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Report finds service provider failed to prevent violence and abuse against residents in group homes

The Royal Commission has today released a Commissioner’s report on Public hearing 20, which examined the experiences of people with disability engaging with the service provider Life Without Barriers (LWB).

Public hearing 20 examined two case studies involving group homes operated by LWB. The first case study involved Sophie* and Natalie*, who lived together with other residents in a group home located in Lismore, northern New South Wales. The second case study involved Robert* and Rebecca*, who lived together with other residents in a group home in Melbourne.

The report makes 34 findings, including that the CEO of LWB, Claire Robbs, was reluctant to accept that there had been any significant deficiency in the operations or services provided by the organisation identified by the Royal Commission. An embargoed copy of the report was provided to LWB ahead of the CEO’s appearance at Public hearing 32 on 16 February 2023.

Key findings in the report include:

  • LWB created relationship rules for Sophie which affected the way she carried out intimate relationships. The Commissioners found the rules did not support Sophie’s* right to intimacy or respect her privacy, and undermined her sense of having a real home.

  • LWB failed to provide adequate support for Sophie after she was sexually assaulted, and did not properly debrief or provide guidance to their staff about how to best support her in the aftermath of the assault.

  • LWB failed to promptly act to remove a LWB worker who engaged in sexual misconduct against Natalie, and LWB managers failed to report the misconduct after being informed of it by house staff.

  • LWB did not keep proper medical records in relation to Natalie*, and failed to seek medical care for her in a timely manner prior to her hospitalisation for a bowel obstruction.

  • LWB failed to take adequate action to reduce or eliminate acts of interpersonal violence between residents of the house in Melbourne between 2013 – 2020, when LWB stopped operating the house.

Key recommendations in the report include:

  • LWB should promptly make all policies readily available to residents, their families and any staff who may be affected by them.

  • LWB should consider making an ex gratia payment to Natalie* as compensation for the conduct of the LWB worker who engaged in sexual misconduct against her.

  • LWB should provide further information to the Royal Commission in respect of its progress towards improving record keeping and incident reporting.

Public hearing 20 is one of a series of Public hearings held by the Royal Commission, examining how disability service providers can and should prevent and respond to violence towards and abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.

Please direct all inquiries to the Disability Royal Commission Media team on 0436 841 166 or via our email