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ACT in Focus by Jo Huxley, April 2024

A fresh Disability Strategy and First Action Plan are positive steps for the ACT in this transformational time for providers.
News update
News update

New book tells government how best to support people with developmental disability

The book, in easy-read format from Developmental Disability WA, tells the state and federal governments where more funding should go.

Public Advocate report points to the human cost of neglect

Close up of two people holding hands in a show of support


A report by the Victorian Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) reveals a distressing situation for some adults with disability and mental health issues living in specialist accommodation. The Annual Report on the Community Visitors Program was presented in Victorian Parliament last month and showed the grave consequences of staffing shortages, limited services and inadequate choice.  

Summarising the findings from almost 3800 visits to 1270 accommodation facilities by Community Visitors and trainees, the report found heightened risks of violence, abuse and neglect for some Victorians with disability and mental health issues. Visiting disability group homes, Supported Residential Services (SRS) and inpatient mental health facilities, the volunteers noted the adverse effects of congregating and segregating people with disability and mental health issues.  

Among the other causes of the poor results were the continuing shortage of accessible and affordable housing and the difficulty in finding high-quality funded support. 

“Too many people experience ongoing abuse and neglect, with few alternative accommodation or mental health facilities available,” says Victorian Public Advocate Dr Colleen Pearce. 

The Community Visitor's Report also highlighted good practice by staff that led to residents building skills and making their own choices in their day-to-day life. Good practice, however, was getting harder to achieve under the sector’s widespread staffing shortages.  

Dr Pearce notes: “On the positive side, I would say: There are many promising changes on the horizon. There are also legislative changes in mental health and disability, and a new Social Services Regulator. We look forward to the government's responding to the Disability Royal Commission’s final report and the recent NDIS Review. We must hold them to account.”  

The report makes 24 recommendations for reform. It calls for a legislative, policy or operational framework to make sure landlords maintain accommodation to the standards promised under their SDA or residential rental agreements. There should be more funding for staff training, and stronger powers for Community Visitors to get vital information. 

NDS meets regularly with the OPA. We recognise the critical role of Community Visitors in safeguarding Victorians with disability and mental health issues.  

Contact information
Paul Bourke, Policy & Project Officer, 03 8341 4317, submit enquiry/feedback