A Berkeley man who was king hit while a patient in the Shellharbour Hospital mental health unit says the ordeal has crippled him with fear, set back his own recovery and highlighted the disastrous state of the mental health system.
Marc Dudley was standing in the hallway near the reception at Mirrabrook on Saturday soon after returning from day release when he noticed an agitated man by the doorway.
"I was waiting there talking to my fiance because I wanted to catch the psychiatrist when I saw the bloke wanting to get out for a supervised cigarette break," Mr Dudley said.
I saw a bright flash in my left eye, was momentarily dazed and I had to grab onto the window to hold myself up.
"The staff told him they couldn't right then, and he seemed to get agitated."
"He tried a few more times then was was laying on the floor near the interior entry/exit doors. Next thing he jumped up suddenly.
"He walked quickly towards us and I thought he was going straight between us to turn into the dining area.
"I lost site of him and in a split second I was punched from behind.
"I saw a bright flash in my left eye, was momentarily dazed and I had to grab onto the window to hold myself up."
Mr Dudley said his attacker then went into the breakfast room "and jumped up and stomped on the head of another male patient laying in a bean bag".
"Another guy copped a few scratches on his face. Nursing staff subdued him," the 44-year-old said.
They directed my fiance and I straight to the outdoor area out of the way and they closed the area down while they escorted him, screaming to the room.
"They told us he had been sedated and was strapped down to a bed.
"Maybe they said that just to calm us, I don't know. We believe they called the medical team to assess him.
Mr Dudley was taken for a CT scan. He said he wasn't offered police assistance.
"After getting the CT scan I was allowed to leave Mirrabook, provided I came back Monday and get approval from them to get my discharge."
Mr Dudley said he was in the unit and on his fourth day of treatment after attempting to take his own life.
The trauma of the attack has had a massive impact on his own recovery.
"This has caused me so much anxiety. I go there for help and get attacked like that. I still cry about it. I will never ever go back to that place."
He is angry the man who attacked him was in Mirrabrook.
"That guy should have been in an acute unit. He is medication resistant, a paranoid schizophrenic, I heard the nurses say, and yet he was walking around in the yard. Like a cat among pigeons.
"Their job is to make me feel safe. There is no way I will ever go back to a place like that."
To add insult to injury Mr Dudley said he called police around 9pm Tuesday night to report the assault.
"They didn't arrive until 2.30am Wednesday morning and then didn't take my statement, said I had to come into the station so they could type it up.
"They walked in the door like I was the bad guy. I ended up in tears. I was the one who got attacked. Once you mention mental health you're labelled."
Mr Dudley says he asked that a different officer be arranged to take his statement. He's been waiting for five days.
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District Director Mental Health Julie Carter said the district was reviewing the incident.
She said mechanical restraints are never used and reiterated that the "consumer" was transferred to another ward without further incident.
The other patients involved "were offered police assistance".
"Patients have the right to expect their privacy will be maintained whilst in our care."