We have the right to live independently in our communities
In June this year, PWDA made a submission to the Disability Royal Commission, “Realising Our Right to Live Independently in the Community”. The submission highlighted the role of group homes, and other congregate living situations like boarding houses, in perpetuating violence and abuse committed against people with disability.
The NDIS was first announced in 2013, and was supposed to give people with disability freedom of choice when it came to our living situations and service providers. It’s been seven years and, and many people with disability still have service providers who provide both accommodation and essential supports and services. This makes it hard for many people with disability to have choices about their supports, particularly when they want to change.
Accessible accommodation where people with disability can be supported to live independently in the community is still very difficult to come by, with long waiting lists, and people with disability are heavily over represented amongst Australia’s homeless population. Fear of homelessness, a lack of acceptable alternative options and a lack of access to (or knowledge of) advocacy, can mean that people with disability are forced to remain in accommodation where they are being abused, whether by staff or by other residents.
Australia is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), that says that people with disability have a right to adequate housing and to choose where and with whom we live. Australia is currently failing to meet this obligation.
At PWDA we firmly believe that:
- group homes must be phased out;
- people with disability are entitled to have access to suitable housing options in the community, with appropriate supports;
- a clear, robust and properly resourced plan to transition away from group homes needs to be developed and implemented as a matter of urgency.
A full list of our recommendations can be found in the submission here.
You can also read the submission our colleagues at Women with Disabilities Australia have made about these issues.