Living in a group home: hearing, finding and recommending

What has the Disability Royal Commission heard?

The Disability Royal Commission has heard from Autistic people about their experiences of living in a group home for people with disability. It has also heard about barriers to independent living, including poor attitudes and the lack of affordable and accessible housing options.

It has heard from:

  • Maree about her Autistic daughter Jane’s experience of sexual abuse in a group home, the challenges in trying to seek justice for Jane and the impacts the abuse has had on every aspect of her life.
  • Will and Jenny about the experiences of their Autistic son Ben and other residents in a group home. They also shared their ideas on how Supported Independent Living providers could improve their service delivery.
  • an unnamed mother who spoke about the experiences of her Autistic daughter in a group home, the problems with staff casualisation and the difficulties her daughter faced due to “a succession of casual staff” who did not know her.

The Disability Royal Commission has also run several public hearings into particular group homes run by government and private disability service providers (case studies). In these hearings, the Commission heard from the families of several Autistic family members who have resided in these homes. These family members spoke of mistreatment, inadequate complaints mechanisms, failures to instigate investigations, inadequate oversights and protections and overarching failures to protect their family members.

What has the Disability Royal Commission found?

The Disability Royal Commission has identified numerous factors leading to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability living in group homes or other forms of supported accommodation. These factors include:

  • a lack of choice and control about where and with whom people live.
  • a lack of choice and control over service providers.
  • inadequate oversight and safety protocols.
  • poorly qualified and inexperienced support workers.

It is investigating these factors further, and how people in group homes, and other forms of supported accommodation, may be better supported and protected in the future.

Among some of the specific government and private disability service providers investigated so far (through its public hearings), the Commission has identified several failures to protect residents from harm. It has found that these failures are not limited to the homes investigated but are representative of systemic issues across accommodation service providers. The Commission has made recommendations for some of these failures to be addressed and has identified areas for further investigation in relation to others.

It has also found that the policies and practices of accommodation service providers can have significant effects on the physical and psychological wellbeing of people with disability.

What has the Disability Royal Commission recommended?

We will update this page when the Disability Royal Commission makes recommendations to improve the experience of Autistic people living in group homes or other forms of supported accommodation.

For more information, please see Disability Royal Commission’s  Interim ReportPublic Hearing Report 3 – The experience of living in a group home for people with disability, Public Hearing Report 13 – Preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in disability services (a Case Study), Public Hearing Report 14 – Preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in disability services (South Australia) and Public Hearing Report 20 – Preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in disability services (two case studies)

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