Ageing, Disability & Home Care

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Minister welcomes Ombudsman report

16 August 2011

NSW Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance, has welcomed a report from the Ombudsman on the boarding house industry, which was tabled in Parliament today.

“The Ombudsman has been reviewing issues with licensed boarding houses for almost a decade. He has been calling for changes to the law that governs this industry and has made some very sound recommendations over that time to improve the safety and wellbeing of residents living in their premises,” Mr Constance said. 
The O’Farrell Government will be finalising a review into legislation governing licensed boarding houses, and in doing so overhauling the Youth and Community Services Act, 1973 that is supposed to safeguard the rights of residents with a disability living in boarding houses.

The review will also propose a broader approach to regulation of this industry to ensure that people with a disability do not fall through the cracks, and are unprotected in boarding houses that are unlicensed.

“I share the Ombudsman’s concerns that legal safeguards are not in place. Unlike my predecessors, I believe in action to rectify this long running issue,” Mr Constance said.

“The former Labor Government were well aware of the shortcomings of the legislation, they failed to act on the recommendations of their own Interdepartmental Committee and instead sent their report out for yet another consultation.”

“There has been a decade of consultation on this issue – it’s now time for action”.

“Since becoming Minister for Disability Services, I’ve set as a clear priority the improvement of access to better health services and other community based supports for residents.”

“The O’Farrell Government will not hesitate to take action if representatives of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) are being denied access to inspect all, or parts of a licensed boarding house to assess compliance – the primary concern being for the health and well-being of residents.”

ADHC has an obligation under the Youth and Community Services Act, 1973 to license and regulate boarding houses that accommodate people with a disability.

There are currently no occupancy or tenancy rights for residents living in boarding houses, and no clear responsibilities for operators or residents on how the property should be maintained.

“The O’Farrell Government will be strengthening the legislation, as the Ombudsman has been calling for, as soon as practicable,” Mr Constance said.

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