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. • NSW CMO” s 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. On investigating this which is by selective and discriminative. NO, it has become impossible to meet both regulations the (Boarding House Regulations and NDIS Regulations) although similar in limited ways they are virtually impossible to adhere to simultaneously. Each ABH proprietor is finding it impossible to find correct information and to combine the NDIS & ABH legislation they are conflicting. As a result of the NDIS engagement meeting, although trying to follow both legislations, in the recent NDIS engagement meetings we were told that a “registered NDIS provider who is also an ABH may be acting fraudulently”, for simply providing NDIS services. This type of overarching threat cannot be tolerated. The Boarding Houses Act 2012 is in conflict with the NDIS regulations. From these NDIS engagement meetings (held for ABH proprietors during the first 6 months of 2019) turned out to be extremely confusing. The NDIS engagement person showed a power points that had incorrect information on it? Those personal daily activities services are still required by residents because of their disabilities, that ADHC funding provided before the NDIS should be than replaced by NDIS individual funding. During the engagement meetings the facilitator said that the resident of the ABH paid for those services through the Centrelink Disability Support Pension DSP or the Occupancy fees paid to an ABH. We believe the NDIS facilitator was given incorrect information. There is no legislation either Social Services, Centrelink or the Boarding House Regulations that states 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.

  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. It is and has been proven by the Assisted Boarding House sector that trying to comply with Federal legislation simultaneously, and the onerous State boarding house legislation cannot co-exist together. 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 receives NDIS funding (or is eligible to have NDIS funding) their accommodation 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 7, 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 quality safeguards commission to provide services. Fernlea Accommodation Services Recommendation: That if a person wanting to live in SIL Supported Accommodation of any type in NSW be it private(CMO) run SIL group homes ,or charity (CMO) run SIL group homes and the participant has NDIS funding (or is eligible to have NDIS funding) the group home should not be subject to being tagged as an (Assisted Boarding House) because of NSW BH regulations.

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

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

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

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

  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?

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

  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?

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

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

  13. How aware are you of the occupancy principles?

  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?

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

  16. Are the occupancy principles useful and appropriate?

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

  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.

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

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

  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?

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

  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?

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

  28. Does the definition need to be more detailed?

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

  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)?

  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)?

  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?

  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?

  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?

  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?

  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, 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 Boarding House Screening Tool (BHST) has been misused: 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. 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 NDIA 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. Screening Tool Comparisons over a 9-year period: 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 30 + threshold questions The ABH sector is in desperate need of an independent party who is NOT involved with FACs (the BH Enforcement team), who is able to 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. The increasing number of threshold questions without consultation is a serious problem. The fact that no ABH proprietors are ever informed of changes is serious. Questions ABH proprietors should be notified of and should be able to questions are: • why they are being increased • who increases them? • with what authority. BH Screening Tool Blockage to Business Improvements and Growth. The NDIS is a business opportunity for proprietors to supply additional NDIS services to the existing clients. Instead, The ABH Screening Tool screening has been incorrectly and discriminatively used to limit any potential business options over the years for ABH Proprietors. The NDIS has opened a new marketplace for all business and it should not exclude Assisted Boarding Houses who are certified and/or verified to be NDIS providers. 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 Threshold questions (Threshold question are question if answered incorrectly will screen a person out, hence deemed ineligible to enter an Assisted Boarding House but not an unlicensed Boarding House)

  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?)

    Yes. it already is being done successfully except for the ABH screening tool restrictions. An ABH proprietor who is a registered NDIS provider and is qualified to provide individualised services, then they should be considered by the participant as a service provider. Once a company or a person becomes verified or certified with the NDIS, they should be able to offer the participant in-house support services if the participant chooses. Moreover, not giving this choice and control to participants simply because they live in an ABH is discriminatory towards not only the participant but also the ABH proprietors.

  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.

  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?

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