By Andrea Viney
The dark side of the NDIS has been revealed in a shocking new report from the complaints watchdog. The report brought to light thousands of serious incidents of sexual misconduct, abuse, neglect and injury that have occurred inside supported disability accommodation over the past four years.
Examining the running of disability group homes in Australia by seven different providers, the report revealed a staggering 7340 reportable incidents between July 2018 and September 2022.
With less than 20,000 people living with disability currently living in a group accommodation setting, this high number of serious incidents is extremely distressing.
Of the incidents reported in the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission’s report, there were 122 sexual misconduct incidents towards an NDIS participant in a group home. Examples of incidents included a person with a disability being exposed to pornography by a support worker, emotional and psychological abuse of a person with disability through coercion or undue influence, and the alleged sexual assault of a person with a disability by a support worker or another person with a disability .
There was also a staggering 960 reportable incidents of unlawful physical contact, 1700 reports of serious injury, 1700 reports of abuse and 1300 reportable incidents of neglect of a person with a disability in group accommodation.
NDIS Minister, Bill Shorten, admitted that these numbers were harrowing and that more needed to be done to protect people, especially as many who live in supported accommodation have profound intellectual or physical disabilities.
“We seem to be learning the same lessons that we should have already learned,” he told the ABC.
“We’ve got to be much better at communicating directly with people with disability in supported accommodation, otherwise they’re vulnerable
“We’ve got to do much better at educating the individuals in the homes, about their rights, and making sure that we check in on them.
“It’s important to make sure that they’re not getting ignored by the systems, and obligations to make sure that they’re safe.”
The report also found that people living in group homes, lacked control and choice over their NDIS funding, highlighting the need for support of people with a disability in understanding their rights and options and having control over their care.
An urgent need for changes to regulations in group accommodation settings and further consultation and support of people with a disability living in group homes, was the final recommendation of the report, one which Bill Shorten supports.
The NDIS Commission will work to implement these changes through a detailed consultation process and inquiry into the report findings.