Review of the Boarding Houses Act

Submission cover sheet

  • Name of organisation or individual making this submission

    Confidentiality requested

Questions on possible options

  1. Are the objects of the Boarding Houses Act 2012 still valid? Why or why not?

    • ANSWER: No, it is not valid, the way services are now provided has changed since the introduction of the NDIS, there are different types of housing models and that participants have a choice to live in (SDA SIL, Independent funded) • NDIS Providers should be able to provide all services to other NDIS houses based upon participants needs and the participants choice • People who reside in SIL accommodation should also be exempt from the NSW BH regulations. If the BH screening tool in its current form was applied to NDIS SIL recipients and enforced by the NSW BH Enforcement team. No one would gain entry into any types of accommodation in NSW, other than an unlicensed Boarding House. The Boarding House Screening tool would exclude them. We would have massive waiting lists of people with disabilities and people living with a mental Illness waiting on entry to accommodation. • Why not? NSW NGO’s are now housing up to 18 participants in one building, 12 participants in another. Under the boarding House regulations in principle these accommodation types are what the NSW BH Enforcement team deem a boarding house, however, the NSW BH team has failed to act. investigation by NSW BH Enforcement Teams are selective and discriminative. Even when I have given names and addresss of these now large establishments.

  2. Are there any types of premises which should be included in or excluded from the Act?

    Scope of the Boarding House Act 2012 Q 2: Are there any types of premises which should be included in or excluded from the Act? • ANSWER: YES, people who reside in NDIS Shared Independent Living (SIL) accommodation should also be exempt from the BH regulations. The NDIS SIL participants are commonwealth funded and procedures under Commonwealth legislation are in place. It is and has been proven by the Assisted Boarding House sector that trying to comply with Federal legislation simultaneously, and the onerous NSW State boarding house legislation they cannot co-exist together. • “The Boarding Houses Act 2012” conflicts with the NDIS regulations. This was proven from a recent NDIS engagement meetings (held for ABH proprietors during the first 6 months of 2019) the meetings turned out to be extremely confusing. The NDIS engagement person showed a power point presentation, that had incorrect information on it. The purpose of the presentation was to try to advise existing NDIS providers that are ABH providers as well of them of their compliance to NDIS regulations, which proved confusing to say the least? One key area of concern of that meeting and presentation was: it implied that the clients of the Assisted Boarding Houses where not funded prior to the NDIS and that the DSP paid for all of their services? This is not true, which concludes that whomever provided the information did not have or did not give accurate information to the NDIS presenter. Fernlea Accommodation Services Recommendation: That if a person wanting to live in an NDIS Supported Accommodation of any type in NSW be it: private, CMO or NGO run group home and the participant has NDIS funding (or is eligible to have NDIS funding) it should not be subject to becoming a NSW Assisted Boarding House. NDIS should establish their own physical monitoring system that is reflective of current trends. Other considerations and recommendation in the interim: • that the NSW Boarding House regulations that defines the number of 2 or more persons living with a disability in the same house is deemed an Assisted Boarding House should consider raising the maximum number participants to 4 or 5, while other regulations are sort.

  3. Should the exclusion that currently applies to specialist disability accommodation for the purposes of the NDIS be extended to other NDIS service types, such as where residents are in receipt of SIL packages?

    Answer: YES - As the answer above has explained all NDIS commonwealth funded participants, whether they are residing in NDIS SDA accommodation, NDIS SIL accommodation or receiving any types of NDIS accommodation supports should be exempt from the NSW Boarding House regulations. I believe that this is a federal matter and state run FACS BH Enforcement Team should have no jurisdiction over this. As all accommodation providers have been approved through the NDIS quality safeguards commission to provide services. Separation of NDIS SIL services and the accommodation should be considered. Fernlea Accommodation Services Recommendation: That if a person wants to live in SIL Supported NDIS Accommodation or any type in NDIS accommodation in NSW be it private SIL group homes ,or charity run SIL group homes and the participant has NDIS funding (or is eligible to have NDIS funding) the group homes should not be subject to being tagged as an (Assisted Boarding House) because they live in NSW’s.

  4. What are the benefits of the two tier system in NSW? How does it compare with systems in other jurisdictions? Please provide comments.

    The two tiers system should have more distinction between the names especially for the Assisted Boarding House sector. This name should have never been given to Assisted Boarding Houses. It has generated negative connotations from the start. We know this was the intent. It has not only defamed the participants and been a source of discriminative they have live with. Not only the person who reside in them but also their families, staff and the proprietors. Wearing this unfortunate tag has only further discriminated against an already vulnerable group of people. ABH’s should not be under state legislation most participants are NDIS funded and now have to abide by Federal Legislation.

  5. Should anything be changed in, or added to, the list of information provided to the Commissioner?

    The name Assisted Boarding House should be changed. The BH legislation should be dropped, as ABH’s proprietors are NDIS providers and we should come under Federal NDIS legislation only. There is enough public registration information, such as our businesses are registered with the Quality Safeguards Commission, which providers are required to go through stringent audits to stay compliant. This information can be found on the NDIS portal. The portal provides general information, provider registration groups, the business names, phone number and addresses. The quality safeguards commission already has this information and more.

  6. Is the information on the public Register sufficient? Why or why not?

    Yes, there is enough information on all public register.

  7. What other information could be added to, or removed from, the public Register?

    There is adequate information provided on the register and all information should be removed when a BH has ceased operations.

  8. Should the Commissioner have the power to remove the details of a boarding house from the public Register under prescribed circumstances, if it has ceased to be used as a boarding house?

    Yes, they must be taken off the register

  9. How could we improve the local regulation of boarding houses?

    For ABHs it is enough regulation where State and Federal are now conflicting. General Boarding Houses are currently under regulated and should come in line with the same legislation as Assisted Boarding House or remove these regulations all together.

  10. Should councils be required to let NSW Fair Trading know of enforcement action against boarding houses, so that it can be recorded in the Register?

    No not unless it is a convicted criminal offence and it is for public record. This can be used as another defamatory tool. There needs to be real safeguards around this. NSW BH Enforcement team could put up minor infringements. It could ruin people’s reputations in other sectors of there life. Only if convicted of an offence.

  11. Are there any provisions of the Standard Occupancy Agreement which should be changed, or are any additional provisions required?

    There are no current issues or problems with the Occupancy Agreement, it meets all requirements of what an ABH business provides in its current state. It covers everything that is required of living in rented places. It should never discuss how a person should pay for their services as suggested by the NSW Enforcement Teams power point.

  12. Do you have any comments on the use of either the Standard Occupancy Agreement, or other occupancy agreements?

    Very aware of the principles, the ABH has adequate principles to cover and protect the person tenancy. It that covers everything that the client pays for and provides protection for them.

  13. How aware are you of the occupancy principles?

    The participants are provided (handed) a hard copy of these principles upon commencement of accommodation tenancy. It is all outlined in the Occupancy Agreement, which states all the principles. It is already written the participant signs the occupancy agreement and is given a hard copy. The social worker or Co ordinator of supports normally assists them to understand if they have difficulty. There is no need for an extra document it is overload.

  14. Should the occupancy principles be handed separately to each resident when they enter a boarding house or is it enough to include them in the Occupancy Agreement?

    No there is no more wall space left. This should be the discretion of each individual home, there are enough rules and regulations required displayed now on walls. It needs to be a home, not a notice board.

  15. Should the occupancy principles be clearly displayed on a notice board in a common area in the boarding house?

    Again No there is no more wall space left. This should be the discretion of each individual home, there are enough rules and regulations required displayed now on walls. It needs to be a home, not a notice board.

  16. Are the occupancy principles useful and appropriate?

    Yes, but some of the principles are clearly defined.

  17. Are the occupancy principles being complied with? If not, why not?

    Each participant under the NDIS has access to external service information that is provided by their NDIS coordinator or social worker. There is a lot of information once they come into the ABH as well. There are now community pathway teams PCLI that also assist the NDIS participant.

  18. Should any other information be provided to a resident when they move into a boarding house? For example, a fact sheet with information about access to outside services, such as dental, Housing NSW, casework psychologists.

    This is already provided. The ABH’s, responsibilities are already outlined in the Act (Section 30, Schedule 1) Also highlighted within occupancy agreement. This is already in place, it is all in NDIS/FACS occupancy agreements, we don’t need more.

  19. Should any information be provided to operators of boarding houses, for example, a fact sheet outlining their responsibilities?

    ABH – No charges need to be made we are well aware of our obligations and are told continuously on a very regular basis by NSW BH Enforcement Team, Community Visitors, Local Council, Advocacy services.

  20. Are the occupancy principle provisions for termination and notice working or are there any changes which should be made?

    • ABH – Yes reasonable notice is provided. These are outlined when moving into an ABH in the occupancy agreement.

  21. Do the suggested notice periods in the Standard Occupancy Agreement constitute “reasonable notice” for terminating an agreement by either a proprietor or a resident? If not, why not?

  22. Should a proprietor be required to provide a reason for terminating an agreement? Why or why not?

  23. Do the current provisions provide sufficient security for residents of boarding houses?

  24. How aware are you of the dispute resolution mechanisms available for house residents and proprietors?

    There are FACs, Fernlea Hostel and NDIS dispute resolution procedure to follow

  25. How effective and appropriate are the current dispute resolution processes?

    Very good each person is supported by their support networks

  26. Do you have any other suggestions to encourage the early resolution of boarding house disputes and to reduce the number of boarding house disputes?

    We have had very little disputes that needed resolving.

  27. Is the definition of a “person with additional needs” clear? If not, why not?

    If a person has access to funding and are NDIS approved or have been accepted into the NDIS, then they should not come under the BH legislation as “person with additional needs” The terminology is NDIS participant they should not be discriminated against and should not be singled out as different. Again naming and labelling does not help the participants that reside in ABH’s they are already discriminated against enough.

  28. Does the definition need to be more detailed?

    Stop Labelling! The clients are heavily discriminated against not only because of the labelling, but they are burdened with the current name Assisted Boarding House label. A name change of the premise should occur at the same time. The NDIS is individualised and the NSW BH regulations it is extremely stigmatising to the participant does not need the label “person with additional needs” at all.

  29. Should it make reference to the Disability Support Pension as an indicator that the person may have “additional needs”?

    No, The Disability Support Pension (DSP) does not (and never did) pay for support services in Assisted Boarding Houses: The DSP is only one way person pay for their room fees. We have people who pay with: Centrelink new start, self funded retirees, veteran affairs, living on their inheritance. This is discrimination! Over the past 3-6 months, during the NDIA Engagement meeting together with the NSW FACs Enforcement Team representatives have held meetings with proprietors of Sydney’s ABHs to discuss what the DSP should cover and what the NDIS should cover. The NDIA Engagement Officers often referred to the NSW BH Screening Tool as a point of reference during these meetings. “If the NDIS participant comes into an ABH the support services are paid from the ABH fee structure. "This is totally incorrect information as Appendix 11 of the Assisted Boarding Houses Authorisation and Monitoring Manual shows. DSP and ABH Fee Structure. The ABH fee structure cannot sustain, nor could it ever sustain, the participants additional supports needed. Occupancy fees for ABHs cover weekly rent for furnished rooms, groceries, “reasonable” cleaning, maintenance and utilities. They do not cover any extra support services required by residents because of their disabilities. Prior to the introduction of the NDIS, NSW ADHC provided block funding for these additional supports via service providers (ALI, Homecare, Australian Unity etc) who were sent to ABH premises to provide these supports to the residents who required them. Those same services are still required by residents because of their disabilities, however, ADHC funding for these supports has been replaced by individual NDIS funding for the same supports and services". Those supports and services were never paid for through the residents’ DSP or the Occupancy fees paid to an ABH. Additionally, and very importantly (referring to the power-point document used in the NDIA engagement meetings ‘The ABH presentation 2019, “there is no legislation either Social Services, Centrelink or the Boarding House Regulations that state that a participant living in an ABH can only purchase support services through their DSP”. This would be considered discrimination towards the DSP recipient and not in the spirit of NDIS’s choice and control. Our cliental have many ways of being paid not just via the (DSP). Not any-where in any of these legislations does it say that the Disability Support Pension (DSP), Centrelink New start payments, Veteran affairs payments, self-funded retires are required to pay for extra services out their personal funds. ADDITIONAL PROOF OF FUNDING:TABLE: Q: Assisted Boarding House DSP clients to be treated fairly No person on the DSP living in an ABH should be forced to only rely on their DSP income for all their needs when there is funding such as the NDIS funding that can support what the DSP does not. This would be discrimination against that person. Each ABH participant was funded by ADHC prior to the NDIS. So, this funding transition over to the NDIS funding. (To be aware the now NDIS SIL group homes still charge 75% of the pension today) of funding by ADHC prior to the NDIS below Reference point Appendix 11: Arranging ADHC Funded Supports for Residents When assessing a Licence Application, it is important to consider the provision of the following services for people with additional needs who will be residing at the premises as required:  Active Linkage Initiative (ALI) services  primary and secondary health services  ADHC caseworkers  Personal Care Services provided by Home Care Arranging ADHC-funded supports for residents will generally be undertaken by local ADHC Boarding House Caseworkers, however in districts where there are no Boarding House Caseworkers it may be necessary for Boarding House Compliance Officers to investigate available supports. This document also details the responsibilities of the Contemporary Residential Options Directorate as the budget holder. Exemption of ABH regulations As the answer above has explained all Commonwealth funded people, whether they are residing in NDIS SIL accommodation, SIL type accommodation or receiving any types of NDIS accommodation funded supports should be exempt from the Boarding House regulations. I believe that this is a Commonwealth matter and FACS BH Enforcement Team should have no jurisdiction. As all accommodation providers have been approved through the NDIS quality safeguards commission to provide services. Recommendation: That if a person wanting to live in NDIS Supported Accommodation of any type in NSW be it private run NDIS SIL houses, charity run NDIS SIL house, and the participant has NDIS funding (or is eligible to have NDIS funding) and should not be subject to the becoming an NSW Assisted Boarding House. NDIS should establish their own physical monitoring system that is reflective of current trends. Reference: Family and Community Services, Assisted Boarding Houses Authorisation and Monitoring Manual, Arranging ADHC Funded Supports for Residents 2013, website

  30. Should it be linked to, or make reference to, NDIS eligibility where those NDIS funded supports are to address a disability support need which is permanent, or likely to be permanent (i.e. not a one-off package for equipment or for where the support is time limited and is not intended to be permanent)?

    The Screening Tool was never intended to, and should NOT be used to, stop private ABH businesses from providing or claiming NDIS services and supports if they are approved NDIS registered providers. To grow, diversify and improve business opportunities within the NDIS sector the Screening Tool must terminate. The ABH sector is in desperate need of an independent party who is NOT involved with FACs (the BH Enforcement team), who can assess these issues, inform ABH proprietors (without bias) of any alterations to key rules, regulations, amendments and decisions that impact the Screening Tool and the ABH structure. In any other business sector, this lack of information and lack of transparency would be considered unlawful. The ABH Screening Tool is no longer relevant and should be discontinued. As proprietors move under the NDIA (Quality Safeguards Commission) and NDIA Federal legislation under which they are certified to provide NDIA supports to participants. Recommendation 1: That if a person seeking accommodation in an ABH and has an NDIS package or is in the process of getting an NDIS package they do not need a Boarding House Screening tool done. Persons who are not eligible for the NDIS they are still subject to the screening Tool. Recommendation 2 is: That if a person wanting to live in Supported Accommodation of any type in NSW be it private run SIL houses, charity run SIL house or ABH’s SIL houses, and the participant has NDIS funding (or is eligible to have NDIS funding) they should not be subject to the Boarding House screening tool. Q: What are the benefits of the two-tier system in NSW? How does it compare with systems in other jurisdictions? Please provide comments.

  31. Should it be made identical to the definition in Section 24 of the National Disability Insurance Act 2013 (with a provision to also include people with an age related disability as people aged 65 years and over are not eligible for the NDIS)?

    Not need to read more

  32. Should the present two-tiered system of “assisted” and “general” boarding houses remain unchanged, and only “assisted boarding houses”, as presently defined, be allowed to accommodate a person with “additional needs” under the legislation? Why or why not?


  33. If you think that some general boarding houses should be allowed to accommodate some people with “additional needs” provided certain safeguards are met, what should these standards and safeguards entail?


  34. Should the general boarding house be allowed to accommodate a person with “additional needs” but only if the person has a “package” of supports such as under the NDIS, or provided by NSW Health?


  35. If the general boarding house is allowed to accommodate people with “additional needs”, should a condition of that be that they are subject to certain requirements?


  36. What other safeguards, if any, would be needed, and why?


  37. What is the impact of specifying that only one person can be the applicant to be the licensee?

    This happen now Each ABH can nominate a key worker as a manager and this would cover going on holidays for any length of time? Or if they were sick? Some case there is already 2 licensees in ABH’s Impact if licensee unavailable for period of time should have a key registered person.

  38. Should corporations and companies be excluded, given that a company can be purchased and sold, in order to prevent a buyer of a company which holds a licence of an assisted boarding house circumvent the requirement to apply for a licence?

    If a person buys the company with an ABH licence this does not change the running of it. The BH rules and BH regulations remain the same. The manager would likely to remain as would the staff. The enforcement stays the same. So purchasing a company should not be excluded. Should remain excluded as most could be bought under company name.

  39. Is 28 days adequate time for a licensee to give notice of closure and to allow for alternative accommodation for the residents to be secured?


  40. When a person is asked to answer questions, should the warning be simplified to state that the person must be advised that: (a) they have the right not to answer the question or produce documents only if they believe such answers or documents will be self-incriminating; and (b) if they do choose to say anything, anything they do say may be noted; and (c) if they say anything which is self-incriminating, it may be used against them in future legal or administrative proceedings?

    The enforcement officers are aggressive, enough to say such arresting dialogue. Enforcement Team are seen to be discriminatory towards ABH’s providers and their residents.

  41. Is the current requirement that one person be specified as an “authorised service provider” adequate? Should the definition of “authorised service provider” be broadened to include any employees of a named organisation providing services to an assisted boarding house?

    • No, they are employees and should not be subject to be named, they are general employees. Under Fair work Australia this would be illegal (my obligation to my employee is to keep their personal information private in a locked area see below reference). Definition of an employee and their obligations to the place of employment would not allow this. If there are any breaches are then are always referred up to management regardless if an employee has breach. There would be confidentially and privacy issues for the employee. Safety for the employee is up most, if this was published others could potentially find them e.g. social media this is not acceptable or legal. Fairwork Australia Employee Privacy

  42. Is the maximum number of 30 residents appropriate? Why or why not?

  43. Are the current arrangements adequate in meeting privacy needs of residents?

  44. Where two residents have decided to share a bedroom, should it be enforced that an additional room not less than 7.5 square metres be set aside for the exclusive use of those two residents only?

  45. Is the current requirement of 11 square metres adequate for a room that two residents choose to share?

  46. Should there be a minimum size for the private or quiet room? If yes, what should this be?

  47. Should a minimum size for a communal living space be specified? Why or why not? If yes, should this be based on the number of residents accommodated e.g. a specified number of square metres per resident?

  48. Are the current provisions of the Act in relation to young persons adequate? Why or why not?

  49. Is the current purpose of the Screening Tool still valid?

    No. Too cumbersome does not reflect • Discriminatory because SIL houses do not have use this process to get obtain clients referrals • NO, the BH screening tool should be abolished! As each ABH provider becomes registered with the NDIS and comes under the NDIS legislation the screening tool should cease. Also, if the current BH screening tool was applied to NDIS SIL accommodation recipients, and was enforced by the current NSW BH FACS Enforcement team, no one would gain entry to any types of accommodation in NSW. The Boarding House Screening tool in its current form would exclude all that were looking for accommodation. We would have people on massive waiting lists. People backed up in Psychiatric Hospitals and never being able to make the criteria of the ABH screening tool, so where do they go? The Screening Tool threshold questions (Threshold questions are questions if answered incorrectly will screen a person out, hence deemed ineligible to enter an Assisted Boarding House but not to an unlicensed Boarding House), which most social workers have indicated that, that is where they send clients after being discharged from hospital. The increasing number of threshold questions without consultation is a serious problem. The fact that no ABH proprietors are ever informed of changes is unacceptable. ABH proprietors should be notified of and should be consulted with, to be able to review questions like: • why they are being increased? • who increases them? • with what authority? Screening Tool Comparisons over a 9-year period: (We asked Australian Unity for the latest BH screening tool however it has not been sent to us). Extracts from an actual Screening Tool written 29/4/2010 11 threshold questions Extracts from an actual Screening Tool written 7/5/2016 18 thresholds questions Extracts from an actual Screening Tool Written 5/6/2019 50+threshold questions The original purpose of the Screening Tool was to assess a person’s (living with mental health or disability) suitability to reside in an ABH depending on their functional capacities. Initially, most genuine and professional ABH proprietors were in agreeance to the introduction of the Screening Tool and the relevance of it. It had a place and purpose in the industry at the time, before the introduction of the NDIS. It has gone too far. With the introduction of the NDIS in NSW, the Screening Tool should be made redundant as participants with a disability are now assessed and determined via the NDIS assessment process and service providers are required to go through a rigorous approval process as well. ABH’s proprietors have seen the boarding house screening tool be increasingly used we feel as a ‘weapon’ to significantly restrict the participants entering an Assisted Boarding Houses. The ABH Enforcement Team have used it beyond its original intention. NSW BH Screening Tool Blockage to Business Improvements and Growth The boarding House screening Tool should not apply to NDIS participants wanting to reside in an Assisted Boarding House The ABH Screening Tool screening has been incorrectly and discriminatively used to limit any potential business options over the years for ABH Proprietors.In an ABH, clients are required to go through a Screening Tool, this is lengthy and cumbersome, and we are finding in the industry that disadvantaged people are being screened out and then must go to unlicensed places. So, why shouldn’t they (BH) be licensed well and go through the same process, or why do ABH’s need to be licenced? This is clearly double standards in the industry. There should be an investigation on how this has been administered, who has the authority to increase threshold questions? In my experience the Boarding House Expert Advisory Group BHEAG the group has been a vail so NSW BH Enforcement Team can say they are ticking boxes. If you look on past minutes you will find little representation feedback protests or any thing else from the ABH proprietors stated on them.

  50. If an assisted boarding house resident, actual or proposed, has a package of supports which meets their needs, should he or she be considered eligible to live in an assisted boarding house regardless of their level of need? (For instance, if a person needed daily personal care but he or she had an NDIS package where he or she could purchase those supports, could this be delivered in an assisted boarding house?)

    This is already happening NDIS service are successfully being delivered in ABHs. If a person has a NDIS package or is eligible for the NDIS then they should not be subject to an Assisted BH screening assessment.

  51. Are the current provisions of the Act adequate in relation to abuse and neglect?

  52. Should there be a clause in the Regulation which states that in a boarding house which is authorised to accommodate a person with additional needs, a receipt for any money received from, or on behalf of that person, must be issued to the person and a copy of all such receipts kept? This includes details of the purpose of the receipt of money or payment.

    Under the NDIS there are clear policies financial management structures to be put in place to pass the auditing each approved ABH NDIS provider will have this in place. Only If financial assistance is required, the resident can go under TAG, receipts should be provided/kept on record as any other business. People who can manage their finances should.

  53. Should there be a clause in the Regulation which specifically covers financial exploitation? If yes, given many residents of assisted boarding houses have difficulty managing their finances, how would “exploitation” be defined and differentiated from “assistance”?

  54. If yes, should the clause also cover the management and delivery of the resident’s NDIS Plan?

  55. Are the current provisions of the Act in relation to record keeping adequate?

  56. Should the records required to be kept by an assisted boarding house, and which are therefore available for inspection by a Department of Communities and Justice boarding house enforcement officer, be expanded to include: a) Occupancy Agreements? b) NDIS Plans and NDIS Service Agreements? c) Payments to a service provider under the NDIS Plan? d) Any other record or document?

    NO, they are already overseen by NDIS so why? There is a whole Federal body set up for this. ABH Enforcement team has access to everything to do with the ABH such as general documentation. To safeguard the participant NDIS service agreements that are subject to NDIS auditing and overseeing by the NDIS are in place. There is privacy and confidentiality considerations and I ask the question what is the purpose and why do the NSW BH enforcement team need to see this? • No – Only ABH as I was told the NSW BH Enforcement Team are about the condition of the building and what is being provided in the occupancy agreement is being met. It does not nor should it extend to the NDIS. • No - Only if consent has been given by the resident • No – if they are a different regulating body e.g. NDIS. We are private businesses why do they see what service we provide and be paid for, this is already governed, regulated, audited by the NDIS, NOT other bodies. The NSW BH Enforcement team have already smothered any growth for the clients that live in the ABH’s by the way of onerous regulations and aggressive licencing. They should never have that opportunity to stifle the NDIS participants.

At our discretion we may remove parts of submissions because of length, content, appropriateness or confidentiality (privacy) reasons.