SHUT IN Campaign to Close Institutions

3 December 2011  International Day of People with Disability


International Day of People with Disability 2011

Campaign Message

The Shut-In Campaign has a very simple, yet critical human rights message – people with disability have a right to live and be included in the community.  This is a right enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). 

One of the most pervasive human rights abuses experienced by people with disability is their segregation and isolation from the community in congregate care facilities. Article 19 of CRPD, the right to live independently and be included in the community is derived from traditional rights to liberty, security and freedom of movement.  Accommodating people with disability in institutional accommodation is a clear breach of these fundamental human rights. 

Shut-In draws attention to the fact that there are still people with disability living in institutional accommodation in Australia today. Governments continue to fund this form of accommodation, and in some cases have rebuilt institutional accommodation for people with disability. . On International Day 2011, we must continue to be outraged that this is the case and urge governments to take action against this human rights abuse. 

Shut In calls on governments to take immediate action to close 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 that will support their inclusion and participation in the general community.


Vodcast Launch

The Shut In Campaign has today launched a new, powerful Vodcast, which shows an interview with Mr John Le Breton, CEO Greystanes Disability Services discussing why he is opposed to institutional living and the redevelopment of institutions.  John speaks from his experience of closing institutions and supporting people with disability to live in the community.

This Vodcast can be viewed here:

This new Vodcast joins our three previous Vodcasts produced at the end of 2010 for the Shut In Campaign. You can see the rest of the Vodcasts on the link above or by visiting

The Vodcasts provide the views of people with disability, parents and service providers about their reasons for opposing institutions.  They raise awareness of the fact that people with disability are still living in institutions in Australia and aim to encourage policy makers, parents, carers, politicians and the community to support actions to close institutions and develop housing and supports which enable people with disability to live in the community in the same way as everyone else.


Position Statement on Housing and Support

On 2 August 2011, the Shut In Campaign released its Position Statement on Housing and Support for People with Disability, which is based on the rights contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). 

The Statement outlines that people with disability should be able to live in the community with housing options equal to others and that these options must support the inclusion and participation of people with disability in community life. 

The Statement aims to inform governments of their responsibilities under CRPD as it relates to housing.  This includes an end to segregated accommodation and congregate care facilities that deny people with disability the same housing options as other people and forces people with disability to live together in order to receive social supports.

The Shut In Campaign urges all levels of government to work in partnership with people with disability, their families and their representative organisations to develop housing and support policy frameworks that ensure that resources, programs and funding allocations, including individualised funding are only provided to implement the rights contained in CRPD.

The Position Statement can be accessed on


Endorse the Campaign

The Shut In Campaign is seeking endorsements to strengthen our voice to governments and policy makers that the human rights of people with disability must be promoted, protected and fulfilled.

If you have received this bulletin, chances are you have already personally endorsed the campaign or are part of an organisation who has endorsed the campaign. If this is not the case, please contact Shut In and let us know you share our values!

Endorsing is easy - It only takes a second, and every endorsement counts.
To Endorse the Campaign, write an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Your Name
  • Your Organisation/Business (Optional)
  • Your Email Address
  • Your Postcode
  • A message of support (Optional)

Both individuals and organisations can endorse the campaign. Endorsements will be published on the Shut In website, as well as used to support publications or position statements prepared by the Shut In Campaign.

If you have endorsed the campaign, the next thing to do is forward this bulletin on to your friends and contacts, with a personal message encouraging them to provide their own endorsement.


Messages from Shut-In Supporters

“Just wanted to write and say I am very happy to endorse this protest against the systemic abuse of people with disability in Australia. I have worked across many systems within the disability sector and I have family members with disability. For government to advocate for a system of abuse that does not enhance quality of life for people with disability is inhumane and causes many people with disability greater hardship by denying access and inclusion in community is abhorrent. I am happy to stand with you and your supporters to say enough, stop this now. I encourage you to continue with your fight against systemic abuse of people with disability.” – Peter

“I am appalled that institutions still exist. There should be no need for this campaign. The basic human right, to live in a place we choose, has been overlooked for people who need a very high level of care and have little chance of contributing financially to the nation/community. We all need to live in the community to avoid the indignity of being treated as a second class citizen or as someone who is unworthy of a life.” – Chris

“I whole-heartedly endorse the campaign for the closure of all institutions for people with a disability. As the mother of a severely physically disabled young man who now shares a house in the community, I have witnessed the growth in self- esteem and the new-found quality of life that is possible. I believe that any so-called "justification" of institutions by governments is, in fact, an effort to justify the gross inadequacy of funding to the disability sector.” – Thea

“I think it is both disgraceful and inhuman that in this day and age people with a disability are still being placed in institutional care and hence are being deprived of the many rights and freedoms that we take for granted as Australian citizens.” – John

To read more messages, please visit the Shut In website and click on the link “Messages from Supporters”.


Institution Watch

New South Wales

On 3 December last year, the former Labor NSW Government announced actions for the next five years of Stronger Together, which is the NSW Government’s ten year disability policy. Included in this announcement was a commitment to fund the closure of all large residential centres by 2017/18.

While this announcement was very welcome, it was the third promise made by a NSW Government to close institutions since 1998.  In addition, the announcement did not include the closure of the institutions that have already been redeveloped in NSW since 2006.  These institutions are considered ‘closed’ and now part of the ‘supported accommodation’ options for people with disability in NSW. 

A new Liberal Coalition Government was elected in March 2011 and although it supports the commitments made in Stronger Together 2, it also appears to support the view that some institutions have ‘closed’ and that redeveloped institutions are appropriate ‘supported accommodation’ options. 

This view means that people with disability in NSW will continue to live in these redeveloped institutions and more people will be placed in them as spaces become available.  It also means that redeveloped institutions are now viewed as appropriate models for the development of other ‘supported accommodation’ facilities for people with disability. Shut In NSW is pushing for the NSW Government to eradicate this outmoded form of accommodation and to provide self-directed funding and supports to enable people with disability to have genuine community living options that comply with the NSW Disability Services Act and the CRPD.

Legal advocacy People with Disability Australia (PWD) continues to focus our legal advocacy on the process within the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) of formally seeking a review of the NSW Minister’s decision to continue to operate accommodation facilities that contravene the Disability Services Act 1993 (NSW).

During 2011, the situation became more complex as redevelopment of the three large institutions – Peat Island, Grosvenor and the Lachlan Centre – was completed and residents were moved into new facilities.  This meant that we needed to shift attention to the funding of these new institutions.  PWD lodged subsequent appeals in the ADT against the NSW Minister for funding the non-conforming redeveloped institutions named Summer Hill Group Homes (Grosvenor Centre), Norton Road Specialist Living Centre (Lachlan Centre), Casuarina Grove and Wadalba Group Homes (together the Peat Island Centre).

Following an adverse decision by the ADT appeals panel regarding the jurisdiction of the ADT to hear our complaint, PWD lodged an appeal with the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal in November 2010. This appeal hearing occurred in July 2011. Supreme Court judges Allsop, Beazley and Handley unanimously ruled in PWD’s favour. In their decision they allowed PWD’s appeal, set aside the orders made by the ADT’s Appeal Panel and the Minister has been required to pay our costs for the appeal. The decision was also highly critical of the conduct of the Minister’s counsel in these proceedings.

Further, PWD has laid on its expert and lay evidence for the ADT appeal hearings.

PWD is seeking the closure of the centres known as Casuarina Grove, Norton Road Specialist Supported Living, Wadalba Group Homes and Summer Hill Group Homes.  PWD is advocating for these closures to occur in a carefully planned and staged process following individual assessments and relocation to community based housing and supports that conform with the objectives and principles of the NSW Disability Services Act and the CRPD.

CRPD Complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission Given our concerns about redeveloped institutions in NSW, PWD has recently taken the step of pursuing a complaint under the CRPD.  Before a CRPD complaint can be made to the United Nations CRPD Committee, all domestic remedies must be exhausted.  This means we have needed to first lodge a complaint with the Australia Human Rights Commission (AHRC).

CRPD complaints to the AHRC must be made against the Commonwealth.  In summary, our CRPD complaint alleges that the Commonwealth has breached CRPD articles 5, 14, 19 and 28 with regard to the funding of NSW to provide residential facilities to people with disability by:

  • not ensuring that this funding achieves the objectives of the National Disability Agreement;
  • failing to exercise powers under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to develop accommodation standards; and
  • failing to establish the National Disability Strategy as a means to ensure that the CRPD is incorporated into State and Territory policy and programs.

PWD is now awaiting a response from the Commonwealth, but we have conveyed our view that we would like this to be an opportunity to work towards action by the Commonwealth that demonstrates leadership in the area of community living for people with disability in Australia.



With the change in Government late last year, we are still waiting to see which direction they might wish to take in relation to the two remaining large-scale institutions, Colanda and Sandhurst.

For some excellent background info on these institutions, please read the story which appeared on ABC News Online on 15 August 2011 Victoria's remaining institutions: where to from here?

There were no funds allocated in the recent state budget to make any real inroads. The new Minister, Mary Wooldridge, has initiated a consultation to gather feedback and ideas from people with disabilities and families, which we assume will guide their planning for new service options. The sector will soon be engaged in developing a new State Plan for Disability Services, so hopefully there will be the opportunity for the approximately 150 residents remaining in these places to move into more appropriate, community-based homes.

In the meantime, opportunities are continually being sought and provided for institutional residents, particularly from Sandhurst, to pursue more individualised options. VALID and Reinforce are involved at a range of levels in supporting people to explore their options and to become stronger in advocating for their own rights and interests, so that they will no longer have to put up with being SHUT IN.

Kevin Stone, Executive Officer The Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability (VALID)


South Australia

The South Australian Department of Families and Communities finally released its long-awaited major report on the Strathmont Centre Redevelopment and Community Living Project in May 2011. The Strathmont Centre is one of the last remaining large institutions for people with intellectual disabilities in South Australia, and has been gradually moving towards complete devolution since 2005.

For more information on Strathmont, read The Strathmont Centre, Adelaide's crying shame, from the Adelaide Sunday Mail, 27 March 2011.

In the summary report, the Department highlights that for residents, “The move from the Strathmont Centre into the community has been associated with many lifestyle improvements. This has included increased family contact, more privacy, a more home-like and less institutionalised living environment, an increase in perceived life satisfaction and many improvements in residents’ health. The report also highlights an 80% reduction in “behaviours of concern”, which includes physical self-injury and injury to others.”

The Report also stated that “Families were generally positive about the community living project, with nearly all reporting that they were satisfied with their family members’ current standard of accommodation and the quality of services provided. This represents a significant shift in perception from the start of the project, when many families were uncertain or anxious about the move.”

To see the full report, please click here.



Advocacy around Jacana Hostel With the help of Brisbane advocacy group Speaking Up For You (SUFY) and the NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, a number of residents at the Jacana Hostel in Brisbane North have launched anti-discrimination complaints against the Commonwealth Government. 

Jacana is a Queensland Health facility for the rehabilitation of people with acquired brain injuries, in which some residents have lived for more than 15 years. The Commonwealth provides the funding for the centre via Queensland Health, the Queensland Department of Housing, and Disability Services. 

The complainants allege they have been unfairly treated in this situation, as they are ineligible for Disability Support Packages because they have no housing and they are ineligible for Queensland housing because they have no Disability Support Packages. The complaint has been taken to the Australian Human Rights Commission for consideration.

Wasted Lives Campaign Queensland Advocacy (QAI)’s Wasted Lives campaign commenced in late 2009 in an effort to raise community awareness and influence the agenda of government to stop the planned trans-institutionalisation of a group of residents living in an institution/health facility in Toowoomba, as well as to raise systemic issues about the lives of people with a disability living in health facilities across Queensland. 

This group of people (approximately 35) who have a single diagnosis of intellectual disability have been institutionalised, some for over 45 years, stripped of their relationships with their family and any connection to community they may once have had. This was of great concern to QAI as the potential for these people to move to community living would be lost and they would be placed with people with a mental illness or psychiatric disability returning to policies predating the 1960s.

On 15 October 2010, QAI held a half day Wasted Lives Forum opened by the Minister for Disability Services and Multicultural Affairs, Hon Annastacia Palasczcuk to raise awareness about institutional living and to provide a means for individuals and families to share their stories of creating a better life and highlight the benefits of being properly supported using person centred approaches.  At this event the Minister Palasczcuk made a commitment to continue to finalise the institutional reform process commenced in the 1990’s.  At this event the Minister spoke from her heart and is clearly committed to exploring the options of people living in the community.

QAI continues to have very positive community support for this Campaign.  QAI is currently working with our allies to think through the strategic issues and deliver the best outcomes for these most vulnerable Queenslanders.  QAI has been advised that some “residents” are having positive experiences with limited community access outings.

For further information about the Wasted Lives campaign click here.


Housing Choice and the CRPD

Given the direction toward choice and individualised funding options that arise from the recommendations from the Productivity Commission Report into lifetime care and support for people with disability and the development of a National Disability Insurance Scheme, it is important that “choice” is understood from a human rights perspective.

On 10 and 11 May 2011, over 260 people gathered in Sydney for the In Control BiG Event, which was presented by the NSW Chapter of In Control Australia.  The theme of the BiG Event was Self-directed Support: Making it Happen.  A key session at this event addressed the “Limits of Choice” in the area of accommodation and support for people with disability.  The session highlighted that there has been nothing formally written to date that prohibits the development of congregate care accommodation under individualised funding, despite the evidence available as to its deleterious effects upon people living in institutions and Australia’s obligation under CRPD that such facilities are a breach of human rights.

A view about limiting choice in this area was put forward by Professor Chris Bigby from La Trobe University in an online article, Limits to Choice for Consumers with Disabilities published on18 April 2011.  This article can be read at

Professor Bigby also raised this issue in another article, Let’s wise up on housing options for people with intellectual disability, published on 3 August 2011.  This article discussed issues around choice, inclusion, deinstitutionalisation and housing and support options for people with intellectual disability.  It appeared in The Conversation and ABC’s Ramp Up website and coincided with a forum on housing and support options in which Professor Bigby spoke about her views and the rationale behind them.

PWD has articulated its views in this regard in our position paper Accommodating Human Rights: a human rights perspective on housing and support for persons with disability.  This position clearly articulates the rights outlined in Article 19 of the CRPD, the right to live independently and be included in the community:

  • Article 19 guarantees the rights to liberty, security and freedom of movement of people with disability by requiring housing and support services to be structured and provided in ways that enable independence, autonomy, participation and inclusion in the community.
  • As a civil and political right, Article 19 must be complied with immediately – governments cannot transition or progress towards ensuring people with disability live and participate in community life; they must take immediate action to remedy and prevent the segregation, isolation and congregation of people with disability.
  • ‘Choice’ and ‘personal autonomy’ are often seen to override all other human rights values, so there is often a misunderstanding that if a person with disability or their family chooses a congregate care or institutional environment than this is their right.
  • However, human dignity is the ultimate source of all human rights, and the end goal of all human rights.  People with disability, their families as well as governments have a fundamental responsibility to act in ways that respect, protect and fulfil human dignity.
  • CRPD makes it clear that segregated, institutional models of housing and support is offensive to human dignity.  Governments are under a clear obligation to protect and preserve human dignity and must ensure that housing options achieve human dignity.
  • This means that ‘choices’ related to accommodation options or housing and support for people with disability must be made within a human rights framework, a framework that respects, protects and fulfils human dignity, and that prohibits institutional accommodation.


Shut-In Goes Global

Disabled Peoples International (DPI) 8th World Assembly, Durban South Africa October 2011

At the recent World Assembly of Disabled People’s International (DPI), the Australian delegates made a number of successful presentations focused on implementation and monitoring in Australia of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This included a presentation by Jan Daisley, President of PWD, Peter Cassar, Secretary of PWD and Sam French, PWD’s Systemic Advocacy Projects Manager, on ‘Accommodating Human Rights – CRPD and Living in the Community’. 

This presentation provided an overview of advocacy strategies being used in Australia to promote awareness of the rights of people with disability to housing and supports that allow for community living.  It outlined how the CRPD practically applies to the action being taken through the ‘Shut-In Campaign’ and the responsibilities of governments to fulfil Articles 19 and Article 28 of the CRPD.  The presentation highlighted how a number of disability representative and advocacy organisations across Australia are working together to raise awareness about our rights and to challenge governments to recognise CRPD as the basis for legislative reform, policy development and practice in the area of community living.

This was also an opportunity to present the Shut In Position Statement on Housing and Support for People with Disability.   This Statement develops a shared understanding of what is meant by ‘institutional accommodation’ and what is required by CRPD.  It aims to build support for the Campaign from the disability community both nationally and internationally through forums such as DPI.

Following the presentation there was lively discussion on the importance of representative organisations of people with disability and governments having a shared understanding of what constitutes ‘institutional accommodation’ and what practical steps are required to ensure housing and support for people with disability enables genuine community inclusion.

There was general support from participants for the Shut-In Campaign, with many requesting further information and showing interest to develop similar campaigns in their own countries. A key recommendation from participants was that DPI World Council formally endorse the Position Statement on Housing and Support.

The Shut In Campaign has already received international endorsements from representative organisations of people with disability, universities and governments as a direct result of attendance at this Assembly.


International News

Inclusion International’s Global Study on CRPD Article 19 Inclusion International is inviting self-advocates, families and organisations all over the world to contribute to their Global Report on living independently and being included in the community to be released in October 2012.

The campaign on Article 19 is an opportunity for Inclusion International, through their member organisations, friends and allies, to discover what living independently and being included in the community really means. This includes what implementation of Article 19 looks like around the world in different people's lives and what needs to be done to make living independently and being included in the community a reality for everyone.

Inclusion International want to hear about your stories and experiences of living independently and being included in the community! To discover how click here

Historic Victory against Segregation in Serbia In July 2011, the Mental Disability Rights Initiative Serbia (MDRI-S) succeeded in pressuring the European Union to back down from funding the reconstruction of six institutions for people with disabilities in Serbia.

The €5.1 million ($7.3 million USD) project has now been redrafted to support the creation of community services that allow children and adults to leave institutions and live in the community with choices equal to others.

For the first time ever, disability rights activists have organised to demand that the European Union enforce their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and succeeded. 

To read the full story, click here to visit Disability Rights International website.


Special Report: Licensed Boarding Houses

People with Disability Australia (PWD) has been advocating for boarding house reform for many years and more recently we have been specifically seeking action to address serious human rights violations at Grand Western Lodge.

PWD is pleased to announce that in August 2011, 43 of the residents at Grand Western Lodge were removed and relocated to safer accommodation. PWD is now continuing its work with residents until they are all relocated into appropriate permanent accommodation that suits their wishes and needs.

PWD’s advocacy work around Grand Western Lodge contributed to the public release of the NSW Ombudsman’s special report - More than board and lodging: the need for boarding house reform. Click here to learn more about this report and its findings and recommendations.

Over the course of PWD’s advocacy around Grand Western Lodge, PWD also worked closely with Fairfax journalist Adele Horin to make the rights abuses taking place in the lodge public.

To read up on PWD’s advocacy around Grand Western Lodge and access the stories which appeared in the media on the issue, please visit


NSW Ombudsman’s special report - More than board and lodging: the need for boarding house reform

The NSW Ombudsman’s special report to Parliament, More than board and lodging: the need for boarding house reform, released on 17 August, draws on work by the Ombudsman since 2002, which has identified serious concerns about the safety, health, welfare and rights of the residents of licensed boarding houses and the adequacy of the system that is meant to protect them. In his report, the Ombudsman highlights how he has “repeatedly found critical failings on the part of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) to fulfil its responsibilities to monitor licensed boarding houses and ensure their compliance with requirements.”

The report also identifies how ''It is of particular concern that many issues we have identified in our most recent investigation and review work are consistent with those we initially identified nine years ago,” and that “The current legislation governing licensed boarding houses and the standards expected in such facilities are inadequate to protect already vulnerable residents from harm and violations of their fundamental human rights.”

This report is a further timely reminder of the need for the NSW Government to learn from this documented experience and expedite the much needed reform of the licensed boarding house sector. 

The report is available on the Ombudsman’s website or can be read via this link: More than board and lodging: the need for boarding house reform.


What is Shut In?

Shut In is the national campaign to raise awareness about people with disability in institutions, take action to close institutions and to advocate for housing and supports that enable people with disability to live in the community in the same way as everyone else.

Shut In is a human rights campaign that is underpinned by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The campaign website brings together information and resources, personal stories from people who have lived in institutions, State and Territory reports on advocacy actions and events and information about how to get involved in supporting the campaign.

For more detailed information on the campaign and the organisations involved, visit the Shut In website at



The Shut In website contains a wealth of resources, toolkits, fact sheets and other sorts of information for you to learn more about the reasons why this campaign is absolutely necessary:

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Contact us

Shut In Campaign Committee

Council of Social Service of NSW Disability Enterprises Family Advocacy Intellectual Disability Rights Service National Council for Intellectual Disability NSW Council for Intellectual Disability NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre People with Disability Australia Queensland Advocacy Incorporated Reinforce Self Advocacy Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability

If you would like to receive regular updates on the Shut In Campaign, or learn more about how you can help, please contact us by email or by one of the means below:

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Phone: (02) 9370 3100 Twitter: @ShutInAustralia YouTube Channel: ShutInAustralia
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