health to police, to department bodies,” Ms Camac said at the time.
The story sparked outrage, prompting an apology from then Queensland Minister for Disability Services Coralee O’Rourke, and sparking multiple investigations.
One of those probes was conducted by the safety regulator, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
In a statement following its investigation, the regulator said: “One charge has been laid against Mitchell Hazzard alleging a breach of … the duty Mr Hazzard held as a worker.”
“No other charges are to be laid against any other party.
“Assessments were also conducted in relation to Community Lifestyle Support but these did not result in any enforcement action being taken against the company.”
Mr Hazzard is yet to enter a plea to the charge and the case will return to the Bundaberg Magistrates Court on June 10.
He is facing a maximum penalty of $150,000.
7.30 attempted to contact Mr Hazzard but did not receive a response.
‘It’s taken so much effort to get to this point’
Sharon Camac said she was concerned it had taken persistent advocacy to force various authorities into acting.
“It’s two and a half years later, and we really haven’t stopped – we keep pursuing, you know, every avenue that we can,” Ms Camac said.
“I do believe that without us pursuing it on behalf of Eden, Eden still wouldn’t have the justice that he deserves, and the treatment that he deserves as well.”
The family is disappointed the safety regulator did not take enforcement action against Community Lifestyle Support in relation to the incident.
Eden is now 27 and has been moved to another facility run by the same service provider, CLS, and his family say his care has improved significantly.
However, he continues to need treatment for the injuries he suffered in the 2018 incident.
“He is still receiving treatment on a few areas of his lower limbs just because of the breaks and everything like that and the scar tissue,” Mr Camac said.
“There are just a lot of complications that come with that because he doesn’t walk around, which makes it even harder.”
Community Lifestyle Support did not answer a series of questions put to it by the ABC, citing the ongoing court case involving Mr Hazzard.