Royal Commission to examine experiences of abuse, neglect and violence at Life Without Barriers homes

The twentieth public hearing of the Disability Royal Commission will examine the roles and responsibilities of Life Without Barriers, a disability service provider, in preventing and responding to violence against and abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability who receive its services.

Commencing on Tuesday December 7, this hearing will focus on the experiences of several people with disability who received services from Life Without Barriers in supported accommodation. The hearing will examine events in two homes, one in Melbourne, Victoria and the other on the Far North Coast of New South Wales.

Evidence will also be presented from the Acting NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner via video-link, in relation to how the NDISQSC responded to information it received about the two homes.

Counsel Assisting will present evidence concerning the sexual assault of one woman with disability who lived in the New South Wales home. Counsel Assisting will also present evidence about the alleged misconduct by a support worker toward a second female resident in the same home.

In connection to this case study, the hearing will examine:

  • the quality of care that has been provided to residents of the home;
  • the support that LWB provided before and after the sexual assault (which took place outside the home);
  • the role and responsibility of service providers to support people with disability living in supported accommodation to develop close personal relationships, including sexual relationships; and
  • LWB’s policies and practices relating to the prevention, response and recording of allegations of sexual abuse, misconduct and neglect.

The second case study will focus on the experiences of people who lived at a house in Melbourne where conflict and violence between residents occurred over several years.

In connection to this case study, the hearing will examine:

  • how LWB responded to the violence experienced by residents and their reaction to concerns expressed by community visitors and families;
  • how NDIS funding for the residents’ services affected their vulnerability to violence and abuse;
  • whether residents were able to exercise choice and control over where they lived and who they lived with; and
  • the quality of care that was provided to residents.

The Royal Commission will receive evidence from the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing about its responsibilities for the Melbourne house and its residents.

Evidence will also be given by two community visitors from the Office of the Public Advocate about their observations and concerns when visiting the house over eight years.

The Chair of the Royal Commission, the Hon. Ronald Sackville AO QC, will preside at the hearing and will be joined by Commissioners Rhonda Galbally AC and Alastair McEwin AM. Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission will be Mr Pat Griffin SC, Mr Ben Fogarty and Ms Belinda Baker.

Public hearing 20 will be live-streamed on the Disability Royal Commission’s website and include live captioning and Auslan-English interpreters.

Please note journalists should register (in advance if possible) with the Disability Royal Commission media team for a Lexel log-in code to access the live stream and transcript.

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