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According to the ndis.gov.au website “Continuity of support means that people who do not meet the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) access requirements but were accessing a disability service prior to being assessed by the NDIA will continue to receive support consistent with their current arrangements. Disability programs and services are all different, and the way that governments ensure continuity of support will need to be tailored to each program or service.”

There are continuity of support arrangements in with all states and territories (WA is different).

However, at this stage, there is some uncertainty around how long these agreements will last.

ILC: Information, Linkages and Capacity Building.

  • This ‘tier’ of the NDIS will become increasingly important.
  • ILC is open to people who are not in receipt of Individual Funding Packages (IFPs) (and their families and caregivers). ILC is also open to people who are in receipt of IFPs.
  • ILC is part of the overall ‘ideology’ of the NDIS, which seeks to promote inclusion across the community (rather than segregated services).
  • ILC does not provide direct support services.

There are 5 main areas in ILC:

  1. Information, linkages and referrals
  2. Capacity building of mainstream services
  3. Community awareness and capacity building
  4. Individual capacity building
  5. Local Area Coordination

Thus ILC –

  • Aims to link individuals to mainstream services and build the capacity of communities, mainstream service providers (including everything from art galleries to recreational programs in school after-care) to be more inclusive, and therefore to actually provide services, opportunities, access for people with disability.
  • Is the area in which individual capacity building also sits.
  • It is the area of the NDIS where there should be a well-researched store of knowledge about local communities and services, to enable linkages.
  • Disability Support Organisations (peer support) type activities are most likely to continue under ILC.
  • ILC will be a major funding source for training. It will fund training that is designed to build the capacity of mainstream organisations to become more inclusive. This includes attitudinal change.

The NDIS:

  • funds the individual, not the service provider.
  • lasts for a lifetime, not just for the length of a government funded program.
  • aims to be national with national standards
  • is not a medical or remedial model.
  • is influenced by the social model.
  • the NDIS clearly acknowledges the “Agency's work sits within a broader commitment by governments to advance the interests of people with disability, their families and carers across Australia as outlined in the National Disability Strategy (NDS).”
  • the first goal of the NDIS is that “People with disability are in control and have choices, based on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”

For advocacy organisations like PWDA, this person-centred, social modelled, rights focus is relatively obvious.

It is not as obvious to service providers, many of who have worked in medical, normalising, remedial models for a long time.

Which means that even with the NDIS, the services on offer can often aimed at, and limited to, ‘fixing’ the ‘problem’ of disability which is seen as sited in the person, not in society.

These conceptual and practical limitations in support should change but it will take time, effort and action. It will present restrictions and frustrations for some time to come. Organisations such as PWDA should be ‘change agents’ in this process of real-world moving and expansion of supports across the community.

The NDIS is:

Not means tested.

It does not affect your DSP (Disability Support Pension).

It is subject to residency requirements. You need to be

  • an Australian citizen OR
  • hold a Permanent Visa OR
  • hold a Protected Special Category Visa, that is you
    • were in Australia on a Special Category Visa on 26 February 2001 or
    • had been in Australia for at least 12 months in the 2 years immediately before 26 February 2001 and you returned to Australia after that day.

The NDIS is subject to eligibility requirements. The NDIS website summarises eligibility as:

  • you have an impairment or condition that is likely to be permanent (i.e. it is likely to be life-long) and
  • your impairment substantially reduces your ability to participate effectively in activities, or perform tasks or actions unless you have:
    • assistance from other people or
    • you have assistive technology or equipment (other than common items such as glasses) or
    • you can’t participate effectively even with assistance or aides and equipment and
  • your impairment affects your capacity for social and economic participation and
  • you are likely to require support under the NDIS  for your lifetime.

An impairment that varies in intensity e.g. because the impairment is of a chronic episodic nature may still be permanent, and you may require support under the NDIS for your lifetime, despite the variation. (http://www.ndis.gov.au/people-disability/access-requirements) More information about eligibility is available by clicking here.

The NDIS effectively has 3 ‘tiers’. These have become:

  • IFP – the individually funded package ‘tier’
  • ILC – information, linkages and capacity building.

IFP – Individually funded packages

This is what most people equate with the NDIS – but government assumptions are only for 460,000 individually funded packages. There are many more people with disability in Australia, some of whom will link with supports through the ILC (see below) and/or have their current supports continued through the Commonwealth/state continuity agreements (also see below).

IFP plans are absolutely central to the IFP.

Individually Funded Plans (IFPs) are what the name suggests – plans for the individual person’s services and support. Plans are made annually, and should be made with the person and an NDIS planner, and made according to the person’s goals and needs.

You can take an advocate or other supporter with you to a planning meeting.

To make the most of it you should be well-prepared for a planning meeting (see below).

From July 1, 2016 across Australia 12,000 people per month will be ‘’rolled over’’ from existing provision to the NDIS. In the real world of the roll over initial planning meetings may well be short and not ideal. One of the plusses of the NDIS is, however, that your plan is not set in concrete and can be reviewed and is open to revision – and expansion – each year.

Experience in trial sites and early roll out sites to date show plans vary enormously – in dollar terms, breadth and depth of supports, and in the conceptual framework – some plans are ‘same old, same old’, and simply repeat what the person had under the old system, while others really look around the community and pull in a pile of innovative options that the person will use to truly support what they want their lives to be.

IFP plans involve having “goals and aspirations” which can be translated into a plan, the funded elements of which are “reasonable and necessary” to enable a “good” or “ordinary” life. (“Good” was the term used up until recently when “ordinary” has crept in).

There is quite a lot on the NDIS website about what are “reasonable and necessary” supports – the easy English version is actually probably the best, (downloadable from menu on right hand side from http://www.ndis.gov.au/participants/reasonable-and-necessary-supports). There are screen reader versions and several community language versions.

The IAC (Independent Advisory Council) analysis of such supports is complicated, but comprehensive: http://www.ndis.gov.au/about-us/governance/IAC/iac-reasonable-necessary-lifespan

Over the trial time, the NDIS has modified the initial Price Guide used in the planning process in the attempt to make supports, funding, and implementation of NDIS plans more individual and flexible. This will be discussed below under the price guide. 

IFPs will not directly provide:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Housing (bricks and mortar or rent).

However, IFPs can, in some cases, augment what is provided through these system, and/or fund supports that enable people to access these systems.

Health

There are also a number of health/NDIS interface fact sheets for specific areas of need. See this factsheet for details.

Education

The NDIS will fund supports which link and enable access to education - see this factsheet for details.

(Mobility allowance: mobility allowance ceases once a person has an IFP. Mobility allowance, through Centrelink, continues for people who will not have an IFP but are eligible for mobility allowance.)

Housing

The NDIS will not pay your rent or build a house. It will pay for modifications to your house that are necessary for your functional independence.

The NDIS will make limited contributions to Specialist Disability Accommodation. The website puts this as:

“Some Australians living with disability require access to Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) in order to best meet their needs. This may be due to physical needs, or requiring high levels of support. From July 1 2016, eligible participants requiring access to SDA will have funding included in their plan to cover any disability-related housing costs that are above the ordinary costs of housing.

This SDA funding is not intended to cover support costs, which are assessed and funded separately by the NDIS. It is an adjusted contribution to the cost of the physical building, including the land it is on. This contribution will ensure that participants don't have to pay more for their homes because of their disability….

The policy intent of the Framework is to establish a competitive price that attracts market players to supply new and appropriate dwelling stock. It also considers the need for stability in the transition from existing SDA arrangements to the NDIS.

Continuity of Support

The IFP ‘tier’ of the NDIS is intended for around 460,000 people. That leaves out an unquantified number of people who are currently in receipt of some supports. Most states and territories have signed agreements with the Commonwealth/NDIS to provide continuity of support for people who have services now, but who will not qualify for IFP.

“Continuity of support means that people who do not meet the … (NDIS) access requirements but were accessing a disability service prior to being assessed by the NDIA will continue to receive support consistent with their current arrangements. Disability programs and services are all different, and the way that governments ensure continuity of support will need to be tailored to each program or service.

A number of disability support programs will continue once the NDIS is introduced, and people accessing these programs will continue to access the same supports if they do not become a participant in the NDIS. Some disability programs, especially specialist disability services, will be rolled into the NDIS.

"… Each government is responsible for providing continuity of support within the programs that government funds.” 

State governments are generally moving the provision of these continued supports away from government and into the NGO, private sector. In NSW, Australian Unity has the contract for HomeCare services previously run or funded through ADHC.

Continuity agreements should cover a significant number of the 440,000 people (on NDIS estimates) who live with disability but who will not be eligible for IFPs.

Continuity agreements do not cover new participants.

PWDA’s Disability Support Organisation project, which started in 2015, is now funded through till mid-2017. The DSO is part of the transition to the NDIS. The DSO fosters peer-led peer support networks (PSNs) of people with disability, and develops information and capacity building resources for specific groups.

So far, PWDA’s DSO has reached a wide variety of people with disability, in various parts of NSW. We have also begun scoping needs and possibilities for targeted resources for remote and regional communities through our office in Mt Isa. Often, members of peer support groups have chosen to emphasise gathering information about the NDIS; there’s also been some forthright discussion, enjoyable capacity building and social interaction.

In 2017, PWDA’s DSO will continue to partner with other representative organisations for on-going face to face groups and resource development with:

  • People with disability who identify as LGBTIQA (Sydney metro)
  • People living with HIV (Sydney metro, across NSW)
  • People living in Nepean, Blue Mountains areas
  • People in DeafBlind and Blind and Low Vision communities (Sydney metro)
  • People living in assisted accommodation in the Hunter Region (Newcastle).

As well as these ongoing PSNs and partnerships, over the next few months the DSO will attempt to make contact with younger people with disability, particularly young people living in regional and remote areas.

The DSO will be sponsoring a series of young people’s forums and establishing an active social media presence through facebook groups for young people in specific geographic regions and/or young people who have specific areas of interest or concern.

If you would like more information about

  • an existing group,
  • would like the DSO to consider starting a new group,
  • are interested in using resources,
  • are interested in Facebook groups, or
  • want to enquire about the project in general:

Please contact: Kate Finch at PWDA (see contacts on this website).

Regional, rural, remote? Please contact us and discuss how the DSO can best reach you!

PWDA is part of the Australian NGO Coalition preparing for Australia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council in November 2015.  The UPR is a mechanism for the UN Human Rights Council to review the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.  Australia was last reviewed under the UPR in January 2011.

PWDA has worked with a Disability Coordination Group to jointly prepare the section on people with disability for the Australian NGO Coalition report and Fact Sheets.  The Disability Coordination Group is made up of PWDA, the Australian Centre for Disability Law (ACDL), Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) and Advocacy for Inclusion (AFI). 

More information on these activities is available on the website of the Human Rights Law Centre.  The Twitter hashtag for the UPR is #AusUPR

UPR Disability Coordination Group Fact Sheets on Human Rights of People with Disability 

Main Disability Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet 1 - Forced Sterilisation

Fact Sheet 2 - Indefinite Detention

Fact Sheet 3 - Involuntary Treatment

Fact Sheet 4 - Restrictive Practices

Fact Sheet 5 - Legal Capacity

Fact Sheet 6 - Violence in institutions

NGO Coalition Fact Sheets on Human Rights in Australia

To assist States, NHRIs and NGOs to participate in the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of Australia in 2015, the NGO coalition has prepared a range of thematic fact sheets, which contained more detailed information. You can click the links below to view Word Document versions of the fact sheets.

Fact Sheet 1 – Constitutional, Legislative and Institutional framework

Fact Sheet 2 – Equality & Non Discrimination

Fact Sheet 3 – Democratic Rights & Freedoms

Fact Sheet 4 – Administration of Justice

Fact Sheet 5 – Poverty

Fact Sheet 6 – Housing and Homelessness

Fact Sheet 7 – Counter-terrorism

Fact Sheet 8 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Fact Sheet 9 – Gender Equality

Fact Sheet 10 – Disability

Fact Sheet 11 – Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Fact Sheet 12 – Children’s Rights

Fact Sheet 13 – Culturally and Linguistically Diverse People and Communities

Fact Sheet 14 – Rights of Older People

Fact Sheet 15 – Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex

Fact Sheet 16 – Prisoners

Fact Sheet 17 – Police

Fact Sheet 18 – International Assistance and Business

To view these fact sheets in a PDF format please click this link.

The NSW Government Policy ‘Stop the Violence – End the Silence NSW Domestic and Family Violence Action Plan’ (NSW Premier and Cabinet Office For Women’s Policy, page 17) describes the range of behaviours associated with domestic and family violence to include:

  • Physical abuse – direct assaults on the body (shaking, slapping, pushing), use of weapons, driving dangerously, destruction of property, abuse of pets in front of family members, assault of children, locking the victim out of the house, and sleep deprivation.
  • Sexual abuse – any form of forced sex or sexual degradation, such as sexual activity without consent, causing pain during sex, assaulting genitals, coercive sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually-transmitted disease, making the victim perform sexual acts unwillingly, criticising, or using sexually-degrading insults.
  • Emotional abuse – blaming the victim for all problems in the relationship, constantly comparing the victim with others to undermine self-esteem and self-worth, sporadic sulking, withdrawing all interest and engagement (e.g. weeks of silence), blackmail.
  • Verbal abuse – continual ‘put downs’ and humiliation, either privately or publicly, with attacks following clear themes that focus on intelligence, sexuality, body image and capacity as a parent and spouse. 
  • Social abuse – systematic isolation from family and friends through techniques such as ongoing rudeness to family and friends, moving to locations where the victim knows nobody, and forbidding or physically preventing the victim from going out and meeting people. 
  • Economic abuse – complete control of all monies, no access to bank accounts, providing only an inadequate ‘allowance’, using any wages earned by the victim for household expenses. 
  • Spiritual abuse – denying access to ceremonies, land or family, preventing religious observance, forcing victims to do things against their beliefs, denigration of cultural background, or using religious teachings or cultural tradition as a reason for violence.

The Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse favours a definition of domestic violence adopted by the Commonwealth Partnership Against Domestic Violence Program which states:

‘Domestic violence is an abuse of power perpetrated mainly (but not only) by men against women both in relationships and after separation. It occurs when one partner attempts physically or psychologically to dominate and control the other. Domestic violence takes a number of forms. The most commonly acknowledged forms are physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional and social abuse and economic deprivation. Many forms of domestic violence are against the law. (From Partnerships Against Domestic Violence Statement of Principles, agreed by the Australian Heads of Government at the 1997 National Domestic Violence Summit).'

The Code of Practice for the NSW Police Force response to Domestic and Family Violence(Code of Practice, pg 6) notes:

Many forms of domestic and family violence are criminal. These include: physical violence, sexual assault, stalking, property damage, threats and homicide. Other forms of domestic and family violence, while not categorised as criminal offences, can be just as harmful to victims and their families, including the use of coercive or controlling behaviours that may cause a person to live in fear, or to suffer emotional and psychological torment, financial deprivation or social isolation.'

The recently announced NSW Government plan, Stronger Together - A new direction for disability services in NSW 2006–2016 notes the following commitment:

‘the NSW Government is ensuring that its policies under Stronger Together will comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’.

PWDA welcomes this commitment and looks forward to working with the NSW Government to ensure it applies CRPD to the licensed boarding house sector, in order to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all people with disability who live in this sector.

Australia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2008, thereby committing to abide by the obligations set out in the treaty. Importantly this international treaty  identifies the rights of persons with disability as well as the obligations of governments to ‘promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all people with disabilities and to promote respect for their inherent dignity’.

PWDA’s report, Accommodating Violence, and the evidence provided in this document, Setting the record straight clearly demonstrates that there are significant human rights breaches within licensed boarding houses.  In particular, our evidence demonstrates that there are breaches in relation to the following Articles of the CRPD:

  • Article 6, Women with disabilities;
  • Article 10, Right to Life; 
  • Article 15, Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • Article 16, Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse; 
  • Article 19, Living independently and being included in the community; 
  • Article 21, Freedom of expression and opinion and access to information; 
  • Article 22, Respect for privacy; 
  • Article 26, Habilitation and rehabilitation;
  • Article 28, Adequate standard of living and social protection

(* indicates references used in Accommodating Violence report)
Failures in legislative and regulatory frameworks and monitoring and compliance practices, a flawed model of accommodation, a void in policy guidelines and best practice, and limited access to alternative services and support have left persons with disability living in licensed boarding houses highly vulnerable and at foreseeable risk of abuse. In such environments the risk and incidence of domestic violence is exacerbated. 

The information outlined below clearly demonstrates evidence of:

  • a framework of systemic failures which leave people with disability in licensed boarding houses at a heightened level of risk;
  • the systemic history of human rights abuse experienced by people with disability living in licensed boarding houses;
  •  barriers which limit the protection of people with disability living in licensed boarding houses who are significantly marginalised and highly vulnerable; and
  • extensive knowledge  of the vulnerability and marginalised situation faced by people with disability living in licensed boarding houses; and
  • a range of stakeholders making claims that people with disability living in licensed boarding houses have a poor quality of life and one which is highly vulnerable to abuse and neglect.

Legislative Council  Report 44 – November 2010: Standing Committee on Social Issues Services provided or funded by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care

“Committee comment:
9.168 The Committee is concerned about the level of care provided to persons with a disability in both licensed and unlicensed boarding houses. It is evident to the Committee that boarding house residents are some of the most vulnerable and marginalized in society.” pg 193

Official Community Visitors Scheme Submission to Standing Committee on Social Issues Services provided or funded by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, 8 August 2010

“ Sadly, the near forty-year history of this Act is replete with proposals for change yet bereft of any meaningful reform. The Act has arguably failed the very people it was to have provided for given that there is no requirement for proprietors of licensed boarding houses to provide planning for or the delivery of individually targeted activities, community integration and proactive health care that
would deliver an improved quality of life.” pg 3

“Licensed under the YACS Act these services are privately owned and for profit services. Proprietors are not required to meet legislated Disability Service Standards. This results in a large number of people ( close to 1000) with a disability being marginalised receiving a lesser service than their peers which may not, in some cases, even meet UN statements of human rights”. pg 5

Homeless Persons Legal Service – Public Interest Advocacy Centre Submission to Standing  Committee on Social Issues Services provided or funded by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, 17 August 2010

“Concerns have been raised time and again regarding the adequacy of ADHC's monitoring of LRCs. A report prepared by the NSW Ombudsman in 2006 found that routine monitoring of LRCS did not take place in most instances and that just under a third of all LRCs had not been the subject of a complete Full Service Review. The Ombudsman also found many other gaps in ADHC monitoring of LRCs. There is no evidence to date that ADHC has adequately addressed the concerns raised in this report”. pg 8

“HPLS is concerned that ADHC's drive to reform the licensed boarding house sector has waned. There is no evidence of a clear policy direction in relation to the future of the licensed boarding house industry, with the issue of boarding houses warranting only a passing mention in ADHC's policy document Stronger Together. Outdated and ineffective legislation remains in place, while ADHC appears to only partially fulfil its functions under this weak legislative regime. Meanwhile vulnerable residents of LRCs continue to live in a fundamentally flawed form of accommodation.” pg 9

NSW Ombudsman Submission to Standing   Committee on Social Issues Services provided or funded by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, 17 August 2010

“There is currently significant variation in service delivery and standards relating to people with disabilities, depending on the model of accommodation they reside in. The existing requirements within the Youth and Community Services Act 1973 (YACS ACT) are well below those afforded to people with disabilities residing in other forms of care and have insufficient focus on the quality of service provision required to meet the health, safety and wellbeing of residents.

We consider that a review of the legislation is required to resolve the broader questions regarding the appropriateness of boarding house accommodation for some people with disabilities, to afford greater protection to residents of licensed and unlicensed boarding houses, and to uphold the rights of people with disabilities living in those facilities”. pg 2-3

Report of Proceedings before Standing Committee on Social Issues Inquiry into Services Provided or funded by Ageing, Disability and Home Care - At Sydney on Friday 3 September 2010, pg 51

“Ms Hewitt: … my organisation does a fair bit of work in boarding house reform, assisting where boarding houses are closing and assisting to find support for those people who often have lived in fairly desperate circumstances for many years and they are often those people with the milder disabilities who fell through the cracks early on and did not get much so as their life circumstances change they have ended up in congregate care—care is not the word for it but congregate living situations where they have had to trade favours for cigarettes and live in fairly sometimes filthy and disease ridden places. We have been working with some of those people to look at what they want, how they want to live.

Most of them, when you first ask them, have no idea. In fact they will often say, "I want to go to such and such a boarding house" because that is all they have ever known. But we have had some great success in actually supporting those people to live independently in the community with some drop in support, and that is sometimes on their own or it is with other people but they have lives that they never would have dreamt of. So asking people in the first instance, that takes a bit of work because it takes a bit of work both for the people and their families to understand what the options are. Often when you ask them at first, all they have ever known is the institution or the boarding house, and it does take some work to actually project to them that this might be possible.

The Hon. MARIE FICARRA: Even with the Government improving its regulation of such boarding houses, that even if this were to lead to those owners of boarding houses placing them on the open market because, for whatever reason, they no longer become profitable and therefore those boarding houses are out of the system, do you believe that it may be expensive for the Government at the time but in the long term it is a far better thing for your clients?

Ms HEWITT: To be out of the boarding house?

The Hon. MARIE FICARRA: Out of the boarding house.

Ms HEWITT: Absolutely. If I think of the genesis for some of those boarding houses, many of them were established by people with good intent, people who saw people on the streets or coming out of institutions or not having had any service who really required a place to live, and they have started off with good intent but having people living in those circumstances in a congregate environment will never work. It is never going to work. So absolutely people are better off out of it.”

Youth and Community Services Regulation 2010 Report on responses to Regulatory Impact Statement. Ageing, Disability and Home Care. July 2010

“3.2 The rationale for Government action - Appropriate regulation is essential, as many people with a disability are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation” pg 20

Key issues raised by residents and noted as matters for broader reform and guidelines:

“Residents’ comments suggest need for right to make own decisions about daily life, eg bedtime, clothing, meals” and “need for right to report complaints or abuse without retribution”. pg 36

Active Linking Initiative (ALI) Evaluation - Final Report. Robyn Edwards and Karen R. Fisher.Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, February 2010 *

“ALI providers emphasised they needed to have good relationships with the boarding house manager and staff in order for ALI to be effective. If ALI had a bad relationship, the boarding house could simply say that no residents wanted to participate in ALI. In this sense, ALI is reliant on the goodwill of the boarding house manager to permit residents to participate. As one ALI provider explained, ALI workers at one boarding house were not able to walk around the house and talk with residents independently. Rather, when the ALI worker arrived at the front door, the manager provided the worker with a list of residents who could go out for the day. Attempts by ALI to change this practice have not been successful. At other boarding houses, ALI workers have more opportunity to engage with clients at their place of residence.” pg 33

“Some LRCs have a culture and history, where managers feel they have ‘ownership’ over residents.” pg 34

“LRCs sometimes prevent residents from using the ALI”. pg 34

NSW Ombudsman Annual Report 2008-2009, Case study 32 pg. 65

The death of a resident in 2008 raised questions about living conditions at a licensed boarding house and the adequacy of monitoring by DADHC. Our review of the man’s death found that hospital staff had raised concerns about his hygiene and nutrition during an admission to hospital for pneumonia three months before. At that time, hospital staff noted that the man was at high risk of malnutrition and they had to use a peroxide solution to remove dirt from his skin and nails.

The man was found in his room by a staff member at the boarding house. He had been dead for at least 12 hours and had blood stains on his fingers, head and clothes. There was also evidence of blood stains on the walls and body tissue was found on two exposed nails on the back of the door to the room.

The police officers who attended the scene reported that the man’s bedclothes were covered with cobwebs and dust, and faeces and used toilet paper were strewn around the room. There were also several unopened sandwich packages in the room.

At the same time as our review of the man’s death, official community visitors complained to us about the failure of the licensed boarding house manager to address concerns they had identified. These included domestic duties not being attended to, smoking by residents indoors, the selling of cigarettes on the premises, broken windows, limited access to bathrooms and the dining room, and unsecured medication left on a shelf in the kitchen.

We met with DADHC to discuss these concerns. They told us about initiatives in place to improve the support provided to residents at the boarding house and to monitor compliance with the licence conditions. They also advised us that they were seeking legal advice in relation to the boarding house’s ongoing failure to comply with many of the conditions of their licence.

DADHC subsequently told us they received legal advice that they did not have the power to enforce the licence conditions that apply to the health, wellbeing and cleanliness of residents and the facility. They said they were considering their options — including prosecution and/or revocation of the licence — in relation to the licensee’s failure to comply with a fire safety order issued by the local council.

This year a decision was made to close the boarding house and DADHC are now in the process of finding alternative accommodation for the residents.

In PWD’s view this case study is clear evidence of human rights violations and the violence and abuse people with disability have experienced in licensed boarding houses.  It exemplifies the ongoing individual and systemic abuse (failure to recognise, provide or attempt to provide adequate or appropriate services, including services that are appropriate to that person’s age, gender, culture, needs or preferences) and neglect of people with disability residing in licensed boarding houses. 
As this man was discharged from hospital back to the licensed boarding house responsible for his initial presentation, there was foreseeable risk of further abuse and neglect, yet it is unclear whether any attempts were made to avoid this situation. This clearly diminished this man’s universal right to live in freedom from violence, abuse and exploitation let alone his right to services and supports which promote his quality of life (Article 10 - Right to Life: Article 16 - Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse: Article 25 - Health: Article 26 – Habilitation and rehabilitation: Article 28 - Adequate standard of living and social protection – UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities). 
The case study highlights the inadequate provision of care and support for people with disability living in licensed boarding houses in NSW, especially in relation to the hospital discharge planning, case management and options for alternative accommodation and support services.

It is PWD’s view that current planning options for relocation of residents from licensed boarding houses are inadequate. The most common scenario that triggers relocation options for people with disability in boarding houses is when the operator gives notice of the intended closure of the boarding house. In some of these cases the planning and transition processes for people with disability to permanent alternative accommodation has been long and drawn out. Occasionally, it arises from a change in the person’s needs and recognition that these can no longer be met in the licensed boarding house. However, as is clear from the case study above this is not always guaranteed. Even more rarely is such a process triggered by individual choice. Under current guidelines, individual choice would not be sufficient to prioritise a person’s access to planning options for alternative accommodation and support.

The case study also demonstrates the inadequate regulations and monitoring mechanisms in place within the licensed sector to ensure quality of life outcomes for people with disability. The case study records a positive outcome in that a decision was made to close the boarding house, however what it fails to note is that this closure came about as a result of the death of the licensee and not as a result of a successful prosecution of criminal charges or proactive action taken by ADHC to revoke the licence for the operation of this premises.

Finally and perhaps the most frustrating issue highlighted by this case study is that the death of this man was preventable. Had there been higher standards of care, improved monitoring and the enforceability of licence conditions relevant to promoting the health, safety and wellbeing of people with disability and better planning and service co-ordination to ensure the relocation of residents at risk of abuse, in crisis or simply as a matter of choice, this man may have lived to experience a far better quality of life than the one he had prior to his death.

Official Community Visitor Annual Report 2006-2007, pg 11*

Major issues by subject, number and percentage raised by Official Community Visitors in relation to licensed boarding houses:
“Issue 2: Safety — 23 (16%)
Licensed boarding houses should ensure the safety of residents. Visitors identified 23 initial instances of the failure of licensed boarding houses to protect residents from abuse and assault, usually by other residents.”

Official Community Visitor Annual Report 2005-2006 *

Outcomes for residents – Services for people in licensed boarding houses 
Failure of licensed boarding houses to protect residents from abuse and assault (28%).

Alt Beatty Consulting, Stakeholder Consultations for Review of the Youth and Community Services Act 1973 (Dec 2004). Report of a project commissioned by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care. *
Section 3: Residents’ Interests

Many residents “expressed a lack of power, ability or advocates to achieve their expectations and rights. They wanted support to ensure that expectations were met and that their basic rights were upheld. However, most seemed to hold little expectation that such support would be forthcoming from Government or others, and saw their rights as theoretical rather than realised’. pg 15-16
“Most of the residents said that they shared a room, some with two or three other people… they had a number of concerns about who they shared with. They would prefer:

  • to be offered choice about who they shared with;
  • being able to lock their room for privacy, protection of their belonging and for personal safety.

They wanted to feel safe from some other residents and felt concerned about the presence of people with aggressive and sexual behaviours. A number spoke of actual or feared assaults. They also wanted their concerns about safety to be taken seriously and to know that in this area they will get “support and won’t be brushed off” pg 16.

“Privacy and freedom from disturbance was consistently mentioned, with some noting that they had nowhere private to meet friends. Many residents also spoke of managers and staff routinely opening their mail.

While most residents said they were free to come and go from centres as they wanted, there was discussion about restricted movement from one centre, particularly at night.

Some residents were concerned about other intrusions into their privacy and activities, including some managers wanting to know when they were coming back if they were going out, or who was on the telephone if they received calls.

A number of residents said they wanted more information about their rights and more support in achieving them.

The manager says we can leave anytime we want if we complain.” pg 17

As part of the Disability and Domestic Violence Project consultations were held with disability, domestic violence and licensed boarding house representatives located in the Sydney inner west area of the AHDC Metro South region. These consultations aimed to gather information on the understanding, incidence and nature of domestic violence in licensed boarding houses, as well as processes that were in place to prevent and respond to these incidents when they occur. This information was used to inform the findings of the Accommodating Violence report.

The group attending the disability services consultation held in April 2010 consisted of representatives from a range of funded disability service providers and government agencies who were involved in supporting residents of licensed boarding houses.  As a group they were asked a series of questions, these questions and the groups answers are outlined below:

Is domestic violence an issue for people with disability in licensed boarding houses, if so, what does this look like?
Representatives were unanimous in their statement that domestic violence in the forms of physical violence in the home, threat of harm, shoving, hitting, biting, emotional blackmail, verbal abuse, intimidation, fear of harm, financial abuse-manipulation-control, isolation, withdrawal of activities/services, sexual abuse, aggressive/attitude/manner, exploitation (eg cigarettes), controlling, enforcing restrictions, retribution, stalking, misuse of power  was a daily experience for people with disability living in licensed boarding houses, whether this be resident to resident or resident to staff/paid/unpaid carer on whom they are dependent.

Who are most vulnerable and what makes people in licensed boarding houses particularly vulnerable?

  • Some people are more vulnerable than others, in particular those with less capacity to stand up for themselves such as people with intellectual disability;
  • those people who are used by staff to do jobs around the home then as a result are yelled at or denied things;
  • those with little or no family involvement;
  • those people who are under the financial control of the licensed manager because they ‘manage their money’;
  • those who do speak out and make complaints or raise concerns, they are more likely to be targeted;
  • abuse is normalised as an experience which is common to this kind of accommodation by both residents and service providers;
  • residents lack a knowledge of their rights and if they do know their rights they know that they have no legal tenure and can be kicked out if they make any complaint;
  • people are particularly vulnerable at night particularly due to a lack of adequate staff supervision. Some boarding houses are very large and one staff member on duty overnight cannot know or have control over everything that goes on;
  • residents commonly experience emotional abuse where they can be verbally abused one minute and then told they are loved by the staff the next;
  • their long term residency, dependency and association with the boarding house manager/staff can add to their sense of dependence and therefore vulnerability;
  • the controlling nature/culture of the boarding house means people are commonly interrogated about their activities, conversations. They are commonly monitored and judged.

What does the response by support agencies look like?

  • threat of, or actual homelessness of the resident;
  • threat of retribution to the resident or service provider supporting them;
  • actual retribution to residents for talking to persons external to the licensed boarding house;
  • ADHC encourages the reporting of complaints and concerns to ADHC . With evidence ADHC are in a better position to pursue breaches of licence conditions and/or reiterate to the licensee/licensed manager their obligations under the licence conditions. A history of evidence is essential if ADHC are going to pursue a prosecution.
  • the relocation of  the resident.

To what extent does the disability sector seek legal remedies for clients in licensed boarding houses?

  • none of the participants had ever sought this kind of remedy;
  • violence and abuse in licensed boarding houses hasn’t been considered by this group as constituting domestic violence.

What is stopping disability service providers seeking remedies?

  • the client’s choice. In many cases the client is too scared of repercussions if they do speak out;
  • line management reporting. Front line staff report incidents of abuse, violence, concerns to their manager and then the responsibility for action lies with them. Query whether action is being taken by managers;
  • fear of causing a fuss about one person becomes a concern and risk for everyone. General outcomes aimed for by service providers are subsequently limited and affects many more people.

What is a successful outcome?

  • violence stops and the person receives a compassionate response;
  • alternative options of suitable alternative accommodation and support is facilitated. The fact that there is limited disability support and housing support services for people with disability, particularly those with low care needs, is a significant barrier as they rarely have any alternative choice of accommodation. Lack of legal tenure and no alternatives means that people are silenced into accepting violence within their domestic settings;
  • attitudinal change in Licensed boarding house staff;
  • staff training provided to licensed boarding house staff (currently there no specific requirements with regard to specified competencies or  qualifications);
  • part of the success of an outcome is simply having someone believe in the victims story.

What do you want in way of support and sector development to address these issues?

  • series of seminars for the licensed sector;
  • relocation of residents to alternative suitable accommodation – not just to another boarding house;
  • staff and managers of licensed boarding houses to receive training on abuse and neglect and the understand the criminal implications of certain behaviours;
  • ADHC full service review action plans to incorporate training and service development recommendations as part of their expectation of compliance;
  • regular sector forums/workshops on issues generally so that service providers gain a better understanding of the pathways to action;
  • training and education opportunities for residents;
  • a mechanism to tap into information sources – recommendations to group included Domestic Violence Coalition, Australian Domestic Violence Clearing House bulletins, participation in Ombudsman consultations, use of ECAV – Education Centre Against Violence.

PWDA become aware of the following cases through its advocacy involvement with people with disability living in licensed boarding houses during the project.

Each of these case studies are examples of domestic violence incidents which involve physical violence; fear of, or threat of harm; verbal abuse; intimidation; financial exploitation or manipulation;  withdrawal of activities,  services;  sexual abuse; methods of control, enforcement of restrictions; retribution; and misuse of power.

For the range of reasons stated in the Accommodating Violence report, none of these matters have been viewed or responded to, as domestic violence incidents. In fact, in the majority of these cases, advocates have faced many challenges in achieving satisfactory and timely progress on the resolution of these matters.

Each of these examples, is known to Ageing, Disability and Home Care as matters which have been referred to ADHC by PWD Advocates or come to the attention of PWD Advocates through processes such as the closure of a licensed boarding house which is co-ordinated by ADHC or as referrals from ADHC Boarding House Caseworkers.

  1. A person with disability is physically assaulted by a staff member when he is grabbed around the neck. This person alleges that as a result of the staff person squeezing him hard and roughly he was left with a flesh wound which needed to be dressed afterwards. This allegation has been referred to ADHC, however the staff member involved continues to work at the licensed boarding house.


  2. In a licensed boarding house where there is strong resistance to the involvement of external services, resident spokespersons advised advocates that none of the residents wanted to meet with an advocate and that no-one had any issues which need their involvement. Another resident however, expresses a choice to go against this ‘blanket approach’ and indicates they would like to meet an advocate. This person is immediately verbally intimidated by one of the resident spokespersons, who question them as to what they want to speak to an advocate about. During the meeting between the person and the advocate, this resident spokesperson interferes in the meeting by entering the meeting area and making an attempt to listen into the conversation. When they are asked to leave, the person again states “X knows she shouldn’t be talking to you!” The next time advocates visit this boarding house at the pre-arranged time, they are told that this person is not at home and therefore unable to meet with them. The resident spokespersons again maintain that the rest of the residents do not want or need advocacy support. Advocates are refused any access to the premises and no other residents are provided the opportunity to express this decision themselves. ADHC have been unable to resolve the issues of access by advocates to this licensed boarding house to date.


  3. Allegations are made by a woman with disability living in a licensed boarding house that she has been a victim of ongoing sexual assault by a co-resident. As a result of the intervention of a local service agency, a training program for a small number of licensed boarding house residents is funded and delivered. This training program aimed to provide licensed boarding house residents with the skills and knowledge to protect themselves from abuse and become more empowered in approaching issues around sex and sexuality.


  4. It is not until a person with disability was relocated from a licensed boarding house and perpetrators of abuse that they disclosed incidents of physical abuse and a culture of threats, intimidation and ‘co-resident monitoring’ which was rewarded by staff when  residents ‘report’ on one another . It is well known that a person’s sense of safety can lead to disclosures of violence and abuse and is an important step for the person regaining their wellbeing. 


  5. A woman with disability living in a licensed boarding house is physically assaulted by a staff member but only reveals this assault sometime after the incident when she is hospitalised for other health reasons and away from the licensed boarding house. Securing the victims safety is a well known factor influencing the capacity of the victim to deal with a disclosure of violence.


  6. Two men with disability are physically assaulted by a staff member who hits them in the face. They are also subject to other kinds of humiliation and abuse including an incident where one is forced to sit on the floor in front of other residents as punishment. The resident states they were so distressed by this treatment that they wet themselves, but were still not allowed to get up from the floor. Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control. In this case study the abuser uses fear, guilt, shame and intimidation which had a real and lasting effect on the victim who when recounting this incident to an advocate some time later, began to shake uncontrollably. It should also be noted that as in situations of family violence where children live in an environment where violence is occurring between adults, the other residents of this licensed residential centre are also at a high risk to experience violence and/or abuse either directly or indirectly. Witnessing or experiencing domestic violence has an extreme negative impact on other parties within the domestic setting that can result in emotional and psychological trauma. These incidents where only revealed by the residents when the boarding house closed and the residents were relocated to alternative supported accommodation. No perpetrator was brought to account as the boarding house had closed.


  7. Residents of a licensed boarding house leave and make their way to another town where they approach the Police. They tell Police they need accommodation because they don’t like being pushed around in the place they currently live in. The Police do not make any referrals for alternative accommodation and do not ask about what it means to be ‘pushed around’. Police call the boarding house and make arrangements for their return.


  8. Serious allegations of abuse including physical assault, verbal intimidation, and restriction of people’s access to the community, misused and over medication of residents are reported to ADHC and NSW Police. When Police visit the premises no-one comes forward to disclose any issues of concern.  It is well known that people affected by domestic and family violence may feel anxious reporting acts of violence and abuse committed by a partner, spouse or family member to police officers and it can take some time for persons subjected to domestic and family violence to break their silence and report incidents. For people with disability who have little knowledge of their rights or positive experience of being treated with respect, an expectation of disclosure without significant support and options for alternative accommodation and support is unrealistic.  Confusion, fear of retribution, or even concern for the repercussions for the person who uses domestic and family violence can further contribute to this hesitation. 


  9. A man with disability suffers verbal and emotional abuse from staff, which undermines his relationship with family members by telling him they are a burden to and hated by their family but the staff at the licensed boarding house love him like he is their family and that he would be on his own if he was ever to leave. Emotional abuse is often considered a covert form of domestic violence and abuse, so insidious that many people aren’t able to recognise they are a victim. The kind of emotional abuse described in this case study is being used to control, degrade and humiliate the person. It is done to try and isolate the person from their key means of support, their family. It is intended to cause the person to doubt themselves and their family’s intentions and make them dependent on the abuser.


  10. A compulsory activity is offered to residents of a licensed boarding house. A resident is told they will be charged a large sum of money to participate in for this activity. The resident states that they do not want to participate in this activity and as a result of making this choice the person is evicted. With assistance from ADHC and advocates this person is relocated to alternative accommodation. 


  11. A licensed boarding house has a culture of resident to resident violence which commonly includes intimidation and standover tactics for cigarettes and money. Physical violence between residents is also commonly fuelled by alcohol abuse or exacerbated by poor mental health.


  12. A woman with disability who lives with her husband in a licensed boarding house is seriously assaulted by him. He is evicted by the licensee as a result. She has no access to domestic violence or support services and she lives in fear of his return.  She has little choice about moving from the boarding house as the licensee controls her finances. She is fearful of retribution from the licensee if she raises any concerns about how her money is managed.


  13. A female resident tells a support worker that a staff member of the boarding house assaulted her. The staff member approached her whilst she was seated at the dining room table with other residents and from behind, lifted her t-shirt up and off over her head, leaving her naked and exposed to everyone present.  She said she was humiliated but that she did not want the support worker to do anything about it because the perpetrator could cause further trouble for her and/or kick her out. This boarding house was her home, and she had no other accommodation options.


  14. “He (another resident) came up to me in the hall way and grabbed me. He tried to kiss and hug me. He wants to be boyfriend and girlfriend but I don’t want to”. 


  15. “He (another resident) comes into my room and stands over me when I am lying in bed”. The woman telling this story has a black eye which she doesn’t explain.


  16. A resident discloses concerns to a disability service provider about one resident physically assaulting other residents. The service provider reports these concerns to ADHC. The boarding house manager hears of this and takes punitive action preventing resident’s access to future planned outings by this service provider. Instead he holds a ‘house meeting’ for residents where he demands to be informed of who had leaked this information.


  17. On a visit to a licensed boarding house last year, a woman resident said to a disability service worker who was visiting residents , ‘I’m ok talking to you, aren’t I? ‘Cause I’m not saying anything about this place, I won’t get into trouble, I’m just talking to you about my family not anything else’. During this conversation the resident appeared to be continually scanning the backyard for who was coming and going, possibly listening, and made this  comment  to the worker when she saw staff come out into the back yard for a cigarette.


  18. The manager of the LRC sat in the background with their arms folded across their chest watching and listening into the conversation of disability support workers with residents. The disability worker reported feeling their presence and intimidation over both themselves and the residents.

It is well documented that people with disability, especially girls and women with disability, are over-represented as victims of crime. In particular, people with disability are more likely to be victims of violence, fraud and sexual assault.

They are also more likely to experience multiple episodes of all forms of abuse and neglect since their potential perpetrators perceive there is little likelihood of police intervention or other sanctions if caught.

PWDA has conducted a number of projects in this area and written several reports that address this situation:

In the News

Further reading and resources

The Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 recognises that domestic violence is a crime. The objects of this Act aim to ensure the safety and protection of all persons who experience or witness domestic violence, the reduction and prevention of violence by one person against another where a domestic relationship exists, and the enactment of provisions consistent with the principles contained inthe Convention on the Elimination of all forms Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

It also clearly states that this Act recognises that domestic violence:

  • in all its forms, is unacceptable behaviour;
  • is predominantly perpetrated by men against women and children;
  • occurs in all sectors of the community;
  • extends beyond physical violence and may involve the exploitation of power imbalances and patterns of abuse over many years;
  • occurs in traditional and non-traditional settings; and
  • is best addressed through a co-ordinated legal and social response of assistance and prevention of violence and, in certain cases, may be the subject of appropriate intervention by the court’.

Section 5 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 explicitly recognises domestic violence can also occur between two persons if the victim:

  • ‘is living or has lived in the same household as the other person’ (Section 5 (d)) (such as co-residents); or
  • ‘is living or has lived as a long-term resident in the same residential facility as the other person and at the same time as the other person’ (Section 5 (e)), (such as co-residents); or
  • ‘has or has had a relationship involving his or her dependence on the ongoing paid or unpaid care of the other person’ (Section 5 (f)), (such as staff of licensed boarding houses).

PWDA participated in the 8th session of the Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) from 9-11 June 2015 in New York. The COSP is a meeting for countries that have ratified the CRPD and gives delegates the opportunity to discuss progress on implementation.

In 2015 the focus was “mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda" and the debate included roundtable sessions on mainstreaming disability in the reduction of poverty and inequality; improvement of disability data and statistics; and addressing the vulnerability and exclusion of persons with disabilities: the situation of women and girls, children’s right to education, disasters and humanitarian crises. For more information please see the UN Enable website.

PWDA was represented by Advocacy Project Manager Samantha French, and she was joined by Gayle Rankin and June Reimer from the First Peoples Disability Network and Rosemary Kayess from the Australian Centre for Disability Law.

Samantha represented the voice of people with disability in Australia at a variety of events and panel discussions including:
• Welcome reception hosted by the Australian Permanent Mission to the UN and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
• Welcome reception hosted by the Korean Permanent Mission to the UN as President Elect of the 8th Session of the COSP.
• Civil Society Global Forum Realising an Inclusive Post-2015 Development Agenda
• Side Event: Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Response
• Disability Counts: Disability, data & the post-2015 development agenda – operationalizing Article 31 from theory to reality
• Leave No One Behind: International Cooperation on Disability in the Post-2015 Era

Links to Daily Reports

Monday 8 June report
Tuesday 9 June report
Wednesday 10 June report
Thursday 11 June report

Links to Official Documents

Links to background documents

Social Media

Tweets on hashtag #COSP8.
You can contact Samantha by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow her on Twitter @samanthapwd

 Watch live or on demand

Visit the UN tv website at webtv.un.org

Watch the Auslan introduction to the 8th COSP below

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Citizens’ Jury Scorecard project was an innovative project led by People with Disability Australia in collaboration with Max Hardy Consulting, and with the support of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) between September 2014 and May 2015. 

The project used deliberative democracy to involve Australian citizens who have helped fund the NDIS and those who have direct knowledge of the scheme as a participant, to evaluate the staged roll out of the NDIS in six trial sites.

A launch of the Citizens’ Jury Scorecard and a short documentary about the project took place at the NDIA’s national office in Geelong on Tuesday 19 May 2015. Members of the public were given the opportunity to watch the event live online and send in questions they wanted to ask a panel of people involved in the Citizens’ Jury process and NDIA representatives. You can watch the launch below.

 Watch the launch below

NDIA response 

The Agency’s initial response to the scorecard’s findings and recommendations has been positive.

You can read the Agency's response by clicking this link. 

Read the Scorecard

The Citizens ’Jury Scorecard presents the findings of the jury including a series of recommendations aimed at enhancing the future roll out of the NDIS. It has been compiled by the twelve member jury, with the assistance of the citizens’ jury facilitators Max Hardy Consulting following the three and a half day ‘trial’ held in Sydney from 17 February – 20 February 2015.

Short film

One of the key aims of the NDIS Citizens’ Jury Scorecard Project was to ensure the ongoing educative value of this unique project and its methodology, to enhance transparency of the processes undertaken as well as to establish a means to broadcast the outcomes of the Citizens’ Jury scorecard verdict.

An experienced small filmmaking consultancy, Think Films was contracted to film the Citizens’ Jury process.  The result, is a film that ‘tells the story’ of the Citizens’ Jury and its interactions with participants of the NDIS, adding deeply personal and qualitative elements  to understanding the process and how the scorecard was finalised by the jurors. Below, or by clicking this link, you can watch the short film documenting the citizens’ jury process.

 

Media highlights and scorecard background

        DVN Logo              pwda     


People with Disability Australia (PWDA) and Domestic Violence NSW Inc. (DVNSW) have collaborated to produce a toolkit designed to enhance the domestic family violence sector's response to violence against women. 

The toolkit is a package of 3 informative and practical documents designed to support a service to become disability inclusive:
Part 1: A Guide for Policy and Practice (5.42MB Word)
Part 2: Creating a Disability Action Plan (2.82MB Word)
Part 3: Practical Recommendations (2.74MB Word)

Download them all as a zip file. (9.93MB)

The Toolkit, launched on International Women's Day, 8 March 2015, will be piloted by domestic and family violence services in NSW with the evaluation informing future recommendations for best practice and increased accessibility.

Background
Australian women with disability are 37.3% more at risk of domestic and family violence. In NSW, over 43% of women experiencing personal violence have disability or a long-term illness, meaning that they experience violence at twice the rate of other women.

Many of the services designed to support women leaving violence are not physically accessible to women with disability, information about domestic and family violence is not always readily available in alternative formats, and attitudes or policies of staff or services may not be disability inclusive.  As a consequence, many women with disability don’t get the assistance that they need and as a consequence remain in situations where their safety is at risk.

Click here to view the media release. 

After a long campaign for action, the Australian Senate passed a motion launching an inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability on 11 February 2015.

The Senate Standing Committee for Community Affairs Inquiry is investigating violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings, including
-the gender and age related dimensions and;
- the particular situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability.

Australian Cross Disability Alliance Response

PWDA worked with other members of the Australian Cross Disability Alliance to prepare a submission for this inquiry and you can download this below.

Submission coordinated by PWDA

Stories from the Inquiry

Calls for a National Inquiry

Australian Government Response

Related Resources

PWDA is leading the Australian Civil Society Delegation to Geneva to participate in the 53rd Session of the Committee Against Torture, the expert body to the UN Convention Against Torture. During this session the Committee will consider the 4th and 5th periodic reports of Australia and make Recommendations and Concluding Observations about Australia’s progress in implementing the Convention Against Torture.

Background

People with disability in Australia are frequently subject to treatment that may constitute torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (ill-treatment), including persistent and severe violence and abuse, forced or coerced non-therapeutic sterilisation, long-term neglect of basic human needs, and painful and degrading behaviour modification techniques or ‘restrictive practices’. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Special Rapporteur on Torture) has expressed concern that, ‘’in many cases such practices, when perpetrated against persons with disabilities, remain invisible or are being justified, and are not recognised as torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.

Breaches of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), including the denial of reasonable accommodation, provide evidence that discrimination has taken place for the purposes of satisfying the requirement to establish torture in Article 1 of CAT; and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in Article 16 of CAT where the physical and or mental pain experienced as a result of that discrimination is not to the degree of ‘severe pain or suffering’.

Australian Delegation

Ngila Bevan, Human Rights Advisor from PWDA is leading the delegation which also includes representatives from:

Australian Delegation Daily Reports

Issues Prior to Reporting (2010)

Opening Statements

Factsheet, Case Studies and Statistics (prepared by Queensland Advocacy Inc)

Factsheets (prepared by Women With Disabilities Australia)

Media and News

Submissions and Reports

Social Media

You can contact Ngila by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or twitter @ngilapwd
Twitter #UNCAT

UN Treaty Body Webcast

You can watch a live webcast of the Committees engagement with Australia

The word Injustice appears on a piece of paper. A pencil erases the IN.What’s wrong with the BSWAT Payment Scheme?

The BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill does not deliver justice for workers in ADEs who have experienced discrimination and/or lost wages as a result of having their wages assessed by the BSWAT.

Will the BSWAT Payment Scheme mean that I will be paid more in the future?

NO! The BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill does not put an end to the use of the BSWAT assessment tool.  People will still be assessed by the BSWAT and will continue to receive sub award wages until the BSWAT system is replaced with a fair alternative.  For example, a person with intellectual disability assessed by the BSWAT who earned $1.86 per hour for the last 5 years may receive a payment under the scheme, but they will continue to earn $1.86 an hour until the BSWAT is abolished.

Will the BSWAT Payment Scheme mean that all people affected by the BSWAT are eligible for a payment?

NO! Only people with intellectual disability will be eligible for the BSWAT Payment Scheme.  There are many people without intellectual disability that have had their wages unfairly assessed using the BSWAT and these people are excluded from the scheme.  For example, a person with a sensory or psychiatric disability may have been unfairly assessed using the BSWAT.  This person may work at the same ADE, doing the same job, and earning the same unfair wage as a worker with intellectual disability. However, the scheme does not recognise that these other people with disability have also been treated wrongly.  It is unfair and discriminatory for people without intellectual disability to be excluded from strategies intended to right the wrongs that the BSWAT created.

Will the BSWAT Payment Scheme pay me all the money I am owed?

NO!  The BSWAT Payment Scheme will only offer an eligible person a proportion of the wages they should have been paid.  They may not receive the full amount.  Moreover, it will not compensate workers for the lost social and economic opportunities they experienced as a result of being paid less than they had earned.  The more money a person has the more life choices they have - choices about the food, clothes and accommodation they can afford; choices about whether to save or spend money; and choices about what they do in their spare time and where they go.  People with disability assessed using the BSWAT have had their life choices reduced because their incomes have been unfairly low. 

Will the BSWAT Payment Scheme provide compensation for the discrimination I experienced because I am a person with disability?

NO! The Payment Scheme will only give money to an eligible person if they give up their legal rights to complain about how they have been treated.  In December 2012 the Federal High Court of Australia said that the BSWAT tool was unlawful because was discriminatory.  People with disability have a right to a remedy for this discrimination, and a right to ask a court to decide how much compensation they should receive for being treated unfairly by the government and their employers.  However, if a person accepts a payment under the scheme, it means that the government does not have to apologise for the discrimination that they have allowed to happen, or to make up for the harm that it has caused.  

Will the BSWAT Payment Scheme mean that my ADE job is secure?

NO! The Payment Scheme Bill is completely separate to how ADEs are funded by the government, or how ADEs operate as businesses.  In April 2014 the Australian Human Rights Commission told the Commonwealth government that they have 1 year to transition from the BSWAT to a fair alternative.  This should mean that workers who have been assessed using the BSWAT will be reassessed and receive higher wages in the future.  ADEs will have to pay these higher wages so that people with disability are paid fairly and have their rights as workers respected.  In order to pay these higher wages they could improve their business practices so that they make more profit, or they could receive more money from the government to help them.  These changes are happening anyway, it will make no difference if people with disability want to have access to a payment scheme or not.

PWDA does not agree that the BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill is a fair system to right the wrongs that the BSWAT has created for many thousands of people with disability.

PWDA advocates that:

  • Use of the BSWAT should end immediately and workers should be reassessed using the Support Wage System (SWS) tool.  This would ensure that employees receive fair wages and would entitle them to the employment protections that all other Australian workers have access to.
  • The Commonwealth government should commit to a date when these SWS assessments will be completed.
  • The Commonwealth government should compensate all workers with disability who were paid unfairly because they were assessed using the BSWAT.
  • Compensation should consider the lost wages, lost opportunities and discrimination experienced by people who were paid unfairly because they were assessed using the BSWAT.

PWDA and the Australian Centre for Disability Law assisted the Australian Human Rights Commission to send a delegation of young people with disability to the 7th Session of the Conference of States Parties (COSP) at the UN in New York from 10-12 June in 2014.

The Australian Human Rights Commission sent seven young Australians
with disability to the United Nations from 10-12 June in 2014

The COSP meeting was for countries that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and gave delegates the chance to discuss progress on implementation. Thematic discussions for this session were: Incorporating the CRPD provisions into the post-2015 development agenda; Youth with disabilities; and National implementation and monitoring. During the 7th session, elections for new members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities were also conducted.

Australian Youth with Disability Delegation

These young Australians formed part of the non-government organisation delegation led by Therese Sands, Co-Chief Executive Director, PWDA and Rosemary Kayess, Chairperson, ACDL. 

  • Ms. Ace Boncato, National Ethnic Disability Alliance
  • Ms. Cashelle Dunn, Women With Disabilities Australia
  • Ms. Lauren Henley, Blind Citizens Australia
  • Ms. Desiree Johnston, Speak Out Tasmania / National Council on Intellectual Disability
  • Ms. Bonnie Millen, People with Disability Australia
  • Mr. Joel Wilson, Autistic Self Advocacy Network of Australia & New Zealand / People with Disabilities Western Australia
  • Mr. Brendan Pearce, Deafness Forum of Australia

IMAGE: Australian Youth Delegation (Left to Right) Brendan Pearce, Desiree Johnston, Joel Wilson, Cashelle Dunn, Lauren Henley, Bonnie Millen and Ace Boncato in front
IMAGE: Australian Youth Delegation (Left to Right) Brendan Pearce, Desiree Johnston, Joel Wilson,
Cashelle Dunn, Lauren Henley, Bonnie Millen and Ace Boncato in front

As well as attending the COSP, the NGO delegation participated in the Civil Society Forum on 9 June and conducted a side-event on 12 June. The side-event, Strengthening Emerging Leaders with Disability – Barriers and Opportunities enabled the NGO delegation to present information and views directly to representatives participating in the UN meetings.

The delegation was supported by funding from an Australian Government grants program and the generous contributions made by Benevolent organisations, disability organisations and individuals.

Social Media

Australian NGO Youth Delegation Daily Reports

Australian NGO Youth Delegation Presentations

Conference of States Parties to the CRPD Documents

Media and News

United Nations WebTV of the Seventh session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 10-12 June 2014

PWDA regularly works with the Department of Social Services (DSS) and other government departments to provide information about Disability Employment Services (DES) and to engage with our members and networks of people with disability to help improve the delivery of these services and increase employment outcomes for people with disability.

In September 2013 the Australian Government provided small grants to a number of national disability peaks organisations, including PWDA, to undertake the DES Consumer Engagement Project. The purpose of the project was to:

  • Increase consumer engagement and knowledge of the DES program;
  • Facilitate provision of consumer advice to the Government about the needs of people with disability in the context of the DES, and;
  • Look at ways to improve future disability employment services. 

The DES Engagement Project provided an opportunity for people with disability to have their say on the types of barriers they face in accessing DES and make suggestions for improvements to the delivery of employment services.

In August 2014 PWDA presented a final report, which included a range of recommendations,to the DSS. You can click here to download PWDA's Disability Employment Services (DES) Consumer Engagement Project report.

In 2015 PWDA continues to work with the DSS as it undertakes a review of the entire disability employment system in Australia and develops a new National Disability Employment Framework.

More information

Information on DES and other Government funded employment programs can be found on the JobAccess website or by calling call JobAccess on 1800 464 800.  

For a full list of publications, fact sheets and information flyers visit the JobAccess website.

To find your local Disability Employment Services provider, visit Australian Job Search website.

NCID logoAn open letter to Senator The Hon Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Dear Minister Fifield,

With respect, you cannot go on national radio (AM, Radio National 7 May 2014) and say to people with intellectual disability and their families that people with significant intellectual disability are unable to work in the open labour market (open employment).

This is factually wrong.

  • Your Department has up to 40 years of research showing that people with intellectual disability (IQ <60) do work in the open labour market with the right support.
  • Your government has for 27 years funded organisations that demonstrate that people with significant intellectual disability with the right support are working in the open labour market; which reduces their reliance and your expenditure on the Disability Support Pension (DSP).
  • Your government funds Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) that pay award based wages using the Supported Wages System; and they are viable.
  • Your government funds ADEs that use the BSWAT (found by the High Court to be discriminatory) to pay wages, yet they make substantial profits and so can afford to pay fair wages by using the SWS.
  • Your Department knows that if an ADE pays a fair wage this will decrease your government’s DSP bill.
  • People with significant intellectual disability and your government can have it all! It is possible to work, be paid fairly, have a part pension, receive support, enjoy social interaction and be employed in open employment or in an ADE. The package does not have to include discrimination.

People with intellectual disability, their families and NCID support welfare reform, a reduction in DSP budget costs, through the right support to get a decent job and a decent wage.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Pattison
Executive Director

Download as a MS Word Document (583kb)

It is well documented that people with disability, especially girls and women with disability, are over-represented as victims of crime. People with disability are more likely to be victims of violence, fraud and sexual assault. They are also more likely to experience multiple episodes of all forms of abuse and neglect.

Latest

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse   

PWDA is one of eleven specialist organisations funded by the Australian Government to provide support to abuse survivors affected by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. PWDA will be supporting people with disability affected by the inquiry.

Click here to visit our Royal Commission Support website

Sexual Assault in Disability and Aged Care (SADA) Project

The SADA Project was developed as a resource for residential disability and aged-care services to address the prevention and response to sexual assault in disability and aged care residential settings. It aims to provide information, tools and contact points for both managers and direct-care workers in these services.

Click here to visit our SADA Project website

Sterilisation of people with disability

Non-therapeutic sterilisation of persons with disability is a particularly egregious form of human rights abuse and one that impacts particularly on girls and women with disability.  Comprehensive law reform is required to provide effective guarantees against such abuse.

Click here to read more about our work around sterilisation of people with disability.

Stop the Violence Project (STVP) 

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is working with Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) and a research team from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to conduct the Stop the Violence Project – violence prevention and response for women and girls with disabilities. 

Click here to go to the STVP website.

Reports

Further Resources and Information

Latest

2015

NSW Premier The Hon. Mike Baird MP announced his new cabinet on 1 April. PWDA look forward to continuing to work closely with members of the government including Minister for Disability Services, The Hon. John Ajaka MLC. PWDA welcomes The Hon. Brad Hazzard MP to the role of Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister for Social Housing, and The Hon. Pru Goward MP as Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Medical Research, Assistant Minister for Health, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. 

PWDA looks forward to collaborating with NSW Government Ministers, including The Hon. Jillian Skinner MP as Minister for Health, The Hon. Adrian Piccoli MP as Minister for Education and The Hon. Troy Grant MP as Deputy Premier and Minister for Justice and Police. PWDA also welcomes The Hon. Gabrielle Upton MP as Attorney General. To read The NSW Government media release on the new cabinet click here

2013

2013 Federal Election Campaign

2011

2010

Further Resources and Information

Education

Telecommunications

Election Platforms and Voting

People with disability are entitled to the full enjoyment of our citizenship rights and responsibilities. One way of expressing our citizenship rights is by voting. 

Click here to read more about our Election Platforms and work around voting

People with disability in Australia have more barriers to a fair go than in almost any other developed country in the world. At the heart of this lies the reality that employment prospects for people with disability are dramatically lower than for other people in Australia.

Disability Employment Services (DES)

PWDA has partnered with the Department of Social Services to provide information to about Disability Employment Services (DES) and to engage with our members and networks of people with disability to help improve the delivery of these services to increase employment outcomes for people with disability.

Click here to read more about the DES Engagement Project 

Real Wages for Real Work

The Real Wages for Real Work campaign seeks to ensure that the rights of over 20,000 workers with disability to the same employment terms and conditions as workers without disability is realised.

Click here to read more about Real Wages for Real Work 

Further Resources and Information

Latest Work

  • October 2015 | People with Disability Australia worked with the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, along with other key stakeholders, on a project that sought to understand the barriers and success factors facing people with disability seeking to transition into housing which better suits their needs and preferences, and the outcomes associated with these moves. Click here to download the report Moving to my home: housing aspirations, transitions and outcomes of people with disability 

Boarding House Reform

People with disability living in licensed and unlicensed boarding houses face numerous human rights violations, largely due to the out-dated legislative, policy and practice frameworks which govern these forms of accommodation.

Click here to read more about our Boarding House Reform work

Shut In

The Shut-In Campaign calls for an end to the segregation, congregation and isolation of people with disability from the community.

Click here to vist the Shut In website

Further Resources and Information

3 Sept 2013 CRPD 10th session - Rosemary Kayess

On behalf of the Australian Civil Society Parallel Report Group Delegation, we would like to thank the distinguished committee members for this opportunity to present this statement.  This morning, my colleague Therese Sands and myself will present this opening statement.

As committee members are aware, Australia is a wealthy country where many of its citizens enjoy their human rights and a high standard of living.  Australia is ranked second on the UNDP Human Development rankings.

However, Australians with disability do not enjoy the same high standard of living, or the same respect for human rights.  For employment participation of people with disability, Australia is ranked 21 out of the 29 member countries of the OECD.  Australia has the highest level of disability poverty in the OECD, with 45% of people with disability in Australia living near or below the poverty line.

These figures do not highlight the extreme poverty and disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities where rates of disability are twice that of the general population.

It is for this reason that we argue that Australia should be held to the highest possible standards with regard to its CRPD obligations. We argue that the bar should be set high for Australia because as a nation we are better placed than many other Member States to meet the needs of people with disability and realise their human rights. 

We acknowledge the positive reforms that have been initiated by Australia since ratification of the CRPD in 2008. In particular we acknowledge the development and the initial launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, known as DisabilityCare Australia. We welcome the focus of this Scheme on providing for people with disability to have control over their own funding so that they can choose the disability supports they need to live more inclusive and participatory lives in the community. There is no doubt that this is one of the most significant social reforms undertaken by Australia in generations.

However, DisabilityCare Australia is only focused on the provision of disability supports.  For people with disability to achieve inclusion and full participation in all areas of life, it is essential that there is a parallel commitment to comprehensive, whole of government legislative and policy reform and implementation.

In this regard, it is critical that a commitment is made by Australia to resource its National Disability Strategy and establish transparent reporting and accountability mechanisms.

It is also critical that Australia incorporates all its human rights obligations, including the CRPD into domestic law.  Current human rights protections are fragmented.  For example the Disability Discrimination Act has significant limitations.  It must be strengthened to address intersectional discrimination; and vilification and disability hate crimes.  It must take the onus off individuals with disability making complaints and often risking having costs awarded against them.   It must address systemic discrimination by allowing representative complaints by DPOs and other interested stakeholders, including the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Without comprehensive, whole of government legislative, policy reform and implementation, human rights violations that are occurring against people with disability in Australia will continue.

We acknowledge that Australia has implemented reform measures to address a number of critical human rights violations; however we hold a number of concerns regarding these measures.  In particular, we draw the attention of the Committee to the following:

  • Australia must withdraw its Interpretative Declaration in relation to article 12; and as a matter of priority undertake a comprehensive audit of Commonwealth, State and Territory laws, policies and administrative arrangements to address the current denial of legal capacity.

The current review into equal recognition before the law only considers Commonwealth laws and legal frameworks, but does not address the State and Territory financial management, substitute decision-making and mental health laws. It is also not clear if the interpretative declaration will be a limiting factor in this review.

  • Australia must establish a nationally consistent legislative and administrative framework that protects people with disability from restrictive practices, including the prohibition of and criminal sanctions for particular behaviour modification practices. 

The current proposal for a National Framework focuses on reducing rather than eliminating restrictive practices; and only focuses on disability services, rather than a comprehensive protection mechanism to cover other areas such as mental health facilities, schools and hospitals.

  • Australia must end the unwarranted use of prisons for the management of unconvicted people with disability, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, by establishing legislative, administrative and support frameworks that comply with the CRPD. 

The current approach by Australia to this issue, is to build Disability Justice Centres and highly restrictive Forensic Disability Services that do not comply with the CRPD.

  • Australia must develop and enact national uniform legislation prohibiting, except where there is a serious threat to life or health, the sterilisation of children, regardless of whether they have disability and adults with disability in the absence of their prior, fully informed and free consent.  

Key recommendations from the recent Senate Inquiry into this issue, if accepted by Australia would still allow for the forced sterilisation of children and adults with disability.

  • Australia must develop and implement a national framework for the closure of all residential institutions accommodating people with disability, including those operated by non-government and private sectors, and allocate and provide the resources necessary for people to move to individualised community based housing and support options.

There are many people with disability still living in institutions in Australia. It is unclear how DisabilityCare Australia will assist people who currently live in institutions to transition into genuine community living arrangements when there is a lack of appropriate, accessible and affordable housing options in the community.  There have been a number of institutional redevelopments and initiatives that replicate and continue institutional living arrangements. 

  • Australia must implement the Supported Wage System as the single national wage assessment tool for people with disability who are unable to work at the productive levels required for workers under industrial agreements.  People with disability must receive equitable and fair remuneration for their work, and receive the supports they need to move from segregated to open employment.

Employees with disability in segregated employment are still being paid wages based on a wage assessment tool that the High Court of Australia found discriminatory. The Australian Government is currently planning to seek an exemption under the Disability Discrimination Act to continue to use this wage assessment tool until alternative, unspecified arrangements can be put into place. This effectively means that people with disability in this position will have to waive their right to equal pay for the duration of the exemption.

There is a comprehensive analysis of these and many other human rights issues in our Parallel Report, Disability Rights Now, which has been provided to Committee members. This report is based on extensive consultations with people with disability and their representative and advocacy organisations throughout Australia. It has been endorsed by over 80 organisations.

These issues have also been summarised in our submission and factsheets for the 9th session, and in our response to the List of Issues for Australia for the 10th session. We encourage distinguished committee members to use these documents during this review, and to meet with us to clarify any issues.

As the Committee may be aware Australia is currently in the lead up to a federal election and the government is in caretaker mode. Whilst this places some restrictions on members of the government delegation from committing to future actions or decisions, it does not mean the Government delegation can avoid an open discussion of actions that have already been taken.

Our civil society delegation urges the Committee to make strong recommendations to Australia in its concluding observations so that the incoming government is held to account for the comprehensive legislative, policy reform and implementation required to end human rights violations.

Our delegation welcomes any questions Committee members may have on this material. 

Thank you very much.

 

PWDA is part of the NGO CRPD Shadow Report Project Group, made up of leading disability and human rights organisations, to provide an NGO perspective on Australia's implementation of the Convention. This Project Group receives significant pro bono support from DLA Phillips Fox and has undertaken consultations throughout Australia with the support of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).

Australian Civil Society Report to the United Nations CRPD - August 2012

This Civil Society Report on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) presents the perspective of people with disability in relation to Australia's compliance with its obligations under this convention. The Report has been compiled from consultations with people with disability and their representative and advocacy organisations, evidence from government and community initiated inquiries and various reports and submissions produced by Civil Society involved in the protection and promotion of human rights for people with disability.

Australian Civil Society Report on the CRPD - Word 3.8 MB

Australian Civil Society Report on the CRPD - Easy English 2.3MB

Watch an Auslan video about the report below

Sessions of the UN Comittee to the CRPD

September 2013 - 10th Session of the Committee
Representatives from the Australian Civil Society Parallel Report Group will attend the 10th Session of the Committee to the CRPD in Geneva, Switzerland, 2-13 September 2013. 
Click here for reports and documents relating to the 10th Session Representation at the United Nations.

April 2013 - 9th Session of the Committee
Representatives from the Australian Civil Society Parallel Report Group will attend the 9th Session of the Committee to the CRPD in Geneva, Switzerland, 15–19 April 2013. 
Click here for reports and documents relating to the 9th Session representation at the United Nations.

NGO CRPD Shadow Report Group Communique

Accommodating Violence: The experience of domestic violence and people with disability living in licensed boarding houses. Word 632kb | PDF 760kb

Click here for details about PWDA's Boarding House Individual Advocacy Project. 

February 2011: Progress for Licensed Boarding Houses in NSW

2010: ADHC releases Licensed Residential Centres Compliance Practice Guide

In 2010 the Youth and Community Services Regulation for all licensed boarding houses accommodating people with disability came into force.  To assist Licensees, Licensed Managers and staff of licensed boarding houses to understand and interpret the new Regulation, the NSW Department of Human Services, Ageing, Disability and Homecare (ADHC) has developed a Licensed Residential Centres Compliance Practice Guide. 

Click here to read this Compliance Practice Guide is on the ADHC’s website PDF

PWDA welcomes the release of this important document as it not only provides guidance for the application of the Youth and Community Services Regulation 2010 to operators of licensed boarding houses but will also greatly assist service providers and others involved in supporting people with disability living in this sector. The need for clarification and interpretation of requirements expected from licensed boarding houses has been a key lobby point for PWDA for some time.

Importantly these Guidelines also clarify the guidelines and practice approach Licensees, Licensed Managers and staff of licensed boarding  houses should use to address issues of abuse, referring them to the ADHC Abuse and Neglect Policy and Procedure; the ADHC Behaviour Support Policy; and Interagency Protocol for responding to Abuse of Older People as a minimum standard of practice around responding to abuse and neglect issues. The lack of policy and practice guidelines for licensed boarding houses around domestic violence, and abuse generally, was a critical issue and key advocacy component of PWDA’s 2009/2010 Disability and Domestic Violence Project and associated report published last year. Clarification that licensed boarding houses should refer and use these existing policies for guidance on preventing and responding to abuse and neglect issues addresses the void in policy in this area for the  first time.

ADHC have also made a commitment to produce this guide in Easy English and formats accessible by people with disability living in licensed boarding houses.

December 2010: Boarding House Referral Options

December 2010: Setting the record straight - evidence of domestic  violence experienced by people with disability living in licensed boarding  houses

On 3 December 2010 the  Minister for Disability Services and Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC)  publically discredited People with Disability Australia’s (PWDA) report on domestic violence in NSW licensed boarding houses, 'Accommodating Violence' for its lack of legitimacy and evidence. In response to this criticism, we would like to set the record straight on two accounts.

Firstly, ADHC Metro South Region were members of the Project Advisory Group guiding the Disability and Domestic Violence Project from the start, and as such had ample opportunity over the 12 months of the project to have input into the project, including voicing any concerns with the methodology used by PWDA in collecting and compiling the data which informed the report.

The ADHC Central Office staff were interviewed for guidance on policy for responding to abuse and neglect in licensed boarding  houses as part of the policy analysis component of the project and they also participated in two disability services workshops held during the project.

At no stage did ADHC raised concerns with PWDA about the quality of the research or project methodology, nor was this feedback provided by ADHC in their comments to the draft report.  Secondly, the Minister’s office and ADHC are now discounting the report, stating it “provides no evidence to back up claims that  domestic violence is a daily lived experience of people with a disability living in licensed boarding houses” (‘Boarding Houses Unsafe’, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 December 2010).

We acknowledge the lens provided by a domestic violence context is new to this residential setting and the domestic relationships which exist within them. It is a lens which had not been considered by most stakeholders involved in this project, including ADHC.  Indeed this was one of the findings of 'Accommodating  Violence' and one of the many barriers to effective prevention and response to violence and abuse in licensed boarding houses. However, it is misleading of the Minister and ADHC to suggest that there is no evidence to back up claims that domestic violence is a daily lived experience of people with a disability living in licensed boarding houses, when issues of violence and abuse of people with disability living in licensed boarding houses is so well known and documented.

PWDA reiterates some of the evidence which was used to inform the report 'AccommodatingViolence: The experience of domestic violence and people with disability in licensed boarding houses'  as well as provide some additional information on this issue: