Update: Disability Royal Commission reviews Group Homes

Main Content

Disability Royal Commission reviews Group Homes by Justin O’Meara Smith

The Royal Commission held three public hearings in 2019 to outline their scope, approach and reviews into education and housing. Issues papers and workshops were also undertaken into health, education, advocacy, legal systems, service providers, first nations people and criminal justice. The RC Legal Service has now been launched and is available to assist people with disability, and their families, carers, supporters and advocates to actively engage in the RC processes. The calendar of events for the RC has been published through to the end of the financial year. However, at this time there are no events planned for WA.

To date, Interchange has not been contacted by the RC. It appears the profile of organisations contacted relate to group homes and disability employment. Notably, the first review of Group Homes in Victoria has highlighted both good and bad practice.

Across Australia there are approximately 17,000 people living in Group Home settings. Although this is a positive indication people are open to sharing their home with others, there have been numerous instances of violence, abuse and neglect.  When first established, Group Homes were proposed to be a stepping-stone to independent or community living but have turned out for many to be the only option to access 24/7 supports. Due to a lack of alternate options, people with disability have limited choice. Consequently, they are exposed to risks from both their staff and co-residents.

Aligned to the findings of the Aged Care Royal Commission, concerns have been raised about the increased casualisation of the workforce, the inability of providers to retain staff and low pay, leading to further risks to people with disability.

The Interchange Difference.

Interchange provides alternatives to the Group Home approach through our individualised accommodation strategies:

  • 24/7 roster
  • Host
  • Companion
  • Visiting support


We are developing alternative living options through drawing on our 30-year history of individualised funding. Recognising positive outcomes, the NDIA is undertaking a pilot program to see how they can bring these alternate approaches into the NDIS.

Further Improvements.

Over the past six months, we have been focused on Identification and Improvement: The identification of risk events and the improvement of quality data relating to our customers and their support needs. Through our investment in technology, we are already seeing significant improvements (now and into the future) in record keeping.

Going forward, we feel our most significant risk exposure relates to customers with (un)identified risks and no contemporary therapy plan to guide staff. Therefore, an internal audit checklist has been developed to review of all customers against current records and documentation. This is being undertaken by Neighbourhood Team Leaders and staff who know the customer and their support needs. Our focus is to identify any gaps and improve awareness of known risks and prioritise access to therapy plans and training to guide staff.

Chief Executive Officer
Justin O’Meara Smith