Moderator’s Advocacy and Social Justice - The human rights of people in supported accommodation

10 June 2024

Moderator’s Advocacy and Social Justice - The human rights of people in supported accommodation Image

By Bruce Moore, Moderator

The Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia has spoken out in support of the human rights of people in supported accommodation in a submission to the Queensland government recently.

“It is critical to advocate for residents in supported accommodation due to their vulnerability, their complex support needs including disability, intellectual disability or mental illness, and often limited family or community support.” stated the Moderator Rev Bruce Moore, outlining the inequities of the system,  “Residents have little or no money after paying up to 95% of their income, usually the Disability Support Pension, to private residential services in Queensland, while other Queenslanders with similar support needs pay no fees for support services and only pay 25% of their income for accommodation.”

The final report of the Community Support and Services Committee’s Inquiry into the provision and regulation of supported accommodation in Queensland has now been released. The paragraph below from the Synod’s submission was quoted twice in the final report:

Any government funding directed to this issue should be towards alleviating the financial burden of vulnerable people who are currently required to subsidise private residential service operators, from the Disability Support Pension or similar. In effect, federal government funds (i.e. from income support payments like the Disability Support Pension, along with rent allowances) are paying for accommodation and support that is unsuitable and expensive.

The Synod’s submission also made a number of recommendations which have been reflected in the Committee’s twelve recommendations, such as:

  • a review of the Residential Services (Accreditation) Act 2002 with a focus on improving the safeguards for residents living in private residential services
  • that the Queensland Government consider the provision of funding for personal services provided by residential service providers for people in level 3 accredited residential services, who are not eligible for National Disability Insurance Scheme support but have complex support needs, disabilities, intellectual impairments, or are otherwise at risk of isolation
  • that the Department of Housing, Local Government, Planning and Public Works prioritise reform of the regulation, compliance, and oversight framework of residential services in Queensland incorporating a ‘person-centred’ approach that reflects contemporary values and expectations including the Human Rights Act 2019, the Human Services Quality Framework  and the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and also  be guided by recommendations from the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, particularly Recommendation 7.38.
  • implementation of individual independent assessments of the housing and support needs of all new residents, and bi-annual assessments of the housing and support needs of existing residents.
  • amendments to legislation to provide better tenancy protection for vulnerable people, and modification of zero tolerance requisites in tenancy agreements with vulnerable residents

The Moderator thanks the Committee for its work on improving supported accommodation for vulnerable people in Queensland and urges the state government to implement all twelve recommendations from the Committee’s Inquiry. He encourages the life of the church in Queensland to join him and write to their elected members requesting implementation of these crucial recommendations.

“We are called” he says drawing words from the Uniting Church’s foundational document the Statement to the Nation “to the proclamation of truth and justice, the rights for each citizen to participate in decision-making in the community … and a concern for the welfare of the whole human race

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