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Coroner condemns Dickensian state of licensed boarding houses - Media Release PWD



MEDIA RELEASE  11 May 2012                                                


People with Disability Australia (PWDA) has today called for the NSW Government to step up their obligation to recognise, protect and fulfil the human rights of people with disability living in the licensed boarding house sector following yet another damning account of the state of this sector revealed by Magistrate Jerram, State Coroner, following the inquest into the deaths of six people with disability living in a licensed boarding house at 300 Livingstone Road, Marrickville.


Today’s conclusion of the Coronial Inquiry once again raises serious questions about the competence of NSW Department of Family & Community Services - Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) to fulfil its legislative responsibility to monitor licenced boarding houses accommodating people with disability. They also illustrate little evidence of a co-ordinated approach between doctors, outside services and staff of the licensed boarding house which benefit the care and protection of residents. Instead a picture has emerged of a regime which resulted in poor health care practice, diagnosis, record keeping and situations where medication compliance was dangerously ill-supervised. The Coroner concluded that conditions experienced by these residents hastened their deaths.


“The licensed boarding house sector is clearly broken and beyond repair. Action must be taken to end this form of accommodation for people with disability”, says Jan Daisley, President of PWDA.  “It is time for the NSW Government to show leadership in ensuring human rights standards are afforded to all people with disability regardless of where they live. It must begin by closing all licensed boarding houses and ending all forms of accommodation that isolate, segregate and fail to meet the most basic needs of people with disability”.


PWDA applauds the Coroner’s recommendations for the introduction of a regulatory body separate to ADHC which would be enacted with powers to monitor, prosecute and arbitrate disputes between boarding house operators and residents, as well as the call for mandatory reporting of all suspected or identified breaches of legislation governing boarding house compliance.


The Coroner acknowledged yesterday’s announcement by the NSW Government of proposed changes to boarding house regulations, including stiffer penalties for non-compliance with regulations, a requirement for all staff be subjected to periodic criminal record checks and the introduction of occupancy rights.


PWDA also welcomes this recent commitment to reform however, we also strongly believe that people with disability in need of housing and support should receive it as a matter of right, and that this right is compromised where the support or housing is paid for from the pensions of low-income people with disability and delivered by private, for-profit landlords operating on an institutional model. This was supported by the Coroners conclusions which noted that the Proprietors of 300 Hostel ‘were making a living from the boarding house, and while undoubtedly hampered by lack of resources, appeared to have reduced services to residents to perhaps cut costs and to have provided, at least in the last years, very little supervision or basic care to those most in need of it”.


“The new measures proposed by the Minister yesterday should be applied in conjunction with a planned approach to the closure of all licensed boarding houses. As these boarding houses close, people with disability should be supported to relocate into individualised services and supports’ says Ms Daisley. “After today’s appalling account of the pervasive individual and systemic neglect evident in this sector, this planned closure cannot happen soon enough”.




PWDA Media Contact:


Daphnee Cook

Communications and Membership Development Manager

People with Disability Australia Incorporated


Phone: 02 9370 3100      Toll Free: 1800 422 015



People with Disability Australia Incorporated (PWD) is a national disability rights and advocacy organisation. Our primary membership is made up of people with disability and organisations mainly constituted by people with disability.  We have a cross-disability focus - we represent the interests of people with all kinds of disability.  PWD is a non-profit, non-government organisation.

Our vision is of a socially just, accessible and inclusive community, in which the human rights, citizenship, contribution, potential and diversity of all people with disability are respected and celebrated.  This vision underpins everything that we do.


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