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Public hearing 23 - Preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in disability services (a case study), Sydney - Day 1

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Publication date

CHAIR:  Good morning everybody. I welcome everyone to this, which is the 23rd  Public hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.  This is a five day hearing and we're at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, and during this hearing we will be examining the experiences of people with disability and their families who live in   who have the services of a service provider, Australian Foundation for Disability, known as Afford. 

This is the fourth of a series of  Public hearings in which the Royal Commission has and will forensically examine case studies arising out of the activities and practices of particular service providers.  At the outset, we wish to acknowledge the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the land on which my colleagues and I are sitting today. We pay our respects to elders, past present and emerging and we also pay respects to all First Nations people who are attending the hearing in person today, as well as those who are following the hearing on the live stream. 

As anyone who has been following the work of the Royal Commission will know, our program of  Public hearings has been severely affected by the COVID 19 pandemic.  The restrictions on movement Associated with the pandemic and the continuing spread of the infection, most recently affecting staff attending a hearing in Hobart held in late March. All these things have forced us to conduct hearings remotely and in some cases we've been forced to postpone scheduled hearings. 

As I've said on a number of occasions, this has created formidable challenges for the Royal Commission, but they have been met by dint of extraordinary efforts on the part of Counsel Assisting, all branches of the Royal Commission, as well as the other agencies whose contributions are necessary for the successful conduct of hearings. In a sense, therefore, today marks a special occasion because this  Public hearing in Sydney is actually open to members of the public, and I welcome everybody who has come to the hearing today. 

We have three Commissioners, you can see, present in person, and we have witnesses and Counsel Assisting will also participate in person.  The Royal Commission has not been able to hold a hearing of this kind since  Public hearing 13 which took place between the 24th and the 28th of May 2021 at Homebush, also in New South Wales.  It has therefore been 11 months and 19 days since this Royal Commission has held a  Public hearing in the fullest sense.  We sincerely hope that the remainder of the Royal Commission's Public hearings scheduled for 2022 can be conducted in this way, and the schedule for the rest of the year can be found on the Royal Commission's website. 

At this hearing I am joined by Commissioner Alastair McEwin AM and Commissioner Barbara Bennett PSM.  I shall shortly take appearances from Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission and parties given leave to appear.  As I mentioned, this is the fourth in a series of what we describe as forensic hearings examining the actions, policies and processes of particular service providers.   Public hearing 13 examined how a service provider, Sunnyfield, delivered NDIS funded services to its clients, its handling of legitimate complaints made on behalf of residents of Sunnyfield's accommodation and issues relating to Sunnyfield's governance. 

The Commissioners' report on  Public hearing 13 has now been published and it is available on the website.  The report makes 24 findings about Sunnyfield's conduct, practices and procedures and also makes some recommendations directed specifically to Sunnyfield.   Public hearing 14 was held in Adelaide between 7 and 11 June 2021.  It heard evidence about the responses of the NDIA, the National Disability Insurance Agency, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, and the South Australian Department of Human Services to two independent reports which examined the circumstances leading up to the tragic death of Ms Ann Marie Smith, a death which rightly received a great deal of public attention and aroused very deep community concern. 

Public hearing 14 also examined the responses of the South Australian Department of Human Services to a threat of harm that had been sent by letter to a person with disability, and actual harm that was perpetrated on another resident, both of whom were people   are people with intellectual disability.  This happened in disability accommodation operated by the department.  A Commissioner's report on  Public hearing 14 will be published in the near future. 

Public hearing 20 which was held virtually between 7 and 14 December 2021 in Sydney examined the policies, processes and conduct of Life Without Barriers, a registered NDIS provider whose activities include operating group homes.  That hearing addressed whether Life Without Barriers gave effect to a resident's basic human right to engage in intimate human relationships.  It addressed the adequacy of Life Without Barriers' responses to sexual violence perpetrated against the resident and also its response to resident upon resident violence at a group home.   The hearing considered also the compatibility of residents living in the same group home and the choice and control that was available to them in relation to the residents with whom they were to live.  A Commissioner's report on  Public hearing 20 will be published in due course.

The terms of reference, as many of you will appreciate, require the Royal Commission to focus on systemic issues which are informed by individual experiences.  We must inquire into how institutions should prevent people with disability from experiencing all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in all settings and contexts.  The terms of reference further direct the Royal Commission to inquire into the critical role that carers play in providing care and support to people with disability, and to have regard to examples of best practice and innovative modes of preventing, reporting, investigating or responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability. 

As I have noted at the other public forensic hearings, the significance of a forensic examination of the conduct and practices of particular service providers goes well beyond holding the particular service provider accountable, should the evidence justify such a finding, for failing to prevent violence against and abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability for whom that service provider provides services or accommodation. 

The underlying purpose of these hearings is to identify and address the systemic issues that demand reforms to enhance the safety, health and wellbeing of people with disability and to prevent them from experiencing violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation.  This  Public hearing will examine the provision of support services by Afford to people with intellectual disability during the period 2018 to 2021.  The evidence will concentrate on Afford’s day care program, particularly on a program conducted at Mount Druitt.  Among other things, the evidence will examine the experience of several people with intellectual disability who were subject to abuse by a support worker.  That support worker was subsequently convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment. 

The evidence will also address a series of important systemic issues concerning Afford’s governance, staffing arrangements, culture, systems for reporting and responding to incidents, and its approach to communicating with clients and families involved in its day programs.  The Royal Commission will hear, subject to any contrary updates from Mr Griffin, from 10 witnesses.  Five witnesses will give evidence of the experience of people with disability in a group home run by Afford and will appear in person, and one will give evidence via audiovisual link.  The Registrar of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission will give evidence in person, and three witnesses from Afford will also give evidence in person. 

Mr Griffin SC, Senior Counsel Assisting the Commission will provide more details on the scope and purpose of the hearing, the themes to be interrogated and the evidence to be presented.  Mr Griffin will also provide more details about Afford.  I only want to mention that the history of Afford fits into a pattern with which we have become familiar.  It was established in 1952 as a charity under the name of the Poliomyelitis Society of Australia, making it one of the oldest disability service providers in the country.  Like other service providers which began life as charitable organisations, Afford has become a very large organisation and has grown especially since the rollout of the NDIS. 

To illustrate the point, according to its latest financial report, Afford had revenue in 2020 to 2021 of $145.6  million, more than triple its revenue in 2013 and 2014.  By 2019 to 2020, the proportion of Afford’s revenue derived from the NDIS was 49 per cent, compared with 17 per cent in 2016/17. Afford’s clients base has increased dramatically from 425 in 2014/15 to 6,681 in 2020/21.

It has become apparent at other hearings that the transition from a relatively small charitable organisation to a much larger organisation providing services that are meant to be person centred, providing those services on a commercial basis, presents very considerable challenges for service providers like Afford, Sunnyfield and Life Without Barriers. These challenges raise systemic issues of great importance to the health, safety and wellbeing of people with disability. I shall now take appearances. 

MR GRIFFIN:  Chair and Commissioners, my name is Patrick Griffin.  I appear with Catherine Gleeson and Ben Fogarty as Counsel Assisting this inquiry.

CHAIR:  Thank you, Mr Griffin.  Yes, is there an appearance?

MS MUNROE:  May it please the Commission, my name is Ms Munroe and I appear on behalf of the Commonwealth.

CHAIR:  Yes.  Thank you, Ms Munroe.  I might take the appearance from Afford next.

MR WATSON:  My name is Mr Watson and together with Ms Lee, we would seek your leave to appear for Afford.  I'm also joined at the table by Ms Lyons and Mr O'Kane, solicitors who are briefing us.

CHAIR:  Thank you, Mr Watson.  I think leave has been granted to Afford to appear at the hearing, so that leave has been granted to you. 

MR WATSON:  Thank you.

CHAIR:  Thank you very much. The State of New South Wales. I understand that there are representatives from three of the witnesses, so perhaps starting with the witness who will go under the name of Suzie. 

MR BRENNAN:  If the Commission pleases, my name is Brennan and I appear for the witness known as Suzie.

CHAIR:  Thank you, Mr Brennan.  The witness known as Dianne. 

MR O'BRIEN:  Commissioner, O'Brien is my name.  I appear for Dianne.

CHAIR:  The witness known as Sally, is there an appearance for Sally?  Alright.  That appearance may be taken later.  Is there any other appearance to be announced?  If not, thank you.  Yes, Mr Griffin. 

MR GRIFFIN:  Thank you, Chair. Royal Commissioners, we also acknowledge and pay our respects to the traditional custodians of the lands on which we are meeting today.  We pay our respects to First Nations Elders, past present and emerging, as well as First Nations people following this  Public hearing. 

Before I address any issues to be explored in this hearing, I must warn people watching or listening that I am about to refer to incidents of violence against and abuse of people with disability.  The Royal Commission encourages people who may be distressed to seek support.  A slide will now appear on the screen with relevant contact numbers if assistance is required. 

Commissioners, this is the fourth  Public hearing to examine issues of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability who are receiving services from a disability service provider.  Like the previous three service provider Hearings,  Public hearings 13, 14 and 20, this hearing will focus on a particular disability service provider.  That provider is the Australian Foundation for Disability, commonly referred to as Afford. 

Today you will hear evidence about experiences of three young people with disability, all of whom received services from Afford in periods between 2014 and 2021.  Two of those young people were abused by an Afford worker in the course of receiving those services.  In addition to hearing evidence about this abuse and how Afford responded to it, we will examine a number of issues and themes.  Some are similar to those which were discussed in the three previous service provider hearings but, for example, we shall consider six particular areas. 

Firstly, how Afford’s structure, governance, framework and organisational culture affected the safety and quality of the services it provided.  Secondly, Afford’s systems and procedures for identifying, recording and responding to incidents and for responding to complaints, including incidents and complaints concerning potential violence, abuse and neglect, and how those systems and procedures operated in practice.  Thirdly, the extent to which Afford communicated and worked together with families of the people with disability to whom it provided services, endeavouring to ensure the best possible support was provided in the safest environment. 

Fourthly, the adequacy of the training and support given to Afford’s frontline staff so that they could do their jobs in a safe environment and to the best of their ability.  Fifthly, how the funding of disability services through the National Disability Insurance Scheme, NDIS, can impact the service and supports provided to people with disability who have high support needs.  And finally, the role played by NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission in the oversight of disability service providers such as Afford. 

This hearing will also have some differences from the three previous service provider hearings.  First, the focus of much of the hearing will be on what are commonly referred to as day programs, rather than on group homes and other types of accommodation services discussed previously.  This introduces some different terminology and particular issues connected with funding which I will address shortly. 

Secondly, you will hear evidence throughout the hearing about the rapid growth strategy pursued, and indeed achieved, by Afford from 2015 to 2021, and we will examine the impact of that strategy on the safety and quality of services being provided.  Thirdly, you will hear evidence from former Afford staff, two of whom provided direct support to people with disability participating in its day program.  This evidence will raise issues concerning how Afford recruited, trained and promoted staff about the challenges faced by its frontline workers and about the impact of those challenges. 

Let me first deal with Afford and its day programs.  As mentioned, Afford began operating in the early 1950s in northern Sydney when its name was the Poliomyelitis Society of Australia.  For the next 67 years it remained a New South Wales based disability service provider until its expansion into Queensland and Victoria in 2018, following the introduction of the NDIS. 

As I have noted, there will be witness and documentary evidence about the tremendous growth of Afford over the past seven years, in many ways outlined by the Chair a moment ago.  In the financial year 2014 to 2015, to the financial year 2020/21, its revenue increased from 45.7 million to 145.6 million.  The numbers of people with disability to whom it provided services also grew from 425 in 2014/15 to 6,281 in 20/21. 

The service provided by Afford includes supported accommodation services, that is, group homes and respite, NDIS support coordination, Disability Employment Services, and day programs.  Commissioners, Afford describes its day programs as "hubs" where programs are specially tailored for people with moderate to severe disability to enjoy an inclusive and engaging environment whilst building their confidence and social skills.  Currently, those hubs are referred to by Afford as "Lifestyle centres."

You will hear evidence on Wednesday from the Afford Executive Manager of Lifestyle Centres, Mr Wayne Adamson.  We will use the term "day program" throughout this hearing to refer to the services and supports provided by Afford to participants, both at its lifestyle centres and during outings and activities in the community.  You will hear evidence that people with disability can participate in activities at or through a day program for one or more days per week, generally between the hours of 9 am and 4 pm.  According to its website, Afford now operates 28 day programs in New South Wales, eight in Queensland, three in Victoria, three in Western Australia, and two in South Australia. 

You will hear evidence from the parents of three young men with disability who participated in the Afford day program at Mount Druitt in New South Wales.  You will also hear evidence from two former staff members who worked at that day program. The support workers at Afford’s day programs are referred to as Lifestyle Assistants and Senior Lifestyle Assistants.  In addition, each Afford day program has one or more Team Leaders who are responsible for the operation of that day program.  Several day programs have been grouped by a geographical area under the responsibility of an Afford district manager. 

Commissioners, in the course of preparing for this hearing, we have heard about numerous Afford Lifestyle Assistants, Senior Lifestyle Assistants, Team Leaders and other staff who have provided and continue to provide excellent support to people with disability.  We take this opportunity to acknowledge their skill and their dedication. 

Can I now deal with the Mount Druitt program and the abuse by a worker called Daniel Nuumaalii.  Commissioners, the starting point of this hearing is the Mount Druitt day program and the experiences of three young men with disability who participated in that program.  We have assigned the pseudonyms Jason, Toby and Simon to those young men, and each of their mothers will give evidence later today. 

As will be familiar to those following the work of the Royal Commission at each of our hearings, we take a trauma informed approach to the presentation of evidence.  This includes respecting the choices of people with disability concerning their participation in the hearing process.  For this and other reasons, we will not be hearing evidence directly from Jason, Toby and Simon themselves.  Instead, we will be presenting evidence from members of their families. 

In order to protect Jason, Toby and Simon's identities, we have also given pseudonyms to those witnesses.  Jason's mother, Sally, will be our first witness.  Her evidence will be followed by the evidence of Simon's mother, Lilly.  Lilly will appear via video link.  Finally today, we will hear from Toby's mother, Suzie, who will be accompanied by Toby's father, Rob. 

Both Jason and Toby were among several people with disabilities who were abused by the former Afford Lifestyle Assistant, Daniel Nuumaalii in 2019.  Daniel Nuumaalii was arrested in May 2020 by New South Wales Police and charged with a number of offences.  The evidence against him was found on his telephone where he had recorded images and videos, including images and videos of Jason, Toby and other participants in the Mount Druitt day program.  Those videos were recorded over several months in the second half of 2019.

Commissioners, we will not be showing any of the videos or images in the course of this hearing, nor putting them into evidence before you, for reasons which will become apparent. It is important, however, for you to understand the nature of the abuse perpetrated by Daniel Nuumaalii against Jason, Toby and the other people with disabilities that I've referred to. 

Again, I would like to warn those following the hearing that they may find matters I will describe distressing. Mr Nuumaalii was employed as a casual Lifestyle Assistant by Afford in June 2019 at the Mount Druitt day program.  Among his duties, he provided personal care to participants in the day program, both at their homes in the morning before they went to the day program and in the course of the day. Mr Nuumaalii also drove participants in the day program on outings to activities and provided support for them both inside the Mount Druitt centre or hub and out in the community. 

When Mr Nuumaalii's phone was examined by New South Wales Police in early 2020, it was found to contain videos and images recorded during personal care.  These include images of people with disability who were naked in the shower, who were using the toilet or having their incontinence aids changed.  In addition to recording these intimate images, Mr Nuumaalii also shared some of them with other people. 

In addition, in one video, Mr Nuumaalii records himself inhaling from an e cigarette, blowing smoke into Jason's face and gently slapping him while in the vehicle.  Commissioners, I use the word "gently" because that was the agreed statement of facts before the Court.  In April 2021, Daniel Nuumaalii pleaded guilty to a number of offences connected to this abuse.  He was sentenced for these and other offences to three and a half years imprisonment with a non parole period of 18 months. 

In addition to the abuse of people with disability that was the subject of the criminal charges and convictions, there were additional videos and images on Daniel Nuumaalii's phone of conduct which can be characterised as abuse.  This includes verbal abuse and taunting.  For example, in some clips Mr Nuumaalii shows Jason's food brought from McDonald's and tells him he cannot have it, swearing at him in the process.  In one video clip he is seen driving past McDonald's with Jason in the vehicle, taunting and swearing at him and telling him he cannot go in.  In several videos, Jason appears distressed.

Commissioners, there is no evidence that Daniel Nuumaalii's employer, Afford, was aware of this abuse of people with disability prior to it being uncovered by police.  We will be presenting evidence concerning how Afford responded after the abuse was brought to its attention by the police. 

As I have noted, the abuse by Daniel Nuumaalii and its impact on the people with disability concerned and their families is the starting point of this hearing.  However, the evidence that we've presented is not confined to this particular case study.  Each of the witnesses today, Sally, Lilly and Suzie, will tell the Royal Commission about other issues of concern to them about the manner in which Afford supported Jason, Simon and Toby while they attended the day program.  Those issues will also be the subject of evidence before   from the two former Afford workers tomorrow. 

Can I deal with the subject of the death of Merna Aprem. Before I give more details about the witness evidence, I need to mention another tragic event which occurred in 2019 and which is referred to in the number of documents, as well as by some of the witnesses.  Commissioners, on the 23rd of May 2019, a young woman with disability named Merna Aprem died.  At the time of her death, Ms Aprem was living in supported accommodation provided by Afford in Woodbine, New South Wales. I understand Ms Aprem's mother, Tanya Petrus, is present today to watch these proceedings.  We understand that there is an ongoing inquiry into the causes of Ms Aprem's death, as well as legal proceedings in the Federal Court brought by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission against Afford in relation to it. 

It's important I mention, Commissioners, that we are constrained by our terms of reference not to prejudice any ongoing legal proceedings in any matter we discuss at a  Public hearing.  For these reasons, we will not be presenting evidence on those matters nor asking you, Commissioners, to make any findings in respect of the circumstance of Ms Aprem's death.  However, there will be evidence about the death of Ms Aprem and the investigations that followed and discussions which were triggered within Afford about the organisation safeguarding systems and processes. 

In particular, at least one member of the senior executive team and one member of the Board began raising the alarm internally about whether Afford was complying with relevant regulatory frameworks and obligations and had sufficient focus on issues of safe, high quality service provision. 

Can I now outline in broad terms the evidence to be given by witnesses, firstly dealing with Sally.  Our first witness is Sally.  She is the mother of Jason.  She's also his primary carer.  Jason is 24 years old and lives at home with his parents in western Sydney.  He's also very close to his sister Nicola, who I understand is also present today.  Jason identifies as a First Nation man.  Jason lives with Autism and intellectual disability.  He's predominantly nonverbal and requires assistance with almost all aspects of daily living and personal care.  Jason communicates with gestures, sounds and some words.  He can show when he is frustrated or distressed through his behaviour.

When Jason finished school in 2016, the NDIS was being introduced.  His NDIS plan included funding for "Core supports."  Sally and other members of Jason's family considered a day program might suit him and could help to build his independence and communication skills.  Because Sally and other members of the family had to work, Jason also required assistance with personal care in the mornings and transport to the day program.

Sally will tell you there were several reasons why she chose the day program offered by Afford at Mount Druitt.  She will also tell you that from the outset she had some concerns about the services Afford provided to Jason.  One of her main concerns was about the lack of communication she received from Afford which left her feeling like she knew little about what Jason was doing each day and who he was with.  She will also describe how the turnover of staff, particularly of Team Leaders, had a major impact on these communication difficulties.  She will say that it seemed as if she only heard from Afford when Jason had a behaviour and was involved in some kind of incident, meaning he had to be collected by his family. 

Sally will tell you that she was not sure what behaviour support strategies were being employed by Afford staff at the day program to assist Jason.  In August 2018, she wrote to the then CEO of Afford to complain about this, following an incident which had occurred resulting in Jason being temporarily suspended from the day program.

Another issue that Sally will address relates to how Afford quoted and billed Jason for the day program services.  She will describe the invoices she saw as "Complicated and difficult to follow", and being issued in a sporadic manner. She had to engage the assistance of a plan manager and later Support Coordinator.  She will say they also struggled to make sense of these invoices.  In addition, Sally will describe how the quotes she was provided from Afford sometimes exceeded the total amount of funds available under Jason's NDIS plan. 

She will say that she felt Jason and other Afford clients were treated as a number, being the value of their NDIS plans.  Sally will also describe what happened when she was informed of the abuse of Jason by Daniel Nuumaalii.  She will talk about the impact of the abuse on Jason and his whole family.  She will say that they felt completely unsupported by Afford during and after the criminal justice process which ensued. 

Finally, Sally will discuss how Jason has benefitted from receiving 1:1 support at home following his departure from the Afford day program in May 2021. 

Let me now move to the second witness for today, Lilly.  Lilly is the mother of Simon who is 26 years old.  Simon lives with Lilly and his father in western Sydney.  He likes being outdoors as well as listening to music and watching movies on his iPad.  Simon lives with intellectual disability and Autism.  He also experiences seizures due to Epilepsy.

In addition to providing care and support to Simon, Lilly worked for many years as a school learning support officer at schools catering for children with disability in the area where she lives.  Through her work, Lilly knew many of the children with whom Simon went to school as well as other children with disability in the area who went on to attend day programs offered by Afford.

Simon began attending the Mount Druitt day program in 2014. The first few years, Lilly was taking him to and picking him up from the day program each day.  She will tell you her observations from when she was at the day program, both with respect to Simon and concerning the supports being provided to the other young people with disability who she knew. 

Lilly will describe her particular concerns about the activities and lack of assistance with skill development that she observed at the day program.  She will characterise the day program as "glorified babysitting".  Lilly will also tell you the quality of services provided at the day program varied over time, often depending on the particular Team Leader and staff at any given time.  She will say that she developed a good rapport with some staff and thought some of the Team Leaders did a great job in the circumstances. 

She will also talk about the impact of the constant turnover of Team Leaders at the Mount Druitt day program, particularly on communication and on resolving any concerns that she raised.  Lilly will talk about a complaint she made in July 2019 following an incident with a Lifestyle Assistant which occurred outside her house.  She will describe her efforts to escalate that complaint. 

Like Sally, Lilly will describe concerns she had about the charges billed to Simon for the day program services and transportation.  In particular, she will talk about how Afford told her Simon needed to receive 1:1 support, but she had no way of knowing what actual level of support he received were. 

In mid 2020 Lilly heard about Daniel Nuumaalii's abuse of participants in the Mount Druitt day program from other families she knew.  She was shocked particularly because Simon had received 1:1 support from Nuumaalii.  She was disappointed that she heard nothing from Afford about the abuse and there was no communication about steps being put in place to prevent something like it from happening again.  In September 2020, Lilly raised several concerns with the new Afford Team Leader about the supports and services being provided to Simon.  While this resulted in some improvements, these were short lived, and when the Team Leader left, Lilly decided to withdraw Simon from the day program. 

She will describe how Simon now receives 1:1 support from a support worker who comes to the house and takes him out for activities.  She will also say how she's been progressing   he has been progressing "in leaps and bounds" since that time. 

I now turn to the third witness for today, Suzie. Suzie and Rob are the parents of Toby who is 22 years old and the youngest of their six children.  Toby, Suzie and Rob live together with their dogs in western Sydney.  Suzie describes Toby as a joker and a smart young man who people often underestimate because he is nonverbal.  Toby lives with Down syndrome and experienced severe bowel problems as a young child, meaning he is now PEG fed.  PEG feeding, Commissioners, relates to a system whereby a flexible feeding tube is placed through the abdominal wall and into the stomach. 

Like Jason and Simon, Toby attended a local high school for students can disability, which he loved.  In 2020 when he was finishing up at school, the family began considering what he would do afterwards and, with Toby, decided that a day program would allow him to make friends and participate in activities with people his own age.  Toby began transitioning to the day program offered by Afford in Mount Druitt in October 2018. After he finished up at school in December 2018 he began attending the day program five days per week. 

He was excited to attend the day program and initially looked forward to the Afford vehicle turning up in the morning to take him there.  Like Sally and Lilly, Suzie will tell you that many of the staff at the Mount Druitt day program were excellent, including some of the Team Leaders.  However, the turnover of Team Leaders and Lifestyle Assistants posed major challenges, particularly with respect to communication between her family and the day program. 

Also, like Sally and Lilly, Suzie and Rob struggled to understand the invoices sent by Afford for services that Toby received.  Suzie will describe the invoices as "inconsistent and confusing", to the extent that she and Rob had to hope that there would be sufficient funds in Toby's NDIS plan to cover them.  She will also say that in the end they lost faith that Toby was actually receiving the services and supports from Afford that his NDIS funding was paying for. 

Toby was among the participants in Mount Druitt program who were abused by Daniel Nuumaalii.  Suzie will tell you of her and Rob's horror when they found out about the abuse and how they developed a deep mistrust of people they did not know being involved in Toby's care.  Suzie will say they never received any written acknowledgement of or apology for the abuse of Toby from the Afford organisation. 

Suzie and Rob finally decided to withdraw Toby from the day program in June 2021 after they received the bill from Afford for activities purportedly done by Toby when he had been on holiday in New Zealand with his family.  Suzie will call this the final straw, and say that "Fundamentally we did not trust Afford to provide safe and quality services to Toby in a way that was transparent to and collaborative with us". 

Can I now move to the other witness proposed to be called during this inquiry. Tomorrow after hearing the evidence of Sally, Lilly and Suzie, we will pick up some of the themes raised in their evidence with two former workers that worked in the Mount Druitt day program.  In order to protect their identity, these two witnesses will be referred to as Dianne and Erynn.

We will deal with Dianne.  Dianne was employed by Afford for nine years.  She will tell you how from a young age she was passionate about working to support people with disability, and how she started out as an Afford Lifestyle Assistant before the introduction of the NDIS.  She will explain how Afford’s day programs operated at a time and will describe some of the exchanges she observed over time.  Dianne will describe her promotion to senior Lifestyle Assistant in 2016 and then swiftly to that of Team Leader. 

She will talk about her transfer from Afford’s Windsor day program to the Mount Druitt day program in early 2018 and some of the difficulties she experienced when starting out as a Team Leader at this latter location.  Dianne will also tell you how the role of Team Leader had many components and how the role expanded over time.  She will say there was a constant pressure for the Mount Druitt day program to increase in numbers, and will discuss the consequences of that growth on both the staff and the participants at that program. 

In particular, Dianne will address the expectation from Afford that Team Leaders would take on substantial administrative and financial responsibilities.  She will say that at times she felt, "The finance related tasks asked of us as Team Leaders required accountancy skills".  She will describe working significant extra hours unpaid in order to deal with paperwork, and rarely having time to work directly with participants in the day program. 

Dianne will go on to tell you about her efforts to raise concerns about the numbers of clients and other aspects of the operation of the Mount Druitt day program with her managers and how they responded.  Finally, Dianne will talk of the impact of the burden at work and how she reached a point in 2019 where she felt she could no longer cope.  Her employment with Afford was then terminated.  Dianne will share her observations and suggestions concerning how the provision of disability services and day programs could be improved through a greater support and assistance to frontline staff. 

The next witness will be Erynn.  Erynn was employed by Afford between 2016 and 2020.  She began as a Lifestyle Assistant at the day program in Mount Druitt, after about a year was promoted to the position of senior Lifestyle Assistant.  Erynn will describe the Mount Druitt day program operated while she worked there and her responsibilities as a Lifestyle Assistant and senior Lifestyle Assistant.  She will tell you about the training she was given and how she felt about Lifestyle Assistant and senior Lifestyle Assistant that were given insufficient training and guidance in relation to the support needs of each participant in the day program. 

Erynn will also tell you about the difficulties she experienced and observed when it came to accessing accurate, up to date information about the support needs of each participant.  She will recall how in early 2019, she and the then Team Leader spent considerable time trying to ensure all the participants' documentation was complete. 

Erynn will also describe the pressures on the staff at the Mount Druitt day program due to the ever increasing number of participants.  Around early 2018, she made a complaint about this to the then district manager.  In addition, Erynn will tell you about the difficulties she experienced through the system of rostering staff to participants in the day program.  She will say there were occasions when the actual ratios of support provided to participants were not the same as what each client was funded to receive under their NDIS plans. 

We will then move to Samantha Taylor.  Samantha Taylor is the current Registrar of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, otherwise known as the NDIS Commission.  Commissioners, as you are aware, Ms Taylor has provided evidence at previous Royal Commission hearings and as the former NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner, Mr Graham Head has also provided evidence.  That evidence, both written and oral, has extensively covered the role and function of the NDIS Commission with respect to registering and auditing disability service providers, receiving and responding to reported incidents and complaints, and taking, where appropriate, compliance and enforcement action. 

For this particular hearing, Ms Taylor has produced under notice a written statement which describes areas, investigations and actions that have been taken by the NDIS Commission, or are in the progress of that happening, with respect to Afford.  This includes, as I mentioned previously, the civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia with respect to the death of Ms Aprem. 

Among the other matters investigated by the NDIS Commission are systemic issues which came to light during inquiries into Ms Aprem's death, and following the publication in 2021 of a media report about Afford by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.  In addition, Ms Taylor will describe the actions taken by the NDIS Commission upon receipt of a reportable incident notification from Afford in May 2020 concerning the abuse perpetrated by Daniel Nuumaalii. 

Finally, Ms Taylor's evidence will traverse the process of approved quality auditing of service providers under the NDIS, assessing their suitability to obtain and maintain registration as a registered NDIS provider against the NDIS practice standards.  She will also give evidence that Afford was subject to a certification audit by SAI Global Certification Services Pty Ltd between February and April 2020, and is currently undergoing its first mid term audit under the same approved quality auditor, SAI. 

Commissioners, I anticipate that on Wednesday morning we will read out portions of a written statement that has been provided for the Royal Commission by a person who will be referred to as Rachel.  Rachel's written evidence was provided under a compulsory notice to give written statement.  She was also required to produce certain documents to the Royal Commission which are referred to in her statement.  Rachel was a former senior executive in Afford.  She worked there until early 2020.  During her period of employment, she worked closely with other members of the senior executive team, including the former chief executive officer of Afford, Mr Steven Herald. 

In order to protect her identity, I will not describe all parts of Rachel's written evidence, nor will her entire statement be read out during the hearing.  Among the matters that are set out in the statement, Rachel describes the Afford bonus scheme which you will hear referred to as PACES.  Through PACES, the scheme awarded staff for meeting a set of compliance related targets.  Commissioners, PACES stands for Afford internal audit and review process, person centredness, attitude, customer service, efficiency and standards.  I mention in passing it's extraordinary in this sector of our community how often the English language is violated in order to obtain a catchy acronym. 

Rachel also describes how during the period of her employment with Afford, there was significant emphasis on growth and its financial sustainability, which was an integral part of the organisational culture at the time.  The main thrust of Rachel's evidence relates to her increasing concern in 2018 flowing into 2019 and early 2020 about the safety and quality of the services being provided to Afford’s clients. 

As I have alluded to already, these concerns became particularly acute following the death of Merna Aprem in 2019. The internal and external investigations which were conducted in relation to Ms Aprem's death revealed a number of compliance matters that alarmed Rachel.  She brought them to the attention of the then CEO and others at Afford.  Eventually in December 2019, Rachel decides she had to raise her concerns with members of the Afford Board.  She sent them a document that we've referred to as a disclosure report, along with a number of attachments. 

Following this, Rachel's professional relationship with the then CEO deteriorated swiftly, and by February 2020 she was on medical leave due to stress.  She learned that complaints had been recently made against her by colleagues which was the subject of an investigation.  Rachel ultimately decided to tender her resignation from Afford. 

Commissioners, there are many matters raised by Rachel's disclosure report to the Board, some of which were the subject of evidence from Mr Mike Allen, the current Board Chair later in the week.  We are alive to the sensitivities involved, and note that it’s not for the Royal Commission to examine some of the issues relating to complaints and disputes involving Rachel and the former CEO of Afford.  However, when a staff member of a disability service provider like Afford raises serious concerns about the safety and quality of services being provided to people with disability, it is open to the Royal Commission to examine the manner in which those concerns were responded to and acted upon. 

Can I take this opportunity to refer to witness protections applying to this Royal Commission.  I’d like to take the opportunity at this point to remind everyone following this hearing that protections Afford to Royal Commission witnesses. Section 6D of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 Commonwealth make it an offence for:

“Any person to publish information that might enable the identification of a witness who is the subject of a Royal Commission direction.” 

That includes all witnesses branded pseudonyms at this hearing. 

The second, section 6M of the Royal Commissions Act makes it an offence for:

“Any person to use, cause or inflict any violence, punishment, damage, loss or disadvantage to a witness who has provided evidence to the Royal Commission for or on account of that evidence.” 

I now move to the Afford witnesses.  Commissioners in 2020 and earlier this year the Royal Commission issued Afford with two notices to give information seeking responses to a series of questions on issues relevant to our inquiries.  The written responses provided will be spoken to at this hearing by three witnesses from Afford, Mr Mike Allen, the chairman of the Board, Ms Joanne Toohey, chief executive officer since October 2021 and Mr Wayne Adamson, the executive manager of lifestyle centres. 

In addition, Mr Allen, Ms Toohey and Mr Adamson have provided brief written statements in preparation for this hearing.  We will hear oral evidence first from Mr Adamson who was previously the district manager responsible for the Mount Druitt day program.  After Mr Adamson's evidence we will hear from Mr Allen and Ms Toohey together.  Can I indicate, Commissioners, the reason for hearing their evidence together is because Ms Toohey has only recently joined the organisation.  It's anticipated that their joint evidence might provide better and more relevant coverage for the relevant period we're looking at. 

Commissioners, in his statement Mr Adamson acknowledges that when he became executive manager of lifestyle centres in August 2021, there were clear issues, problems and gaps in the systems, processes and procedures relating to safety compliance and organisational culture.  We will be exploring these issues, gaps and problems with Mr Adamson through the lens of the Mount Druitt day program and the experiences of Jason, Simon and Toby and their families.  We will also discuss several other incidents and events that occurred at the day program and the manner in which they were dealt with by Afford.

Before joining Afford, Ms Toohey had an extensive career in the aged care, child, youth and family care and disability services sector.  Ms Toohey will describe her observations on commencing the role of Afford CEO in October 2021.  She will discuss the steps she has taken to address the areas she identified as requiring improvement, being policy and procedure, quality, risk, compliance and safeguarding, practice, auditing, complaints processes, and the executive structure.  It does suggest that no area will be left untouched, Commissioners.

We will explore with her the measures she has implemented and the impact of those measures so far to address these broad areas of improvement. 

And finally, Mr Allen has been a member of Afford’s Board of directors since 2015.  He now serves as the Chair of the Board.  Mr Allen will discuss the governance structures in place in the Board since he joined the Board in 2015 and the role and responsibilities of the Board to ensure the safety and quality of services provided by Afford to its clients. 

Commissioners, we will explore with Mr Allen the development and implementation of Afford’s strategic plans, the involvement of the Board in pursuing the organisation's growth, and also discuss, of course, approaches to risk, particularly the assessment and management of the risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of its clients. 

We will also explore with Mr Allen the matters that were being reported to Afford’s Board by its CEO and other executive managers as well as the actions taken in response to written and oral reports provided to the Board for its monthly meetings.  Among these matters was a proposal for a support governance framework put forward by a member of the Board following the death of Ms Aprem and the concerns expressed by Rachel in her protected disclosure about the safety and quality of Afford’s services and in relation to issues of compliance. 

Can I summarise.  Commissioners, we will be examining incidents and issues connected with the provision of services by Afford in the recent past.  We will also be discussing what Afford has learned from those incidents and issues, and most importantly, the changes that have been introduced recently or are in programs to try and improve the quality of services. 

You will hear some witnesses and receive some documents which refer to previous culture of "box ticking" when it came to issues of compliance within Afford.  You will also hear about the impact of a disability service provider pursuing a corporate approach and prioritising growth and financial performance over other matters. 

Commissioners, we will not suggest that disability service providers should not take steps to maintain their financial sustainability, nor will we suggest that the service providers should never expand.  However, we will examine how the risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability might increase when growth and financial matters are given top priority. 

I'd like to emphasise that this hearing is not about one person within Afford, nor is it about specific complaints and allegations made concerning former members of its senior executive team.  Our focus is on Afford as an organisation and whether, as an organisation, there may have been failures to prevent or respond appropriately to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability for whom it provided services. 

We intend to build upon the previous work of the Royal Commission, particularly the Commission's report on  Public hearing 13 which was delivered last month.  I note in particular the observations made in that report about the importance of disability service providers listening to and working with people with disability to whom they provide services and listening to and working with their families and supporters.  This issue will be highlighted again during the course of the week. 

On a more mundane level, can I just speak briefly about procedural fairness and the tendering of documents. Commissioners, you are committed to ensuring that this hearing is conducted fairly and that Afford and every other former member of the staff referred to by name in this hearing should have the opportunity to be heard and respond to the issues we examine. 

Chair, you will make directions at the conclusion of the hearing as to how you wish Counsel Assisting to prepare any written or oral submissions on the evidence and how parties with leave to appear and others may respond to any findings proposed in the Counsel Assisting submissions.  In addition, as has been the case in previous service provider hearings, the Royal Commission has received extensive documentary records in the course of preparing for this hearing.  Some of these records will be discussed during the hearing. 

However, formal tendering of documents into evidence will be done following the conclusion of the oral presentation of the evidence this week.  This will allow for any redactions that need to be made in order to protect the identity of any person requiring that protection, and to address any other concern raised by any relevant party.  All this will occur prior to the public release of the documents. 

Thank you, Commissioners. It may be appropriate to adjourn briefly.

CHAIR:  Yes, thank you, Mr Griffin.  In order to avoid mass confusion in the hearing room, I should say something about what happens on an adjournment.  This Royal Commission, the practice we have adopted at  Public hearings is that when we adjourn the Commissioners are able to do so, stand and give a little bow.  That usually induces the legal representatives who are present to, if they can, do so and they bow, and that is because they are very good at bowing, and they spend much of their professional lives doing that.  As far as the members in the audience are concerned, you are entirely free to stand or not as you wish and to bow or not as you wish, as deeply as you wish or as shallow as you wish.  We shall now adjourn.



CHAIR:  We'll give everybody a moment to return.  Yes, Mr Fogarty, I think that we might resume proceedings. 

MR FOGARTY:  Yes, thank you, Chair.  Chair, the first witness today is Sally, a pseudonym, her son is Jason as you've heard from Mr Griffin SC, also a pseudonym.  The Royal Commission will hear that Jason attended Afford’s Mount Druitt program from 2017 to 2021.  Sally has signed a statement dated 26 April 2022 and that can be found in hearing bundle A behind tab 1.

CHAIR:  Yes.  Thank you.  Just before we continue, I understand there's an appearance for Sally; is that right?

MS HUNTER:  Yes, I appear for Sally.

CHAIR:  Yes. Thank you very much. Sally thank you very much for coming to the Royal Commission to give evidence today. We very much appreciate your attendance. If you would be good enough to follow the instructions of my Associate. He will administer the affirmation to you. If you just follow what he asks you to do. Thank you. 



CHAIR:  Thank you, Sally, very much.  Now, Mr Fogarty will ask you some questions.  Just in case you're not aware   you may have been here   but on my right is Commissioner McEwin and on my left is Commissioner Bennett, and we are the three Commissioners sitting on this hearing. 

SALLY:  Yes.

CHAIR:  I will now turn it over to Mr Fogarty.

MR FOGARTY: Thank you, Chair.  Sally, I'll start by asking some questions about Jason so that the Royal Commission gets to understand him better.  Also if there's any time you need a break, we will be asking you some questions that may require you to take a pause, please just let me know. 

SALLY:  I will. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  Jason now 24 years old?

SALLY:  Yes he is. 

MR FOGARTY:  He's a First Nations man?

SALLY:  Yes, he is.

MR FOGARTY:   And he lives at home with yourself and Dad? 

SALLY:  Yes.

MR FOGARTY:   He's also very close with his sister, Nicola, a pseudonym?

SALLY:  Yes,  very close

MR FOGARTY:  I note for the benefit of the Royal Commission that Nicola is here today supporting you and her brother.  Jason too, in your statement, was very close to his grandmother?

SALLY:  He was.

MR FOGARTY:  She provided a lot of support for both him and yourself and the family?

SALLY:  Yes.

MR FOGARTY:   For many years and she sadly passed in 2020?

SALLY:  Yes.

MR FOGARTY:   He would sometimes stay with her, and she would sometimes assist if he needed to be picked up or dropped?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Dropped off from the Afford day program?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Can I ask you to describe to the Royal Commission Jason.  Who is Jason?  Words to describe him?

SALLY:  He's generally a happy young man.  He loves his water.  He loves being outside.  He likes music.  He loves his family.  He loves his iPad.  He uses a program, Proloquo2Go, to communicate as well as other communications such as a sniff for yes.  He'll push your hand away if he doesn't want something.  He's basically the light of our lives.  Our world revolves around him and he's now coming back to what he used to be.  It has taken a   a long while.  He still has many twitches, doesn't like people being loud in front of him.  He'll cover your mouth.  Generally, that's him. 

MR FOGARTY:  You've provided the Royal Commission, and for the benefit of the Commission, there's some photos. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  One shows Jason out with his one on one support worker at the river. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  I think that's from last year. Another with his sister, reading.  Them both reading together. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And the last one, and these are in hearing bundle A tabs 2 to 4, Jason at Flip Out trampolining, also with his 1:1 support worker. 

SALLY:  Yes.

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. Jason lives with Autism and intellectual disability?

SALLY:  Yes, he does, yes.

MR FOGARTY:   And what support these days does he need, in a broad sense?

SALLY:  Personal care. 


SALLY:  So showering, toileting, dressing, brushing of his teeth, washing of his hair, washing himself.  And then he needs just general help in everyday life.  To cross   we wouldn't allow him outside by himself, you know.  He needs to have someone to cross a road.  He needs someone to be with him 24/7. 


SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  The personal care you referred to, that provided by his 1:1 support worker?

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And that's covered under his NDIS funding?

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  Is that seven days a week or is that Monday to Friday?

SALLY: No, it's Monday to Friday. 

MR FOGARTY:  Jason attended the Afford Mount Druitt program from 2021; is that right?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And he transitioned the year before when he was in year 12?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And he remained there until mid 2021. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Since then, you referred to he has 1:1 support.

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  We'll come back to discuss that a little more later.  When he was attending the Afford day program from 2017, was it five days per week?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Monday to Friday?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And I think at that time, Nicola was living at home with   

SALLY:  She was. 

MR FOGARTY:  With yourself and with Dad and all of you were working full time?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  You've worked as a support officer and an SLSO?

SALLY:  Yes.

MR FOGARTY:  Do you still perform that work?

SALLY:  Yes, I do and I also have a contract with the Department of Education for assist school travel for children with disabilities. 


SALLY:  Is in between. 

MR FOGARTY:  Work is with the department as well?

SALLY:  Yes, it is. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. Were you a   sorry, I withdraw that. Were you ever an SLSO at Jason's school?

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  No.  Alright.  In terms of Jason's schooling, I think he went from   in your statement you refer to ages four to 19. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  How would you describe his high schooling and the outcomes?

SALLY:  He enjoyed it.  The outcomes were great.  His teachers work with him on every level.  They helped with his Proloquo2Go.  They used the board maker with flash cards. 


SALLY:  They taught him how to swim, how to shop.  He would go occasionally bowling.  So   and yeah, he seemed to make strides at school. 

MR FOGARTY:  In 2016, the NDIS came in for Jason?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And I think you or he received support, and you, in the family assistance from Gilgai Aboriginal Centre. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Was that support coordination in terms of the NDIS plan?

SALLY:  No, just plan management.


SALLY:  Yes.  They were actually on board with us before the NDIS came in so we chose to stay with them because they gave us so much support. 

MR FOGARTY:  Did they provide advocacy support for Jason?

SALLY:  They did but they weren't paid for that. 

MR FOGARTY:  I see. 

SALLY:  That was just something they did to help. 

MR FOGARTY:  And I think we'll come to this in your statement in your evidence, they became intimately involved in reviewing invoicing and billing. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  That Afford was engaged in with you and Jason. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Do Gilgai still support Jason?

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  There was a handover at some stage I think in terms of support coordination.

CHAIR:  You mention in your statement that you bought Jason an iPad and installed the app.  Can you just explain to us how the app works and the relationship of the communication?

SALLY:  The app, it's called Proloquo2Go and what it does is, we can put in our own photos or use their photos, and Jason can also type on it and it will speak for him.  So say he needs a shower, he'll get his iPad and he'll just press the little flash card that says shower and then he   it will say it for him.

CHAIR:  Thank you. 

MR FOGARTY:  And that was first used in   was that used in high school for Jason?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  The decision was made for Jason to attend a day program.  How did you   how did the family and Jason reach that decision?

SALLY:  Well, we knew that we couldn't give up work and we all worked long hours. 


SALLY:  So when   when it come to that time, the school would refer services that they either knew of or   I don't know how the school come about that, but we were sort of leant towards Afford 


SALLY:  Because of the hours that they could do and the services they provided 

MR FOGARTY:   And their day program, how far away from home was it at the time?

SALLY:  Maybe one K. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. And that was   an appeal as well?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  What did you hope Jason would get out of the day program?

SALLY:  I hoped that he would learn to socialise more, to do activities that he enjoyed. 


SALLY:  Learn just simple things, like maybe to use an air fryer or to cook or   mainly the socialising. 


SALLY:  Because I think it's important. 


SALLY:  You know, they   he sees his sister go and socialise, and at some stages there I would watch him and he would see her go out and come back and I used to think to myself, is he thinking, "Well, why can't I do that?"

MR FOGARTY:  That was a big part of the day program for him and also, I think you say, using an air fryer, so building life skills?

SALLY:  Just building skills, yes, yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  He attended the Cherrywood site as well?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  What was at the Cherrywood site?

SALLY:  They had   it seemed to be a more open space, so swimming pool, I think there was animals there. 


SALLY:  And I think that he could use, like, the hose to water the garden. 

MR FOGARTY:  I see. And that was an Afford site as well. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Did you yourself attend the Cherrywood site as well?

SALLY:  I never went to Cherrywood, no.  His dad did.

MR FOGARTY:  What about the Mount Druitt site before he started there, did you   

SALLY:  Before he started there, yes, I think we went there   I think it was three or four times. 

MR FOGARTY:  And what impression did you   

SALLY:  It looked nice, it looked inviting.  They had a nice backyard.  Every time he'd go there, the clients were, like, playing music and seemed to be enjoying themselves. 

MR FOGARTY:  This was the Paull Street address. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  It was later on the centre moved; correct?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Jason also received personal care in the mornings from Afford?

SALLY:  Yes, he did, yes.

MR FOGARTY:  And then picked up by an Afford mini bus to the day program and also brought back in the afternoon; is that right?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Was there a set schedule in terms of personal care and then pick up each day?

SALLY:  What do you mean?

MR FOGARTY:  Perhaps let's say from 2017 when he started, was there a schedule that may have changed over time?  Was there a time that the personal care would start and end?

SALLY:  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Because of my contract in the Department of Education, that depended on the run that I had, so they could start at quarter past 6 in the morning, anywhere up to 7, quarter to 7. 

MR FOGARTY:  So what time would a personal care support person come sometimes?

SALLY:  Quarter past 6. 

MR FOGARTY:  What about the transport   the bus?

SALLY:  I was never there. I'm pretty sure they used to come between 8 and 8.30.  That's what I was told. 

MR FOGARTY:  And Nicola when she was still living at home would often be the person who did the handover in a sense?

SALLY:  No, she would be gone as well.  It would be the person doing the personal care. 

MR FOGARTY:  They would stay with Jason. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Until the transport came.  I see.  Would the personal care support person   they wouldn't transport  

SALLY:  Later on   sometimes I think they did, yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. 

SALLY:  Because they would turn up in an Afford RV vehicle. 

MR FOGARTY:  Afford had service agreements for Jason and the family; is that correct?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And those agreements had quotes for their services?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Rates and cost so to speak. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  What else do you recall was in those agreements?   Do you recall other parts of those agreements?

CHAIR:  Mr Fogarty, which time are we talking of and which agreements are we talking?  I think there might have been different agreements, different times possibly. 

MR FOGARTY:  Yes, Chair.  If the witness might be shown, or if we can have on screen for the witness, the 2018 service agreement, behind hearing bundle A, tab 13. Sally, you see that document there?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  You see at the bottom there's a reference to 2018. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And if I take the   if I go two pages over to page 3 of 12, the very top, 3.1 reads:

"The agreement will commence on 17 May 2019 for the period of 52 weeks and will end on 16 May 2020."

So this is a 2019 service agreement?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Do you recall   I won't take you to the part, but do you recall whether there is information in that service agreement about feedback by families or clients?

SALLY:  No.  There may be but no, I don't. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  Do you recall this agreement in particular?

SALLY:  Yes.  This is the    one. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. Might I take   if I could ask to go to the last page   

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:    of this document.  I apologise.  I'll probably jump around different pages here. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And you see some handwritten  

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  It says:

"Changing amount to original S/A amount to $117,524.24 until new plan manage meeting.  Just to have correct info on site to cover Jason's support until new plan."

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Your signature is on that last page?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Do you know who wrote that handwriting at the bottom?

SALLY:  It was the Team Leader at the time. 

CHAIR:  Sorry, can I   I'm trying to follow the chronology. When did Jason start at the day care centre?

SALLY:  2017.

CHAIR:  Right.  This document we're looking at says the agreement will commence on 17 May 2019.  Was this the first service agreement?


CHAIR:  That you entered into?


CHAIR:  So there was one, was there 

SALLY:  Yes.

CHAIR:   in about 2017.  Okay.  This agreement on the last page seems to say that it was signed on 3 December 2020.  I don't know whether Mr Fogarty is going to ask you about that, but that postdates  

SALLY:  Yes.

CHAIR:    by a long way the commencement of the agreement.  Do you have any recollection of the timing. 

SALLY:  I know it was in the January school holidays.  I know that for sure because the document was handed   hand delivered to my home on New Year's Eve.

CHAIR:  New Year's Eve being the evening before  

SALLY:  Yes.

CHAIR:    2020. 

SALLY:  Yes.

CHAIR:  So this is an agreement, as far as you understand it, that actually commenced well before  

SALLY:  Yes.

CHAIR:    the date it was signed. 

SALLY:  Yes.

CHAIR:  Okay.  I understand.  Thank you. 

MR FOGARTY:  Are you able to explain why it was, in my words, a gap in timing?

SALLY:  No.  Not at all.  Team Leader maybe looked at   I can't say.  I can't say what the Team Leader's thoughts were. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. 

SALLY:  Yeah. 

MR FOGARTY:  Do you recall the earlier service agreements?  Do you recall those agreements?

SALLY:  I do, yes, I recall them. 

MR FOGARTY:  Were they similar to this agreement?

SALLY:  They looked exactly the same. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  Do you recall whether at the time you received this agreement you were   the Afford officer offered to explain the terms to you?

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  What about the one before then?

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  This one you say was brought to your home by a Team Leader. 

SALLY:  The senior. 

MR FOGARTY:  Senior Lifestyle Assistant. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  What about earlier agreements?  How would you receive those, do you recall?

SALLY:  They would be put in Jason's bag. 

MR FOGARTY:  Jason's bag, I see. 

SALLY:  Or emailed, but there were maybe one email. 

MR FOGARTY:  One email to you.  Alright.  Was your contact with the day program usually the Team Leader?

SALLY:  Yes 

MR FOGARTY:   Was it ever anyone else that would contact you, from recollection. 

SALLY:  Maybe a few times the senior. 

MR FOGARTY:  Lifestyle Assistant. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Was it your understanding the Team Leader was above in a sense?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Or had the senior Lifestyle Assistant reported to them?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  If I might take you back to page 3 of 12, just to look at some of the terms of this agreement.  Midway down it refers to cost and payment terms, and I will read this to you:

"5.1. The cost of the services which Afford agree to provide to the participant ... the cost."

Did you understand that the quote, Sally, in this document would set out all the costs and fees for Jason?

SALLY:  Yes, that's what I assumed. 

MR FOGARTY:  Underneath that 5.2, again I'll read it to you:

"The parties agree that Afford ... support items (and price limits) because Afford is or will be before December 2019 become compliant with the TTP terms."

Did you know what the TTP was?

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  Do you know what it is now?

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  Did anyone at Afford explain to you what that was?

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  If we could turn to the next page, page 4 of 12, there's a clause there, 5.9:

"If the cost of the services or the amount of funding available for any of the services appearing in the quote is increased during the term, the parties agree that Afford will be entitled to amend the quote to reflect the increase in the cost and to immediately charge the increased cost for the services in full."

That wasn't a term that was explained to you?


MR FOGARTY:   And then the next clause, 5.10:

"The participant agrees to be personally liable to Afford for the cost of the services if the participant has overspent their NDIA funds."

That wasn't a term brought to your attention?

SALLY:  No.  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  Do you understand, when I read that to you, what that means?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.   And do you have any   what's your reaction to that clause?

SALLY:  Well, amazed actually, because I couldn't afford that. 

MR FOGARTY:  Was there ever a time where you were concerned or the family was concerned that NDIS funding would be exhausted?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  If  

CHAIR:  Sally, the service agreement has the quote, if you go to   

SALLY:  Yes.

CHAIR:    page 9 of 12, and then there are three pages, and at the end there's a figure of 173,878. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

CHAIR:  Do you have an understanding of what that figure refers to?

SALLY:  The personal care and the day program, as far as I knew.  And that's when I just   they told me, basically, if I didn't sign it Jason would be suspended until I signed it.  And then I tried to ring the Team Leader over and over.  Never got contacted, so I just turned up and said to them, "That's outlandish, his plan's not even that big", and that's when she said to me, "Don't worry, I'll come to a meeting with you and we'll get it adjusted". And I said "No, no, that won't happen".

CHAIR:  The quotation, as you can see from page 9, refers to a period from 17 May 2019 to 16 May 2020.  Do you see that just under the heading Quotation?

SALLY:  Yes.

CHAIR:  If the documents   and it's always possible, of course, that something that's signed in December of any given year has the people anticipating the next year and might put the wrong date in, but it's a little strange that we've got 3 December 2020.  But let's assume it was signed around about January 2020.  Was there any explanation that you can think of as to why you were given a quotation that relates to a period of seven months or so prior to the date the quotation was given to you?

SALLY:  No.  No.

CHAIR:  No doubt this is something Mr Fogarty may wish to explore in due course. 

MR FOGARTY:  Was your concern, Sally, in terms of that $173,000 amount that I think you said that at the time it exceeded his NDIS plan?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  And is it the case the $117,000 figure that's referred to on the last page, was that an agreement by the Afford officer to reduce 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:    effectively that total amount that the Chair just referred you to. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And that amount of $117,000, was that within the relevant NDIS plan funding?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. 

SALLY:  It was, I think, a couple of dollars over, a few, yeah. 

MR FOGARTY:  And was that agreement by Afford to reduce that amount based on things that you and Gilgai at the time were saying to them?

SALLY:  Yes.  Yes, and I was quite distressed because I was due to go back to work and thinking, what do I do if I don't have a service for Jason? 

MR FOGARTY:  Yes, and I think you said there was evidence that they said to you or concern that he would be suspended. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  If the agreement wasn't signed. 

SALLY:  Yes.

CHAIR:  I think Commissioner Bennett has 

MR FOGARTY:  Yes, Commissioner Bennett.

COMMISSIONER BENNETT:  When they adjusted it from 117   to 117,000 to fit the plan from 173, did you get a sense that they were going to go less, or did they just change the price?

SALLY:  She just changed the price.  She said okay then, we'll just put it down to the 117. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT:  So there was no sense of less of this or a reduction of something else?

SALLY:  No, not at all. 


MR FOGARTY:  Just for clarity, is the person you were negotiating with, was that still the senior life assistant or was it a Team Leader?

SALLY:  No, it was a Team Leader. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  If I can take to you page 5 of 12, there's a clause there headed Rights and Responsibilities of the Parties.  Just 7.2, just towards the bottom says:

"Afford agree to  "

Then if you turn the page there's a couple of Roman numerals I'd like to ask you about.  Roman numeral (iv) on page 6 of 12 says:

"Afford agree to provide information to the participant with respect to the cost of additional services not included in the quote but which are necessary to meet the participant's goal, (eg) the cost of entrance fees, plan tickets and meals."

There were some of those expenses and fees  

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:    that were asked of you, and the family paid for those?

SALLY:  Yes, of course. 

MR FOGARTY:  The next (v) says:

"Afford agree to communicate openly and honestly and seek to respond to feedback and complaints in a timely manner in accordance with the terms of the agreement."

Was that your experience?

SALLY:  No.  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  The next sub Roman numeral(vi),.

    "Afford agree to consult the participant about decision on how services are provided."

Was that your experience with Afford?

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  Lastly (ix):

"Afford agree keep accurate records of the support provided to participants."

Did you on occasion request records about Jason from the Board?

SALLY:  Yes, I did.  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Did you receive those records?

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  I see.  Chair, if we could move, please, to page 10 of 12, back to the landscape quote, or quotation page.  Thank you.  The Chair referred to the period as 17 May 2019 to 16 May 2020.  In the first row refers to, and first column is says:

"Core supports and assistance with daily life."

Is that personal care, is that what you understood?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And then under that:

"Core supports assistance with social and community participation."

You understood that to be the day program. 

SALLY:  The day program.  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And then the fourth column across:

"Frequency requested, two and a half hours per day, this is for core supports in respect of personal care, five days per week, equals 12.5 hours per week, 52 weeks."

Did Jason in this year attend   did he attend 52 weeks per year?

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  In any of the years he was there?

SALLY:  No.  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  And underneath that, similarly you see in the fourth column with the day program, six hours per day times five days per week equals 30 hours per week times 52 weeks, and then there was a figure of the total hours. 

SALLY:  Mm hmm. 

MR FOGARTY:  So the assumption there is that for 52 weeks of the year, he attends five days a week for six hours, the day program, but your recollection is, he didn't. 

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  For 52 weeks a year. 

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  Was the day service available for 52 weeks of the year when he was there?

SALLY:  They closed down for Christmas, they closed down a week every year for staff to do   I don't know, whatever staff did. 

MR FOGARTY:  Was the Christmas break a week?

SALLY:  Two, I believe. Could have been three. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  If we could turn to the next page, please, which is page 10 of 12, the bottom   I think that's 11 of 12.  Thank you.  The bottom row, far left column says:

"Not NDIS funded support s."

Then if you work your way across:

    "Support item reference number N/A." 

SALLY:  Yes. 


    "Afford service support requested, daily contribution fee to attend day program."

Next one:

    "Payable upon attendance, price quote, dollar sign amount varies per activity."

And then:

    "Total dollar sign per day (includes contribution to activity costs but also includes costs for overheads)."

Did the Team Leader explain this part of the quotation to you?

SALLY:  No.  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  Did Jason pay a daily contribution fee, to your knowledge?

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  If we move to the next page, page 11, this is the last part of the quotation.  The entry here is:

"Non NDIS chargeable item  " 

Support item reference number varies, Afford service/requested varies then frequency requested, 78 cents per kilometre up to 15 kilometres travel, price/quote to be invoiced to the participant monthly.  Did you understand that to be a fee for the transport?

SALLY:  When Jason first started, we paid for transport out of his pension, and then it was put into the NDIS funding. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. 

SALLY:  I don't know when that changed over. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  So, when you say it was Centrelink payments, does that come out directly or   

SALLY:  No, I paid it. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  I see.  Jason attended Club Afford, didn't he?

SALLY:  Yes, he did.

MR FOGARTY:  What in short was Club Afford?

SALLY:  They would go out on a Saturday to different activities. 

MR FOGARTY:  It was still part of Afford. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Were there separate fees for Club Afford, do you recall?

SALLY:  It went under his NDIS, it was a separate charge for the day, and then I just gave him spending money or   for the activity or whatever he  

MR FOGARTY:  Entrance fees, depending on what they were up to. Alright.  And how long did Jason attend Club Afford?

SALLY:  I can't   I can't remember exactly how long. 

MR FOGARTY:  Is it the whole time he  

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  Why did he stop attending Club Afford?

SALLY:  Because our funding was running out. 

MR FOGARTY:  So you were concerned it would run out and he wouldn't be able to go when the family was working. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  What was your impression of Jason when he would go to Club Afford?  Did he enjoy it?

SALLY:  He seemed to come home happy most times, yes, except for one time, well, Afford didn't tell me about this incident. I was at a friend's birthday party and a person walked up to me and said, "You're Jason's Mum?", and I said "Yes", and she said, "Do you know that the Afford worker fell asleep in the car with Jason on the weekend, on Saturday?"

MR FOGARTY:  I see. 

SALLY:  And I approached the Team Leader after that to find out what happened. 

MR FOGARTY:  And what did the Team Leader do or say?

SALLY:  Yes, "That happened, we've moved that worker on now." 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. 

SALLY:  I didn't get an incident report. That was it. That was it. 

MR FOGARTY:  In your statement you set out   I'd just like to touch upon it and come to it in more detail   a list of concerns that started to, in my words, grow for you. Firstly, concerns around inconsistent morning personal care?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And also the transport pick up time. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Second, concern around staff ratios and support?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Because Jason started at one to three?

SALLY:  He did. He did. 

MR FOGARTY:  But he later became one to one?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And that was reflected in his NDIS funding?

CHAIR:  Can we work out the timing, is that possible? When did it change; do you know?

SALLY:  I tried to work it out and I can't exactly remember. I know it was maybe   maybe a year into, or even before the year he was there.

CHAIR:  Okay. 

MR FOGARTY:  I think we might come to that. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  In August 2014. Concern around a lack of choice for activity was another concern?

SALLY:  Yes.

MR FOGARTY:   Or additional activities fee you pay. 

SALLY:  Yes.

MR FOGARTY:   And an account for those fees, that is you weren't receiving receipts or itemised accounts for the money you were providing for him?

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  The other concern I think you talk about is the lack of communication or very little communication from Afford to you about Jason?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  What he was doing at the centre?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Who was supporting him?

SALLY:  Mm hmm. 

MR FOGARTY:  You also had concerns around behaviour support?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And whether his behaviour support plan   he had a behaviour support plan?

SALLY:  Yes, he did. 

MR FOGARTY:  Whether that was being implemented?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. We've also touched upon this, I think. Another concern you had was quoting invoicing   

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:    against Jason's NDIS funding?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And last, and most significantly perhaps, is that Jason was abused by Daniel Nuumaalii. 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Turning to the personal care concerns, I think you've touched upon those. Was it the case that on occasion the personal care person wouldn't attend or    

SALLY:  Yes. Yes. I'd be needing to go to work and I would call the Team Leader. Sometimes it could have been 10, 15, up to 20 times in the morning and they just wouldn't answer their phone. 

MR FOGARTY:  And what effect would that have on Jason?

SALLY:  Well, he'd be distressed. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. 

SALLY:  Because he's very routine, and when the routine wasn't going as per normal, he'd get distressed. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. Do you recall whether   moving on to the choice of activities, whether Jason was ever offered choice in terms of activities?

SALLY:  Not that I can recall. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. 

SALLY:  I do recall getting a list for Club Afford on what they were doing on the weekend, but not day program. 

MR FOGARTY:  Sorry, I should just clarify, Club Afford was only a Saturday. 

SALLY:  On a Saturday. 

MR FOGARTY:  About how many hours?

SALLY:  I think we dropped him off about 9 and picked him back up 3 or 4 o'clock. 

MR FOGARTY:  This is at the Minchinbury office? 

SALLY:  It started at McDonald's at Minchinbury when he first started and then moved over to the office. 

MR FOGARTY:  You provided some additional activity fees and   sorry, you met those. Was that by handing money to Jason to take with him or how did you    

SALLY:  Yes, I just put it in the front of his backpack. 

MR FOGARTY:  And did you receive receipts for that?

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  And how much roughly might that be?

SALLY:  $20. 

MR FOGARTY:  I see. And that would be for Club Afford or for the day program as well?

SALLY:  Both.  Like, if he needed money for Club Afford I'd put it in there if he needed it. Now, I'll just say, sorry, I'll say with a couple of the lifestyle workers, he   I did get receipts for meals. 


SALLY:  But it wasn't consistent. 

MR FOGARTY:  I see. Did Jason have a choice in who supported him at the day program?

SALLY:  There   there was a choice in such that there was   it started off where he could have many different workers and then it sort of slimmed down to the workers that they would let Jason have, yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  How   would you go down to the centre yourself to   

SALLY:  I'd have to go to the centre. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. 

SALLY:  I would have to   I would have to go to the centre. I was told by the CEO that I was known to be the parent that just turned up. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. And why would you turn up?  What reason?

SALLY:  Concern. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. And had you tried to contract   

SALLY:  Yes. Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:    the Team Leader?

SALLY:  Yes.  Many times.

MR FOGARTY:  By telephone?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Were there any regular meetings with family?

SALLY:  No, there was meetings only when I'd asked for meetings or my plan manager would say, "I think that we need to meet with them and try and sort this out." 

MR FOGARTY:  So meetings were prompted   

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:    entirely by yourself or the plan manager?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Were you ever invited by Afford to give client feedback or    feedback?

SALLY:  No. No. 

MR FOGARTY:  Can I just clarify:  there were some occasions, weren't there, where Jason exhibited behaviour of concern?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And were there times where you were called to come and pick Jason up?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Did you   what happened   well, I withdraw that. Did you ever ask for incident reports about those?

SALLY:  Yes, I did. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright.  And there was, I think in your statement, you refer to an occasion where Jason headbutted a wall at the Cherrywood site? 

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And an ambulance was called?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Did you ask for incident report into that?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Was one provided?


CHAIR:  Who did you ask?

SALLY:  The Team Leader.  Always the Team Leader.

CHAIR:  By telephone?  In person?

SALLY:  Yes.  By telephone, yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Jason was there for approximately four to five years?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  Did the Team Leader change?

SALLY:  Many times 

MR FOGARTY:   Alright. Were you told   were you informed by Afford?

SALLY:  No. 

MR FOGARTY:  How did you find that out?

SALLY:  You'd make a phone call and you were told that this is the new Team Leader. 


SALLY:  Or you'd turn up there and there was a different Team Leader. 

MR FOGARTY:  A communication book was used at one stage   

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:    wasn't it, with Jason and Afford. What is a communication book, as you understand it?

SALLY:  It was a A4 size and it had like a diary, and it also had flash cards. So there was sections for them to stick on   on what Jason had done that day, or for Jason to ask for things with his flash cards. 

MR FOGARTY:  Had he used one of those or had one of those been used when he was    

SALLY:  The whole time he was at school. 

MR FOGARTY:  When he was at school. Right. Comparing the experiences, what   how did   what was your experience with the communications book with Afford?

SALLY:  It only lasted while that one Team Leader was there. 

MR FOGARTY:  In the four to five years that he was there?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And how long roughly would that everybody?

SALLY:  Very short. That was after there was an incident where   the one where they suspended Jason.

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. And that's where it was informed of you that a worker had gone on workers compensation?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And you were also told, weren't you, that two other workers had gone on workers compensation?

SALLY:  Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And that was the first time you'd ever heard   

SALLY:  First time.

MR FOGARTY:   that there had been those behaviours?

SALLY:  Yes.

MR FOGARTY:   Did you ask for incident reports for those?

SALLY:  Yes, I did. 

MR FOGARTY:  Did you receive any?


CHAIR: Again, you asked the Team Leader. 

SALLY: Yes, I did. Actually, with that one, I actually sent an email to the CEO at the time as well. 

MR FOGARTY: The behaviour support plan that Jason had, was there one that was provided when he transitioned across from school? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Did Afford offer to update that or review that? 


MR FOGARTY: Did you seek to have an updated one? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: How did you arrange that? 

SALLY: Through his psychologist. 

MR FOGARTY:  So it was done independently of Afford. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And the psychologist went and observed him at the day program? 

SALLY: Yes, she did. 

MR FOGARTY: Do you recall what her observation were when she did that? 

SALLY: She told me that they weren't trained in the use of technology such as his iPad. They didn't use flashcards, they didn't use board maker or any of the flash card programs. 


SALLY: And that they had no boards up at the centres where he could go and grab a flash card and give it to a staff member. She said there was no communication aids for him at all. 

MR FOGARTY: And were those things something you observed he had at his high school? 

SALLY: Definitely, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Is it fair to say that, put bluntly, you didn't know what was happening day to day? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: When Jason was there. In your statement I think you say, and I'll just read it:

"The reality is that we just do not know exactly what Jason did each day there, how he was developing or what benefits he was getting from the program. There was virtually no communication; there was no transparency."

SALLY: No, that's right. 

MR FOGARTY: Was that a summary of the whole time he was there or did it get worse over time? 

SALLY: It depended on the Team Leader. I've got to say, there was one Team Leader that put in a lot of effort and she was the one that made the booklet up and everything. So that was the only time that there was ever any communication aids for Jason. 

MR FOGARTY: Right. If I could ask for a document to be shown. It's the next document, which is an email behind hearing bundle A, tab 8. This I think, Sally, is a complaint   

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:   you sent to Mr Herald, the CEO. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: On 8 August 2018. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Are you familiar with its contents? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. So here it's where the workers compensation issue was raised  

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:   and he was suspended. How long was Jason suspended for, do you remember? 

SALLY: I think it was three days. 

MR FOGARTY: And you had to go and have a meeting? 

SALLY: Yes, I had the meeting on the Friday, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. In your email   sorry, I withdraw that. What prompted you to write to the CEO on this occasion in August 2018? 

SALLY: Because we were just getting no answers. 

MR FOGARTY: When you say "no answers", from whom? 

SALLY: From the Team Leader. You couldn't get   there was just no contact. They just   she just wouldn't answer the phone. 

MR FOGARTY: And this is where you were concerned about these incidents? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And you'd requested the incident reports? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: In this email, you refer to the suspension and his grandmother had to look after him. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Because you were all working. You refer to his psychologist coming out to review his behaviour management plan, some excerpts, "She explained to me that she noticed a lack of communication aids". 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Which you've just referred to:

"I've asked for a copy of the incident report ... couple of times in the past and I'm yet to see a copy of the reports."

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: "The last time I requested an incident report was when he had a meltdown the week before school holidays when his usual workers were not in."

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And they were replaced with people he was not familiar with. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Did that happen from time to time? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Were you ever provided with information from Afford about who his workers would be? 

SALLY: Not until he was assaulted, and then I said   

MR FOGARTY: By Mr Nuumaalii. 

SALLY: Yes. And I think you can't send people to my home that we don't know. 

MR FOGARTY: And what happened then? What did Afford do when you said that to them? 

SALLY: That Team Leader was there for a short period, she would send me the roster on who was coming. 

MR FOGARTY: What about in terms of identifying, where there photos or   

SALLY: No. No. They didn't even have   they didn't even wear badges. Estimation they had an Afford shirt on; sometimes they didn't. 

MR FOGARTY: Also in this email of 20 August 2018, you explain, don't you, why you're asking for these reports. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: You say you don't condone his behaviour, "But I need to know what happened before his meltdown in order to change and improve his behaviour". 

SALLY: Exactly, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Did you expect that Afford and its workers would understand that concept? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Is that something that you would do when he was at school? 

SALLY: Most definitely. That's what we'd do. The school would call me up, we'd describe what happened prior to the meltdown and then we'd accordingly deal with how we could put things into the structures so it didn't happen again. 

MR FOGARTY: And would there be consistency between home and school as well when those sorts of things were happening?

SALLY: Yes, most definitely. 

MR FOGARTY: That just didn't happen. You also say:

"Additionally more communication is key. His communication book can go days and weeks without any communication."

Then you refer to him being nonverbal largely, and it's difficult to know what is happening on a day to day basis. 

SALLY: Yes. Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: You also at the end of the email suggest that the suspension was, in my words, a blunt instrument, that there should have been another way to approach this. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And I think you say you felt it had been handled very unprofessionally? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: You say that you feel Jason shouldn't be alienated. "He needs good qualities like an inclusive environment."

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Did Mr Herald, the CEO respond to that email? 


MR FOGARTY: Then what did you do after that? Did you go down to the centre from recollection? 

SALLY: There was a meeting. 


SALLY: And I walked in, and there was four workers sitting around the table. 

MR FOGARTY: This is while he's suspended. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. 

SALLY: And one was the Team Leader. I don't know who the other three were. I know they introduced to me but at that stage, I don't know. 

MR FOGARTY: What was agreed in terms of his return? 

SALLY: That they would   they bought him a chair for a room at Cherrywood so he could have a nice little room with a chair in it. 


SALLY: They would put, like, a box in the car with balls and things for him to play with when they took him out. 


SALLY: And a book   and the new communication book with the   like the flash cards in it. 

MR FOGARTY: Flash cards. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: So did those changes last? 

SALLY: No. As soon as that Team Leader left, it stopped. 

MR FOGARTY: Later in August, yourself, Nicola and Jason's plan manager from Gilgai and another support person from Services Our Way who were supporting Jason at the time went for a meeting with Afford. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: It was a different Team Leader by that stage? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Did you request that meeting? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Do you recall what issues you raised at that meeting? 

SALLY: The invoices, the communication, and the staff not being reliable. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Was Mr Herald at that meeting? 

SALLY: No. No. 

MR FOGARTY: You had contact at one stage with the district manager, Mr Adamson. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Was he at that meeting? 

SALLY: No, that was after Jason's assault. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. In terms of the invoices, moving to another topic, you concerned about them not being issued regularly? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: That they weren't easy to understand? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And reconciled between the dates? 

SALLY: Yeah, you couldn't understand them at all. 

MR FOGARTY: And Gilgai, certainly in 2018 and 2019, were assisting you with Afford and understanding   

SALLY: Yes, they were. 

MR FOGARTY:   the invoicing and billing. In February 2019, Gilgai, on your behalf, write to the CEO Mr Herald again. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And if a document can be shown, an email dated 26 February 2019.

CHAIR: Which tab is it behind? 

MR FOGARTY:  I'm sorry. Hearing bundle A, tab 10. Thank you, Chair.

CHAIR: Thank you. 

MR FOGARTY: You're copied into this email. 

SALLY: Yes. 


SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Do you   in it, and I'll just summarise because I think you've touched upon these, the second substantive paragraph talks about Gilgai making a special effort to meet with three of the Mount Druitt coordinators, spending several hours endeavouring to sort out invoicing problems. The Gilgai support person says:

"We find the coordinators slow to invoice, take no responsibility for sorting out accounts receivable discrepancies and only referring to a Team Leader, only that Team Leader there that corrected clearly incorrect invoices."

SALLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: Is that that same Team Leader you talked about that insisted putting in place the   

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Then the next paragraph:

"We sent the last amount of problems through to a different Team Leader in 2018. It's the last invoice submitted."

That's four months before the last invoices came through. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Is that one of the delays in   

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Then they refer to a dollar value problem. Gilgai offered to go into bat for Afford in respect of a price rise figure.

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: That appeared in that document. So when they say go in to bat, is that to approach the NDIA? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: For a change in personal circumstances and additional funding. The last paragraph:

"We have spoken to Sally and think that the only way for Afford to get it together before this plan ends, which is 5 May, is for Afford to appoint a Support Coordinator for Jason. While this is not the traditional role of the Support Coordinator we can see that this may be the only way to negotiate your system in a timely fashion."

And then they refer to how much funding is left for Jason:

"Jason had 7,136 available, although NDIS may have already applied the discount factor."

Did the CEO, to your knowledge, respond to that email? 

SALLY: Not to my knowledge, no. 

MR FOGARTY: Gilgai handed over support coordination to another organisation in June 2020? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And you were copied into at least one email  

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:   where they expressed all of these problems again? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: So they were still experiencing similar problems  

SALLY: Yes, they were. 

MR FOGARTY:   in June 2020. I'd like to move to the topic of Mr Nuumaalii. 

SALLY: Yes. Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Again, if you need a break, please let the Commissioner know. It's your understanding that in the second half of 2019, Jason was abused by Mr Nuumaalii? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Mr Nuumaalii was a Lifestyle Assistant who provided personal care at home? 

SALLY: Yes, he did. 

MR FOGARTY: And also transported Jason? 

SALLY: Yes, and was with him during the day for the day program. 

MR FOGARTY: As part of the day program. It's your understanding that Jason was filmed by Mr Nuumaalii? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Naked or partially naked in the bathroom at your home? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: That he was filmed naked or partially naked in the shower and also on the toilet?


MR FOGARTY: And a location. And this is out on the activities of the day program. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: On another occasion, and Senior Counsel Assisting referred to this earlier, in one of the films Mr Nuumaalii is depicted blowing smoke on   

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:   Jason's face and gently slapping his face. 

SALLY: Mmm. 

MR FOGARTY: Your recollection from your statement, what you understand, am I right, is what the police spoke to you about? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Having seen these videos and the basis of the charges. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: I think you say that you understood he laughed at Jason as well and Jason was flinching on that occasion. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And also that Mr Nuumaalii filmed himself, in your words, taunting and agitating Toby   

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:   by driving him to McDonald's and asking him if he wanted McDonalds. And then when Toby   you say Toby appeared excited. 

SALLY: Jason, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Sorry, I withdraw that. Jason. Mr Nuumaalii said he couldn't and drove off. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Taking you to May 2020   that's early May 2020   that's when you became aware of this abuse? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Was it Afford who informed you of the abuse? 


MR FOGARTY: Who informed you of the abuse? 

SALLY: Surry Hills police officers. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And did Afford approach you or speak to you at any time around that time about the abuse? Any person from Afford? 

SALLY: I received a phone call on the   the police called me on the Friday afternoon. I received a phone call from the CEO on the Saturday morning. 

MR FOGARTY: And what do you recall the CEO said in that phone call? 

SALLY: He was very stuttery. He said, "I apologise for what's happened. We have counsellor service if you need it", then repeatedly told me, "I stayed back late, went through all of the paperwork to make sure we employed him properly."

And that really stuck in my mind because I'm thinking at this stage, I've just found out that my child's been abused at the hand of one of your workers, and it's more important for you to tell me that you've employed him properly. 

MR FOGARTY: Do you recall what you said to him? Did you express that to him at the time? 

SALLY: I was in shock, no, no, I was just like   after I got off the phone I remember saying I don't understand that phone call at all. 

MR FOGARTY: Did he contact you again, about the Nuumaalii abuse? 

SALLY: I contacted him. 

MR FOGARTY: Then what?

SALLY: Not about the abuse, that he said to me   sorry, he did say to me on that call, "You can contact me any time". 


SALLY: I was repeatedly calling Mr Anderson. 

MR FOGARTY: Mr Adamson. 

SALLY: Mr Adamson, trying to arrange meetings, and my phone calls were not getting received or returned, so I called the CEO. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. And in that, you were trying to get in touch? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: To talk about changes in light of   is that right? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Because Jason remained still part of the day program as part of his NDIS funding? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: You attended the court proceedings. 

SALLY: Every single one. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Did Afford provide any   offer any assistance or support during that? 


MR FOGARTY: Alright. Did Afford ever raise with you any offer of compensation or   


MR FOGARTY: A formal apology? 


MR FOGARTY: Or an apology directly to Jason in a way that Jason would understand? 

SALLY: No. No.

MR FOGARTY: It's the case, isn't it, that you went down to the centre? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And this is the new centre by this time? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Wasn't it, the second half of 2020? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Because you couldn't get through to Mr Adamson? 

SALLY: Yes, or the Team Leader. 

MR FOGARTY: When you went there on that occasion, he was present? 

SALLY: Yes, he was. 

MR FOGARTY:  Do you recall what your interaction was with him   what was discussed? 

SALLY: I got scuttled into a side room and the doors were shut, and we just talked about the new centre and that we needed to have a meeting. 

MR FOGARTY: I see. And did he agree to have a meeting with you? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And this is also the time when   you emailed the CEO around this time to say you wanted to have a formal meeting? 


MR FOGARTY: The meeting you had, does this assist you, was May 2020, only about two weeks after   

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:   you were told what had happened. You attended with Nicola. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Mr Adamson was there and the Team Leader. 

SALLY: Yes, and also Alison from Gilgai. 

MR FOGARTY: Gilgai was there in support as well. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: What changes or suggestions did you have for Afford at that meeting, or did you and Nicola have? 

SALLY: Well, we asked if cameras could be put in the vehicles. And we didn't want them focused on the worker; just so you can see what's happening. 

MR FOGARTY: What was the response to that? 

SALLY: We were told, no, we can't do that. 

MR FOGARTY: I asked, could there be spot checks. Actually, Nicola asked could there be spot checks on 1:1 clients. 

MR FOGARTY:  Just random. 

SALLY: Just random, just pop into the house, or if you know they're going to be at this park, could you pop into the park and no, we can't do that, that would cost us money. 

MR FOGARTY: Did you discuss or raise anything else that you can recall at that meeting? 

SALLY: Just that we didn't want strangers coming to the house to do   

MR FOGARTY: Personal care. 

SALLY:   personal care, that we needed   if a new person was going to come to our home, that we would want there to be two of them, and preferably someone that we knew to be with that new person to train them, just for us to feel comfortable. 

MR FOGARTY: Yes. And I think you say that that did happen in that period? 

SALLY: Yes, it did, yes, it did. I think three or four times. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. This is in mid   this is May 2020. 


MR FOGARTY:  Could Sally be shown the policy document. This isn't a document that is attached to your statement, Sally. It's behind hearing bundle D, tab 25. I want to ask you some questions about one part of it, page 1 of 13, should be the last document   . Do you see this is headed Policy and Procedure? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: You see the Afford name and motif there. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: 4.0 reads policy and 4.2 is where I'd like to take you. It says:

"It's expected that everyone who's associated with Afford and is involved in providing services to Afford's clients will share Afford's commitment to maintaining organisational culture that  "

4.2.1 reads:

"Upholds the values and dignity of Afford's clients."
SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Do you feel   can you comment on is that based on the experience that your family and Jason had. Do you feel that's something that was met? 

SALLY: No, not at all. 

MR FOGARTY: 4.2.2 says:

"Builds trusting relationships with Afford's clients' families, advocates and carers."

Is that something that happened in your family with Jason?


MR FOGARTY: 4.2.3, "Provide services and environment which is safe for everyone." 

SALLY: No. No. 

MR FOGARTY: 4.2.4:

"Empowers clients by helping them to understand their rights."


MR FOGARTY: 4.2.6:

"Responds proactively to concerns when they arise."

Was that your experience?

SALLY: Definitely not.

CHAIR: Just to be clear, this document, Mr Fogarty, has a date of approval of 12 March 2020. 

MR FOGARTY: Yes, thank you.

CHAIR: So that document is in force at the time of the abuse of Jason. 

MR FOGARTY: As I understand the response to the abuse, as I understand, Chair, the police charges arise from incidents that occurred in the second half of 2019.

CHAIR: Not detected or subject of information until May. 

MR FOGARTY: Till April/May by the police, no. 

SALLY: We were actually told that he was assaulted the whole time.

CHAIR: That's the date of this document. There may be a predecessor, of course. 

MR FOGARTY: I'm sorry, Sally. 

SALLY: We were actually told that Jason was assaulted from the 19th until he was arrested. 

MR FOGARTY: Sorry, the 19th of   

SALLY: The   2019 when he was   it started and then till   

MR FOGARTY: Up until. 

SALLY: Till the day he was arrested. 

MR FOGARTY: I see, and the police told you that? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Jason continued at the centre and receiving personal care until the next year, 2021. 


MR FOGARTY:  Is it fair to say you in reservations and concerns? 

SALLY: Definitely. I was visiting other centres, I was reaching out. The hard part was, the services that we needed, a lot of services weren't providing. And it was distressing, the whole time trying to find a new service provider or an individual, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And speaking of individual, it's so now that he's supported one on one by a support worker? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Five days a week, so similar, Monday to Friday. 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Fully funded by his NDIS plan? 

SALLY: Yes, it is, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: What are the pluses by this arrangement? 

SALLY: He's socialising, he's cooking at home. 

MR FOGARTY: How does he socialise? Can you tell the Royal Commission? What's his social activities with one on one supports? 

SALLY: So they'll gather once or twice a week with other people with disabilities. They'll play basketball. They'll go to a park and have barbecues. 

MR FOGARTY: And have some of these other people, peers and persons that were with him at Mount Druitt? 


MR FOGARTY:  Are they all from Mount Druitt? 

SALLY: As far as I'm aware. 

MR FOGARTY: And that happens most weeks? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Conversely, are there any down sides   do you see any down sides? 


MR FOGARTY: And have you observed   what have you observed with Jason in this new arrangement? 

SALLY: He's just a happier   just a happier person. 


SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  And what about billing and invoicing? 

SALLY: Perfect, so simple. So simple. Easy   easy to read. I understand what I'm paying for, or what NDIS is paying for, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And do you see   do you or your partner or Nicola see the support person most days of the week? 

SALLY: Every day, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: So there's a chance to talk about what's going on. 

SALLY: Every day. Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: What happens on the weekend. 

SALLY: We get photographs, we get videos. 

MR FOGARTY: Throughout the day? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: By way of wrap up, Sally, my questions   the Commissioners may have questions for you   is it your   do you consider there remains a place for day programs of the type that Jason used to participate in? 

SALLY: I say, if they do, if, you know, to remain, there needs to be some changes, lots of changes. 

MR FOGARTY: Like what sort of things? 

SALLY: More transparency, more contact with the carers or the parents of the person that's at the service. 


SALLY: The spot checks for one on ones. 

MR FOGARTY: So they're things you raised earlier    

SALLY: Yes. Cameras, training, to make sure that people can know how to use the communication aids, know how to   how   like, even such a thing as them going out to the schools and seeing how schools are doing things, and to further that on so it follows through. 

MR FOGARTY: So your experience in Jason's   with his school in high school was a very positive one? 

SALLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Commissioners, that concludes my questions for Sally.

CHAIR: Yes. Thank you very much. Sally, if it's okay. 


CHAIR: I'll ask my colleagues if they have any questions.  First I'll ask Commissioner McEwin if he has any questions for you. 

COMMISSIONER McEWIN: Thank you, Chair. Thank you, Sally, I have one or two questions about the current arrangements that you were just talking about. The support worker is very aware of what Jason's support needs are  

SALLY: Yes. 

COMMISSIONER McEWIN:   in terms of communication using the iPad that you talked about? 

SALLY: Yes. 

COMMISSIONER McEWIN: So that's very clear. Okay. And you mentioned that he appeared to be happier? 

SALLY: Much happier. 

COMMISSIONER McEWIN: Do you believe that could be because of the current arrangements? 


COMMISSIONER McEWIN: Thank you. Thank you, Chair.

CHAIR: Commissioner Bennett. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: Thank you, Sally, for coming today and sharing what's happened. I want to ask some questions.  When we were referring earlier to the document on page 9 of 12, it talked about social community participation and building capacity and independence. Was your perception when Jason started there, that social community would be just based in the day program, or would that be activities where there were a greater and broader   

SALLY: Yes. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT:   social activity? 

SALLY: Yes. Greater and broader. Yes. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: And they would be with people with disability and people without disability? 

SALLY: Yes. 


SALLY: Not to my knowledge. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: So the community was really just there all day in the day program? 

SALLY: Yes. I do believe that they did go out, but I'm not   

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: As just the clients. 

SALLY: Yes. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: Right. So there was no ways to broaden the   broaden Jason's   

SALLY: Not to my knowledge. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: Broaden Jason's community participation. 

SALLY: Not to my knowledge. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: Thank you. And the last question, is it just one person supporting Jason at the moment? 

SALLY: It is. Also, I have reached out to other services that can, if his carer now   because, you know, you can't be there all the time. You need a break; you've got your own commitments. So I reached out to other services that I went and met and have got to know. So we can bring them in when they're needed. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: So you've got other support. 

SALLY: Yes. 


SALLY: Yes. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: And is that one individual and those other supports, are they broadening that social connection? 

SALLY: Yes. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: And independence? 

SALLY: Yes. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: And what sort of things? 

SALLY: So he goes shopping. So he'll go out, and he actually pushes the trolley and is asked, "what would you like to buy", so he'll do his own grocery shopping. They go to the movies, so in the community, so he goes out in community. He goes to lots of community activities such as, back in the last school holidays he was at a NAIDOC day with everybody from the community. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: Everybody from the community. 

SALLY: Yes. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: Not just people with   

SALLY: No. No. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: Thank you very much.

CHAIR: Sally, on your understanding, the abuse of Jason that occurred did occur over a period of time? 


CHAIR: In 2019? 

SALLY: To 2020.

CHAIR: Into 2020. 


CHAIR: Obviously, when someone is charged with criminal offences it's necessary to specify the particular offences, but your understanding is that behaviour   abusive behaviour may well have continued  

SALLY: Yes. 

CHAIR:   over a period of time. During this period what was your understanding of the ratio of care that Jason was meant to be getting? 

SALLY: 1:1.

CHAIR: 1:1. Who was the main person providing that 1:1 care on your understanding at this period at the day centre? 

SALLY: He had   there was three different workers that worked with him.

CHAIR: One of whom was the perpetrator of this abuse? 


CHAIR: Have you ever received a formal apology? 


CHAIR: Have you ever received an offer of compensation? 


CHAIR: Or Jason received an offer of compensation? 

SALLY: No. No.

CHAIR: Have you ever received anything that would amount to a refund of the fees that were paid? 


CHAIR: During this period? 

SALLY: No. May I. 

CHAIR: Sorry. 

SALLY: May I just say   I just want to tell you how I felt. I felt, the day he was arrested that Afford's gone, "I wash my hands of him, he's been arrested, that's it. We don't need to deal with anything else."

CHAIR: Have you ever said to Afford   


CHAIR:   that you don't want to have an apology? 

SALLY: No. No, I said to Afford that I felt like they washed their hands.

CHAIR: Okay. I understand. Just one other matter, in paragraph 18 of your statement, you say that:

"Jason's school actively encouraged us towards Afford's day program. 


CHAIR: Jason's school, I take it, is what is commonly known as a special school? 


CHAIR: How did this active encouragement manifest itself? 

SALLY: They just told us that they had a lot of students that had previously gone from there to Afford, and that they found it to be a good service, and that they did   like, they did more services than, say, some of the others   some of the other support services. So they   they did the home care, they did the pick ups and the drop off.

CHAIR: I see. And was the school that Jason attended a state school, or was it a private school? 


CHAIR: It was a State school. 


CHAIR: I see. Mr Fogarty, there was a question that I've got and perhaps you and Mr Watson can sort out and it's really to do with the financial arrangements. We can't expect Sally to remember the details of all of these financial arrangements, but I'm a little puzzled by some things. We have a document, and there may be other documents in the 15 volumes or so that are behind me, but we have a document that indicates that there was an NDIS plan that was communicated to Jason and I assume Sally on or about 17 May 2019. 

This is the plan that provides for $117,134 for an amount that would cover the day care program. That is more or less the amount that Sally has said that was put into the service agreement in the handwritten notations. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that the service agreement was actually signed on about 3 January or thereabouts 2020, the number 12 probably a mistake, the number for January in the light of what Sally has said. 

What I'm trying to understand is what happened between May 2019 when there's the NDIS plan for $117,000 and the signing of this agreement in January 2020? What sort of   what are the charges, who is paying the charges, how are they working out what the amount is, and where do we get the $173,000? So there's I think a number of things that need to be worked out, just the relationship between these various events. Perhaps that's something that can be discussed with Mr Watson. It may be the subject of evidence later on, but it would be helpful to know because, there are some rather odd aspects of the chronology. 

MR FOGARTY: Yes, Chair. Thank you. Alright.

CHAIR: Alright. In that case   

COMMISSIONER McEWIN: Sorry to interrupt, can I ask a follow up question. The Chair asked you about the post school option from the school. Did the school talk about other options? You know, give you lots of options to consider about what Jason could do after leaving school? 

SALLY: No. They   we knew that he had to be in a day program. So they   they   I think there was about three different day programs that they basically offered, but steered us closer toward Afford because of the service they provided. 

COMMISSIONER McEWIN: So really, you were only given options about day programs. 

SALLY: Yes. 

COMMISSIONER McEWIN: They didn't look more broadly about all sorts of things? 


COMMISSIONER McEWIN: No. Okay. Thank you.

CHAIR: Sally, I'll just inquire whether there's any other representatives who may wish to ask you questions. I'm not guaranteeing they will be allowed to if they do but I'll just make the inquiry. Is there anybody that wishes to ask Sally questions? Alright. Thank you very much. In that case, Sally, thank you very much. We very much appreciate you coming to the Royal Commission to give evidence and for all of the assistants you have provided in your written statements. That's very helpful.

SALLY: I'd like to say thank you for allowing me to give my son a voice. 

CHAIR: Thank you. That is one of the reasons we're here. Thank you very much for giving your son a voice.


CHAIR: Shall we take an adjournment? Now we'll practice our adjournment procedure. It is now quarter to 1, we'll adjourn until 1.45. 

MR FOGARTY: I think the plan may have been to have a shorter luncheon.

CHAIR: Was that the plan? How short was a short adjournment? 

MR FOGARTY: 45 minutes. 1.30 if it indulges the Chair and Commissioners.

CHAIR: We'll adjourn to 1.30 and now we'll practice our adjournment procedures. 



CHAIR: Yes, Mr Fogarty. 

MR FOGARTY: Yes, thank you, Chair. The next witness is appearing by audiovisual link and goes by the pseudonym of Lilly. She's the mother of Simon which is also a pseudonym. I see Lilly on the screen. She has signed a statement dated 28 April 2022, Chair and Commissioners. This can be found in hearing bundle A, tab 15. I'll just check that   Lilly, you have a copy of your statement? 

LILLY: Yes, I do.

CHAIR: Alright. Just before we commence with Lilly's evidence, first, may I thank you very much for being prepared to give evidence before the Royal Commission. We do appreciate the assistance that you've provided and the statement you've already given us. I think you have indicated that you wish to take the affirmation, and I'll ask my associate to administer that. So if you'd be good enough to listen to what he says and just follow his instructions, then we can proceed with the questions. Thank you very much. 


CHAIR: Thank you very much. I'll now ask Mr Fogarty to ask you some questions, thank you. If at any time you need a break, just let us know, please. 

LILLY: Thank you. 

MR FOGARTY: Thank you, Chair. Lilly, can I start by asking some questions about Simon. If I'd never met Simon, how would you describe him? 

LILLY: Simon is – he’s got quite a few disabilities. He's quite a unique character. He has a fantastic sense of humour, very dry, and likes to torment. He does like to socialise, in his own way, though. So we often have street parties in our cul de sac for New Year's Eve and Christmas Eve and stuff like that, where he likes to be in charge of the music and sing. He's very musically orientated, and that's how we actually taught him his communication, through picture cards and music and movies. So he is nearly 27 years old and went to a special ed setting school and   yeah. 

MR FOGARTY: You've provided some photographs for the benefit of the Commissioners. 

LILLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And they're behind hearing bundle A, tab 23, 24 and 25 for the assistance of the Royal Commission. One of them shows Simon at the beach with his wonderful big smile. 

LILLY: Mm hmm. 

MR FOGARTY: Another shows him drawing, I think, and the last one shows him gardening. Is it fair to say that he's pretty avid with his gardening   it's something he likes to do? 

LILLY: Yes, he loves to dig in the dirt. 

MR FOGARTY: In his early years, he had a shunt inserted by way   from a brain injury, is that right, when he was little? 

LILLY: He was actually born with ventricular hydrocephalus, which is fluid on the brain, and his fourth ventricle collapsed so he was then shunted at eight months old. 

MR FOGARTY: And he's been diagnosed and lives with Autism and ADHD? 

LILLY: Yes, he's been diagnosed with ADHD. There's a fine line between ADHD and Autism. I knew he was on the spectrum from a very young age. He was then diagnosed with Epilepsy at age three due to his shunt and due to that many lots of brain surgery, then they diagnosed him at eight with Autism. 

MR FOGARTY: And he's had seizures in the past   epileptic seizures? 

LILLY: Yes, he's uncontrolled Epilepsy so we can have anywhere between four and five per night, and we can have quite a few during the week. So they're not brain damaging at this stage. We've got them fairly as, like, partial complex seizures, so it's not damaging any more than they were when he was a lot younger. 

MR FOGARTY: And there's been Epilepsy plans for those that support him? 

LILLY: Absolutely. He's had plans right through his schooling from amongst home, outing and schooling, with speech, with behaviour, with medical side of everything like that, and we tried to   I worked as a SOSO at a special ed school for 12 years before I was medically retired so   and that was one of the reasons I wanted to work and trained and got my Certificate IV to be able to help Simon as well and to be able to advocate for him, and to be able to give him his   have his needs and wants met. 

MR FOGARTY: Lilly, what certificate, for the benefit of the Royal Commission, what certificate did you do? 

LILLY: I have a Cert III in AIN which is aged care and I have a Cert IV in disability. 

MR FOGARTY: And you and his father are his full time carers? 

LILLY: Absolutely. 

MR FOGARTY: And you are his NDIS nominee? 

LILLY: Yes, I am. 

MR FOGARTY: What support on a daily basis does Simon need? 

LILLY: His daily living skills, so showering, teeth cleaning, hair brushing, shaving, breakfast made, medications given to him in his hand so he can take them orally, bathroom needs. Just all his personal care plus his everyday to day life, putting on shoes and socks, communication. He does use an AAC device on his iPad. We use picture cards. He has to have things laid out for him so he knows exactly what's going on from, you know, time to time, day to day, routines and stuff like that, or else we do have behaviours and frustration and anxiety. 

MR FOGARTY: And can that arise from things like a break in the routine, an unprepared   

LILLY: Absolutely. Things being done different, rearranging his room, rearranging, you know   if he knows that morning tea is at 11 o'clock and it's like 10 past 11, it's like the frustration and the anxiety starts and then the behaviours can arise from that. 

MR FOGARTY: And presently he's supported one on one; is that right? 

LILLY: Yes, he is. 

MR FOGARTY: And does that provider also assist with personal care in the morning? 

LILLY: Yes, she does. 

MR FOGARTY: And that's Monday to Friday? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And I'll come back to that with you. You said you were a student learning support officer for 12 years? 

LILLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Did you do that at Simon's school or schools at any stage? 

LILLY: In 2007 I started at Simon's school, and it did become a little bit hard after two and a half years, the 24/7, so I transferred to a sister school in the local area as from 2010, till 2016 where I was physically injured to the point of medical retirement. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Simon attended the Mount Druitt day program run by Afford from some transitioning in term 4 2013   his last year of school   up till November 2020; is that right? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: So close to seven years or about seven years? 

LILLY: Yes, that's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: And the decision as to what he would do post school, how did you   how was it decided he would attend that day program? 

LILLY: We actually went on bus tours through my school and through his school and had a look at all different services around the local vicinity through Penrith, Mount Druitt and the Blacktown areas. I specifically chose Afford because it was actually on my way to work and on my way home from work and I also knew all the clients that were at Afford at that specific time because they were ex students or ex school friends of my son's. So they were passive aggressive. So to have Simon in a more passive situation meant that his behaviours wouldn't kick off as much as to if he was in a high aggressive situation, he would become the king of aggression. So that was one of the main reasons I actually picked Afford. 

MR FOGARTY: Did he have a behaviour support plan through school and at the end of school? 

LILLY: Absolutely. We worked with ADHC all through school with a behaviour therapist and he also had a psychiatrist as well. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And was that behaviour support plan provided to Afford when he commenced with Afford: 

LILLY: Yes, they actually didn't want to take him on board to begin with. 

MR FOGARTY: Why was that? 

LILLY: Because of his behaviours and he has a PRN which is midazolam which is to be given after five minute seizures to stop the seizures. And none of the staff or the Team Leader had actually been qualified to administer midazolam and the Team Leader at the time told me that she didn't really want to accept Simon into the program because of those reasons, and I told her that I actually knew all the clientele that was there, and I knew that there were other behaviours and other clients there with epilepsies and PRN as well, and I told her that if she didn't accept him I would take her to the discrimination board and they soon accepted him very quickly. 

MR FOGARTY: I see. You had service agreements   were there service agreements between Afford and Simon for the services they provided? 

LILLY: Yes, there were. 

MR FOGARTY: You haven't attached any of those in full to your statement; is that correct? 

LILLY: I'm pretty bad at keeping paperwork, but yes, every year we would have a meeting and in 2016, NDIS came through, so we had a meeting with a LAC officer and would go through his wants and needs to be able to provide, and then once the funding came through, we would then get a service agreement sent home for us to sign and then send back. 

MR FOGARTY: When you say LAC, local area coordinator? 

LILLY: Yes, through NDIS, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: As I understand it, Simon would attend those meetings with you? 

LILLY: Yes, he would. 

MR FOGARTY: Then you said Afford would send you the service agreement. We're talking from 2016 onwards. 

LILLY: Actually, 2014 onwards he has had a service agreement yearly. 

MR FOGARTY: And would that   would you be invited to Afford to discuss that document, or how was it provided to you? Do you recall? 

LILLY: No, it was sent home in his bag. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. 

LILLY: And then I would send it back in his bag. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Do you recall   there was a quote part of those agreements for their   the cost of their services and their rates. Do you recall that? 

LILLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And I think you attached one of those, and I'll bring you to that in a moment to your statement. 

LILLY: Mm hmm. 

MR FOGARTY: Do you recall any other details that were set out in that agreement? 

LILLY: There was so much in that agreement that I didn't actually sit down and read it word for word. 

MR FOGARTY: Did Afford encourage you to read it or go through it with you? 

LILLY: No, they were very   can you just sign it and send it back as quick as possible. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. You   can I ask you this: the original centre was at Paull Street; correct? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: And that changed in 2020? 

LILLY: Yes, while Simon was off due to COVID. 

MR FOGARTY: Due to COVID. How far from Paull Street were you living or are you living? 

LILLY: 3.2 kilometres. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And you used to drop him there and pick him up until 2016? 

LILLY: That's correct. 2016 was when I was injured and that was the last time I actually drove him to and from. 

MR FOGARTY: At that point, obviously he didn't require transport from home or back to home. Was he getting personal care support from   


MR FOGARTY: ACCORD? No. Has he ever had personal care support at home from Afford? 


MR FOGARTY: Was the Team Leader your main contact at the centres? 

LILLY: Yes. Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: But I think you also had contact with the Lifestyle Assistants from the time you dropped him off to pick him up. 

LILLY: Yes, sometimes we would have a conversation when the Lifestyle Assistants were in the buses, if there was anything to be told or if he was going to be away or stuff like that. 

MR FOGARTY: But those liaisons weren't structured in any way; they were ad hoc. 

LILLY: No. No. 

MR FOGARTY: Did Afford offer or invite you to have meetings on a periodic basis? 

LILLY: No, they didn't, only for the NDIS   for the review. 

MR FOGARTY: I see. Alright. When Simon started the ratio of support, what was the ratio of support originally, do you recall? 

LILLY: It was three to one, so it was the same as at school. 

MR FOGARTY: I see. Did that change over time? 

LILLY: Yes, it did. I think it was 2019 he was then put one to one. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. What prompted that, do you recall? 

LILLY: The Team Leader was just   said to me that because there'd been a few behaviours, which was part of his plan to have behaviour support put on there, which was never given over the whole time that he actually attended Afford, because they wouldn't let me use funding to get a private behaviour specialist, we had to go through the Afford intake team. 


LILLY: And they kept   they'd sent me a letter out in the mail stating they had been trying to get hold of me for 12 months via email and phone and I refused to answer any of it. But I never received any email or any phone calls, and then when I finally did get through to the lady, she said she'd put him back on the bottom of the list and this was an ongoing occurrence for the whole seven years he attended. So he never got any behaviour therapy even though that was part of his funding. 

MR FOGARTY: Through the NDIS. 

LILLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. So you took it upon yourself to get an external update and review; is that right? Eventually? 

LILLY: That's correct. In 2020, I got a Support Coordinator on board because I wanted to clean out of Afford after everything that had been going on, and we needed to get a behaviour   because a lot of the other services wouldn't take him on board without behaviour plan put in place. 


LILLY: And it was knocked back by a few due to COVID as well. So that's when I decided that maybe having somebody on board one on one with a backup support worker would be the best way to go. 

MR FOGARTY: So in summary then, the only behaviour support plan that Afford had was that which had been provided by you when he transitioned from school? 

LILLY: That's correct, which was put in place back in 2013. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. One of the other issues that you had that became increasingly an issue, wasn't it, was your observations when you dropped him off and picked him up   so this was prior to 2016   that he wasn't being encouraged or even being allowed to use his augmentative and alternative communication devices, his AAC device, his iPad, for example. Was that your observation? 

LILLY: Absolutely. I had already spoken to the Team Leader and said to her, you know, he uses an AAC device on his iPad and that's the way he likes to communicate and put sentences together, because he can only string a couple of sentences   a couple of words together, could he bring that in. And I was told that under no circumstances was I to send it in, that it wasn't fair on the other clients that he had an iPad and they didn't, and what if it got broken or got lost. 

MR FOGARTY: I see. When he was at school, was there a different model in which the school supported or encouraged him in terms of communication? 

LILLY: Absolutely. He used the AAC device at school. He also had what we called PECS which are picture cards that we used to   and he used to have a finish box. It was also done at home where he would have routines put up and he could choose the picture that he wanted, whether it was food, drink, toilet, vice versa, plus the AAC device. So he would use those amongst   through school and at home. 

MR FOGARTY: Were PECS used at the day program, to your knowledge? 

LILLY: Not that I know of? 

MR FOGARTY: Did you raise that with them? 

LILLY: Yes, I did. In the first intake I'd spoken to the Team Leader and said, you know, I've obviously   I work at a school, and this is the way that we encourage independence, communication is the key to good behaviour as well. A lot of behaviours are caused because their needs and wants aren't met, and that's due to you not knowing what their needs and wants are because they can't communicate. 

MR FOGARTY: And did that   did their position change following that? 

LILLY: No, no, not at all. 

MR FOGARTY: In terms of the activities that Simon did day to day, were you aware of what he was doing? 

LILLY: He was supposed to be doing different things like bowling and music therapy and drama and gardening and   but as far as I know, he didn't participate in a lot. He used to stand in the corner when I went down to spy, just clapping, listening to music. 

MR FOGARTY:  Did you raise that with Afford, your fence. 

LILLY: Yes, I did. 

MR FOGARTY: Were those concerns generally around a failure to support him build life skills and his capacity to be independent? 

LILLY: They would say he's noncompliant or he didn't want to do it or he was having behaviours.

CHAIR: Mr Fogarty, what period are we talking about here? It night help to be a little more specific. 

MR FOGARTY: Can I ask you, was this earlier on in the 2013/14 period. 

LILLY: No, this was later on. 

MR FOGARTY: Are we talking   

LILLY: I'm talking between 2019 and 2020. 

MR FOGARTY: Right towards the end of your time with Afford.

LILLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: In your statement you refer to   you describe, and it is 2019, 2020, Afford providing glorified babysitting. 

LILLY: Yes, that's what I looked at it. I mean, I was trained professionally and I know a lot of the staff down there, none of them even hold their Certificate III, let alone medication and tube feeding certificates and all the other stuff that we had to learn through the department. They didn't have first aid CPR training or anything like that. 

MR FOGARTY: How do you know that, Lilly? 

LILLY: Speaking to the   to the actually Lifestyle Assistants. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And what years are you talking? Can you be more specific? 

LILLY: I'm talking about 2019 and 2020. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. 

LILLY: I would always ask them questions when they pulled up in the bus. I started trying to work out what was going on, why Simon's behaviour was different. Why I was getting phone calls off the music therapist saying that, you know, his behaviour was a little bit agitated and his anxiety levels were very high and he wouldn't participate in music. So I would start questioning them when they picked him up and dropped him off. I just   

MR FOGARTY: And music   sorry, Lilly.

CHAIR: Go ahead Lilly, there's something else you wanted to say. 

LILLY: That's fine. That's fine. 

MR FOGARTY: Just for the context, music therapy was an activity he did during the day therapy program but provided by a music therapist; is that right? 

LILLY: That's correct. Afford used to be one one on service on a Monday afternoon from 12 till 4 and they attended Nordoff Robbins at UWS University where he would do music therapy for an hour with a music therapist, which he absolutely and totally enjoyed. And the music therapist had rung me after he'd   a few times and said that his behaviours and his agitation and his anxiety levels were through the roof, and I'm to going to say, that was when he was one on one with Daniel Nuumaalii. 

MR FOGARTY: I see. So we're talking the second half of 2019. 

LILLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And 2020. 

LILLY: Yes, that's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: Do you recall Simon receiving   was he given a choice around what activities he did? Did Afford offer   

LILLY: In the beginning, yes. 


LILLY: He was given choices from   from 2014 till probably the end of   near 2018, going into 2019, I received in his bag an activity statement asking for me to fill out what Simon would like to do, and I rang the Team Leader and said, "This is not up to me to choose what he wants to do. It should be up to him to choose. This is about choice and control. I should not be controlling him. I'm just his carer. It should be his decision on what activities he would like to do, so sit down and ask him what he would like to do." 

MR FOGARTY: And do you know whether that was followed up by Afford? 

LILLY: Not that I know of 

MR FOGARTY:  What about his support workers or the Lifestyle Assistants, is there any choice around who he would be supported by   choice by him? 

LILLY: No, not by him. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. 

LILLY: I know when he was off on   in 2020 he was off from March until October and I had rung on numerous occasions and asked if I could have some support at home, and they finally allowed me to have some support for music therapy via Zoom. 


LILLY: And I asked them   I chose two of the support workers that I knew that Simon had a good rapport with and that I would be quite happy to have in my home, and they would alternate on a Monday, those support workers, but that was like later in 2020, in the late part of COVID. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. I think you were transitioning him back September ish, was that   

LILLY: Yes, there was a new Team Leader that had come in, and my Support Coordinator had worked with her, and she had rung up and she had a bit of a meeting over the phone, and then she came over and met Simon and we were integrating him back into   it was the new centre at this stage. 


LILLY: And yes. So I went in with him for a couple of hours the first couple of times, and then they were going to take him for a day one week and then two days the next week. Well, I went into the centre on the first day and I drove in and parked with Simon and locked the car, because there was a lady hiding in the bushes with blood all over her, and there was a man in the park next to the Afford centre that actually was screaming at this lady. And I realised that the methadone clinic was actually across the road from the park. So we stayed in the car until they had moved away, and I went in and I said to them, do you realise that the methadone clinic is actually across the park? This is a bit dangerous, having clients with disabilities.

And we went outside to talk quietly, and there was a needle in the car park. And as I walked around the car park, there was quite a few needles in the car park at the new centre, and I said to her, this is a bit of a safety and health risk here. What if one of the clients picked up   you don't know what people have got   and actually hurt themselves? And I actually spoke to her about it, and put in a complaint to Wayne and  

MR FOGARTY: Is that Wayne Adamson, Lilly? 

LILLY: Yes, and never heard anything back about it. 

MR FOGARTY: Did you raise it as well with the CEO? The issue of   

LILLY: I think my Support Coordinator did. I actually   

MR FOGARTY: On your behalf. 

LILLY:   had spoken to my Support Coordinator, and I think you do have a letter there from my Support Coordinator giving some of the reasons that I was pulling Simon out of Afford, and they were part of the reasons that I was pulling him out, due to concerns of   they have a duty of care and a risk of harm as an organisation to these clients and I feel that having needles in the car park and the methadone clinic next door was not really looking at their duty of care and risk of harm. 

MR FOGARTY: Yes. Just for the benefit, Lilly, for a moment I'll pause there. This is an email   a copy of the email that was sent by a Support Coordinator. It's behind hearing bundle A, tab 21. It's the last document, Lilly, for your benefit that I was going to take you to. I might take it to you now and get that document up. It's dated 11 November 2020. And do you agree   have you got it in front of you now, Lilly? 

LILLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Last document ends in 0017 for your benefit. 

LILLY: Yes. Hang on. They seem to be stuck together here. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Take your time. It should be a two page document. 

LILLY: Yes, I do have it. 

MR FOGARTY: Just to be clear, it's an email, do you agree, sent from your Support Coordinator to you, which she tells us is a copy of the email she sent to Afford; is that right? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: It's not actually the email. You weren't copied into the email she sent. 

LILLY: She sent that to me, yeah. 

MR FOGARTY: And by 11 November, had you withdrawn him from Afford? 

LILLY: Yes. His actual NDIS plan had actually run out by the 11th, so I had removed him by that stage, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And just looking at this document on the first page, there's some bullet points. It refers to Simon not being able to work with the support workers that were originally agreed upon, and is that the agreement post   moving out of COVID that they said they would appoint particular people to work with him and then changed?

LILLY: Yes, they had appointed two staff that   that Simon got on really well with, and then when the new Team Leader came on, she turned around and said they were the second   I can't remember what they're called, second in charge, like senior lifestyle. They were both senior Lifestyle Assistants, and she couldn't Afford to have them out and that she would send me who she thought would benefit. And I told her that that was not good enough, that it had already been previously arranged and that Simon was quite comfortable with that arrangement. 

MR FOGARTY: And the next bullet point talks about the hours expected to attend Afford. Those, you understood, were between 9 and 3. The email reads:

"However some days he is picked up after 9 am and dropped off before 3 pm, therefore not attending the six hours for the centre based program which is what he's being charged."

Was that something that you had raised with his Support Coordinator? 

LILLY: That's correct. Some days I remember having an appointment for workers compensation down at Parramatta at 10.30, and I rang them and I said, "I need to leave and I need to leave now, where's the bus?" 

MR FOGARTY: Can I clarify, this is post 2016 when the bus is picking him up? 

LILLY: This was in probably 2019. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. 

LILLY: And I said to them, you know, I need to be in Parramatta in half an hour, it's half an hour's drive. So we ended up having to drop him off a the centre because the bus didn't show up. Often the bus would show up at five past, 10 past 2, and it's like, you're supposed to be actually having Simon till 4 o'clock on a Monday and it's 10 past 2. Like, what's going on? And yeah, so it was   he could be all over the place with pick up and drop off, and that started in 2019. And it was very hard for me to book appointments and do what I was doing around the time because, you know, you've got apparently from 9 o'clock till 3 o'clock, you can arrange your life in between those hours, but when anywhere between half past 9 and 10 o'clock and anywhere between 2 o'clock and quarter to 3 he's being picked up and dropped off, it's very hard to organise different appointments and do what you need to do with life. 

MR FOGARTY: And did that negatively impact Simon as well? 

LILLY: Absolutely, because he would be waiting for the bus. 


LILLY: And it's like   and he would be standing at the door waiting for it to come and toot the horn, and it's like, I don't know who's got an inbuilt radar of time, but he sort of knew what time after he had, you know, been dressed and had breakfast and all his medications were given, he would be at the door waiting for the bus. And if you're sitting at the door for an hour and a half waiting for a bus then the anxiety levels raise and behaviours raise and   

MR FOGARTY: Over the page, Lilly, just a couple more bullet points just to summarise what, by November 2020, were the sorts of concerns that you had and were raised by the Support Coordinator, on the next page it's written:

"Like most people with Autism structure and routine is vital."

Which you've been giving evidence about for Simon:

"However this is not being considered with various changes implemented again."

Is that in reference to the change of support people? 

LILLY: Absolutely. They had so many different Team Leaders and so many different staff. You didn't know who was going to come to pick him up. 

MR FOGARTY: Were you notified if there was to be a change of Team Leader? Were you told?

LILLY: No, never. 

MR FOGARTY: How would you find out? 

LILLY: If I rang to see what was going on or to put in a complaint or ask the question, and you'd ring up and ask for the Team Leader by name, and they'd go, "Oh no, that person's no longer here any more." 

MR FOGARTY: I think you estimate don't you, the number of Team Leaders over the last couple of years. 

LILLY: Yes, that was nine. 

MR FOGARTY: Is that 2020 or a longer period from your memory? 

LILLY: That would have been, I think there was 10 from 2014 to 2020 but from 2016 to 2020, there was nine different Team Leaders, but most of them were between 2018 and 2020. 

MR FOGARTY: Right. The next bullet point I think you've referred to, you talk about the staff turnover being very high over the years and unfortunately more so a spike in recent times in 2020. You also   well, your Support Coordinator also refers to notice having been provided the week prior on 6 November that Simon will no longer be attending services. But what happened the next week? 

LILLY: The bus showed up. 

MR FOGARTY: And was Simon there when the bus showed up? 

LILLY: Yes, which caused a massive meltdown in my household because he thought he was going. 


LILLY: And he wasn't. 

MR FOGARTY: The last two bullet points refer to something you've already given evidence about, "Firstly the new site location is very close to a methadone clinic and there is constantly used needles in the car park."

And then lastly, this Support Coordinator email refers to: 

"The site does not have clear signage or known fire exits in case of an emergency. Eg if a fire occurred in the kitchen at the front of the building, staff and participants do not have a suitable exit, and if there is an exit available it is not known."

LILLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Had you expressed this yourself with anyone at Afford prior to this email with the Support Coordinator? 

LILLY: I did speak to the Team Leader about it. As I said to you, when integrating Simon back in, I was down there for a couple of hours, and as you walk into the centre, there was a double door and then there was a door next to it. 


LILLY: And that's where the kitchen was which was enclosed and it was just like one big room where they'd put a couple of walls up, but other   like an office and a sensory room. And there was no exit signs, there was no other windows, there was no other doors. There was no fire extinguishers.

And it's like, I know working with these clients that you've got clients in wheelchairs that are out in standing frames and walking frames or in bean bags or out of their chairs doing some activity, and even clients with Autism that are very hard for you to move. So if there was a fire, in the kitchen which is at the front where three doors are, how are these clients supposed to get out and how are they going to get them back into their wheelchairs and to safety? There was no way. I don't even think there was a sprinkler system on the roof either. 

MR FOGARTY: Were you consulted at all before the move to Mount Druitt to Paull Street, do you remember any   well, I take that back. Were you told there was going to be a move in centres by Afford? 

LILLY: No, I wasn't, because at that stage we were off with COVID. 


LILLY: I just got a text message to say we have moved, I think it was a couple of months after COVID had started, if I want services, to please contact them. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And just by way of timeline, you kept Simon back because you were concerned about him being immunocompromised and you kept him back at home from March to September, roughly? 

LILLY: Yes, and I'd had enough at that stage because back in 2019   July 2019   I was going in to watch my goddaughter have a baby, and it had been arranged for a fortnight prior with the Team Leader that they would take Simon from 9 o'clock till 4 o'clock because it was a C section. And he was picked up that morning, and I said to them, "If there is an emergency, the C section might be put back, so I'll contact you if anything goes wrong." 

Anyhow, I rang and the C section had been put back till after 2 o'clock and I spoke to the second in charge, the senior Lifestyle Assistant, and she was quite rude and told me that they were understaffed and it was just unlucky and that he would be home before 2.30 and tough luck if I missed the bus.  So she hung up on me, and then I rang the girl who was driving the bus that afternoon and said, "Could you please put Simon last instead of dropping"   because we were closest, "Instead of dropping him off first, could you drop him off last so I can witness the birth". And she was in the centre I think at the time and the senior Lifestyle Assistant grabbed the phone off her and told me to F off and hung up. 

So I missed the birth of the baby and got in my car and drove home, to be met by the bus with this senior Lifestyle Assistant who'd got out of the bus and slammed the door and told me that I was not a very nice person, that they were very understaffed and she was very stressed out and I turned around and I said to her I'll never have a grandchild, that was my opportunity to watch the baby being born. "I hope you miss the birth of your grandchild and see how you like it." Well, at that, she swore at me and told me she was going to report me, and chased Simon and I to the front door abusing us. And I just said that I'd report her, and shut the door. 

MR FOGARTY: Just for context, this was July 2019. Does that sound right? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And did you follow up a complaint in respect of this? 

LILLY: I rang the Team Leader who was in transition at that moment. There was just a fill in at that time, and they told me to go to the district manager, which was Wayne. 

MR FOGARTY: Was that Wayne Adamson? 

LILLY: Yes. And I rang him on the next morning and explained to him what had happened and all the rest of it. And he said that he would have a look into it. And then the next day I got a phone call from the new Team Leader that was taking over and they said they would look into it. 


LILLY: And a week later I did ask them what was going on with the complaint, and they said that they were dealing with it. And I said, "Well, I want proof that you're dealing with it and there was no proof or evidence given", and then a few weeks later, that   the Lifestyle Assistant that did the abusing was actually promoted and then I rang and asked them why my complaint hadn't been heard. 

MR FOGARTY: Who did you speak with then, do you recall? 

LILLY: The Team Leader. 

MR FOGARTY: Team Leader still, yes. 

LILLY: Yes. And then I wrote another email in September to Wayne Adamson, HR, someone on the Board, and Steven Herald. And I received an email back from Steven Herald stating that he would look into it and he would get back to me within a week, and I'm still waiting for them to get back to me. 

MR FOGARTY: Can I walk you through a couple of documents. Can I ask you to look at the second document ending 004, Lilly, and for the Royal Commission, that's a document behind hearing bundle A, tab 17. You should see there, Lilly, an email dated 10 October 2018. 

LILLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Is that from you to Mr Adamson? 

LILLY: That's correct, I sent one in July, I sent one in September and I sent one in October. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And this describes in here what, in summary, the   

LILLY: That was a different incident. It was to do with the same worker. 


LILLY: After I put that complaint in, we had an NDIS meeting with the LAC officer from Uniting. 

MR FOGARTY: And that was at the Afford site. 

LILLY: That's correct, and Simon was with me at that stage. 


LILLY: And I've been told by Wayne Adamson and the Team Leader at the time that that particular Lifestyle Assistant would be nowhere near Simon at all while he was at Afford. So we were sitting in the meeting and that Lifestyle Assistant came in to get some printing off the machine and Simon started getting a little agitated. Then she brought a client into the meeting and it's like, this is supposed to be a meeting here to help my child get what he wants and needs met. 

MR FOGARTY: Lilly, this meeting was on   it says the 9th   it was the day before this email, correct? 

LILLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: 9 October. And this is about four months after what had happened in the July incident in front of your house? 

LILLY: Yeah, the initial. And she kept coming in and interrupting the meeting until I actually turned around and said, "What the F are you doing in here? If this is the way you're doing it in front of me, what is actually going on in the centre? I have been told that you're nowhere near my child, and that you have nothing to do with him, but within this hour you have now come into this office, given him anxiety, stemmed his behaviours, all within the hour". So I then wrote a letter   the email to Wayne outlining what had actually happened, and never heard anything back from that either. 

MR FOGARTY: I see. Can I pause for a moment. Going back to the July incident out the front of the house, Simon was present when that occurred? 

LILLY: That's correct, there was four other clients on the bus and another Lifestyle Assistant and Simon when she got very abusive on the driveway. 

MR FOGARTY: Did you observe any impact on Simon following that? 

LILLY: He's made up songs about her, how she is a b i t c h, and the next day he had gone into the centre and hit her. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Can I ask you to look at the next document that is ending in 0001, Lilly, and for the benefit of the Royal Commission that's behind hearing bundle A, tab 17. I withdraw that. One moment. Do you have that, Lilly? 

LILLY: Yes, I do. 

MR FOGARTY: Hearing bundle A, tab 18, I'm sorry. 

LILLY: Okay.

MR FOGARTY: This is an email, I think you were referring to it a moment ago, that of 16 November 2019 to Steven Herald, the CEO? 

LILLY: Yes, starts with, "Good afternoon, Steven". 

MR FOGARTY: Yes, and here you refer to a telephone complaint about a staff member on 25 July 2019 to which you spoke to Wayne Adamson and a Team Leader at the time on the next day, 26 July. 

LILLY: Yes, 26 July, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Then the next paragraph   well, I withdraw that. You say you haven't received a response. You followed up in September and October, and you feel that it is a serious matter that has not yet been dealt with properly by   

LILLY: No. I mean, if I ever spoke to a parent on a school site in that way, I would have been actually fired. 


LILLY: I mean, it's not the way you form a rapport with parents. I mean, you're supposed to be accommodating and try and rectify the situation, not make the situation a lot worse, and using that sort of language and, yes, I mean, I can understand that they had a big workload, and yes, I can understand stress of working with clients that have disabilities, and that things don't always run smoothly and stuff like that. Been there, done that. 


LILLY: And, you know, but there is a way that you go about it professionally, and obviously they're not only trained in   they're not trained with certification, but they're not trained in how to conduct themselves with the families and with clients either. 

MR FOGARTY: In this email, you copy in the human resources manager. You also copy in Ross Fowler. Who was he at the time, to your knowledge? 

LILLY: He was on the Board. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And then also the NDIS Commission, you copy them in. 

LILLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Did you receive a response from Mr Herald to this email? 



LILLY: Sorry, I do. He did say that he would get in contact with me within a week. 

MR FOGARTY: Did he email you or call you or text you?

LILLY: He emailed me and said he would have a look at it and that he would contact me within a week, which I never heard anything back. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. I'd like to take you to   stepping back a little bit, but to document   the first document 0032 ending for you, Lilly. And this is a quote   a one page part I think of a service agreement that you annexed to your statement. That's behind hearing bundle A, tab 16. 

LILLY: I have that. 

MR FOGARTY: Do you recall what year this quotation was? 

LILLY: This was 2019 to 2020. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. It's only one page, this document you've provided; correct? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: If you look at the first row, the third column refers to:

"Simon will be transported to and from the lifestyle centre one to one."

You see that? 

LILLY: Yes, I do. 

MR FOGARTY: Next column, frequency requested, 10 hours per week times 48 weeks, so 480 hours. 

LILLY: And he doesn't attend   he never attended 48 weeks per year. He only attended 40 weeks per year as I kept him home on every single school holiday to give him a break. 

MR FOGARTY: I see. Was the centre always open and available for him throughout a year, let's say this year, 2019, 2020, from your memory? 

LILLY: They shut down for a week in July every year, and they shut down for two weeks during Christmas. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And then you say you kept him at home for school holidays. 

LILLY: Used to keep him home 12 weeks per year. And also it extended the funding and   well, it was supposed to give me a little bit more flexibility with funding, but Afford seem to do the service agreement and then freeze all the funding so you couldn't actually use the funding for anything else other than what they had already quoted. 

MR FOGARTY: Yes. When you talk about "freezing", was that something you referred to in your statement happened, or was put to you, during the time you kept Simon at home during COVID, is that right? Is that a particular example? 

LILLY: That's correct. I wanted to source outside support to come into the house and we couldn't get into the funding   into core funding. And even when I got the Support Coordinator on board in 2020, she found it very difficult and had to write back and forth to Afford to unfreeze money to pay for support coordination, to get a behaviour specialist on board and do an assessment to go through with the   the review   the next review. 

MR FOGARTY: You raised the freezing of the NDIS funds with Wayne Adamson, didn't you? 

LILLY: Yes, I did, and so did my coordinator. 

MR FOGARTY: Do you recall what his response was? 

LILLY: There was no response from Wayne. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. So effectively, my words, Simon was locked in with Afford for that period of time. His funds were frozen. 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: That was what was conveyed to you. 

LILLY: That's what it was told to me. And then when the last Team Leader had come on not long before he left, I spoke to her about unfreezing funds, and she automatically unfroze them within a couple of hours, and I'd also gotten a bill from the Team Leader prior for $1600 for daily activity fees. And Simon used to have his daily activity fee centre paid out of his disability pension straight to Afford, and I questioned the Team Leader at that stage that there was no way I owed $1600 and it ended up being, they owed me $1600 and she wouldn't rectify the situation and I had to wait for the next Team Leader to come on board to reimburse me that $1600 of fees as well. 

MR FOGARTY: So was this   and I'll get you to look at the document I was starting to go through with you. That might be a useful point of reference. You see the third row down, and the second last one:

"Not NDIS funded supports."

First column. 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: Three columns over:

"Daily contribution fee to attend day program."

Is that the fee you're talking about, or a different one? 

LILLY: That's correct, the $8 per day which was centre paid out of Simon's disability pension. 

MR FOGARTY: And was   

LILLY: I've also noticed it says here:

"Simon will enjoy 1:1 Saturday events"

And it was like 4800. He never, ever, ever attended Club Afford, ever. 

MR FOGARTY: And you're referring there to the second   

LILLY: Second column. Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Then the total   you can see the total in the bottom right hand corner, $64,177.04. 

LILLY: Mm hmm. 

MR FOGARTY: You say this was 2019? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY:  Was there ever a time where you were concerned about   I'll ask you this. This figure here, this total figure, did that figure concern you with respect to what his NDIS funding was at the time? 

LILLY: That was all his NDIS funding.

CHAIR: Mr Fogarty, at some stage I think we might need the documentation, because it's very difficult to follow   this is in no way a reflection on Lilly's evidence   but what we've got is a fragment of an agreement. 


CHAIR: There must have been an NDIS plan approved beforehand that presumably was in the vicinity of 60,000 odd. Perhaps it was different. But at some stage, and I'm not sure where we are with the documentation, I think it would be helpful to fit some of these figures together, NDIS plan for each year, service agreements for each year, so that we can follow what has happened to the NDIS funding, how much the agreement was for and then Lilly's evidence can then, I think, operate, as it were, within a context. 


LILLY: I don't have all the service  

CHAIR: No, it's not in any way a criticism of you; it's just lawyer like. We like to have documents in front of us so we can look busy sometimes. 

LILLY: And my bird laughed too. 

MR FOGARTY: Lilly, I hear what the Chair says, but if I can perhaps assist the Chair or certainly your recollection, it's not a document   as you just said, you don't have all of the documents at the time   at 2019, at the time of this document, did you have a Support Coordinator assisting or was it yourself? 

LILLY: No, it was just myself. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. At that time, 2019, do you recall whether Afford was provided with a copy of Simon's NDIS plan and funding? 

LILLY: Yes, they were. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. So you shared that document with them, to your recollection? 

LILLY: Yes. Well, they could sign into the portal and see from their end what was in everybody's funding inbox. 

MR FOGARTY: In Simon's funding, you understood that, is that right? 

LILLY: Yeah. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And then the following year, I think you've given some evidence the Support Coordinator came on board to assist you and Simon? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And I think you gave evidence that they found difficulties in the invoicing and the billing, is that right, with   

LILLY: I never got an invoice. The only bill I did get was for the $1600 for the daily activities, which they ended up owing me that money. And   but I never got any   any monthly statements like I do now through my plan manager, how the funding's been spent, where it was spent, when it was spent. 

MR FOGARTY: That's what you get now, did you say, through the Support Coordinator? 

LILLY: Yeah, with the plan management and the support coordination, I get a breakdown every month what's left in the funding, what's been spent, where it's been spent, how it's been spent.

MR FOGARTY: Before leaving this document, the fourth column, again, looking at the "Not NDIS funded supports", it says:

"Payable upon attendance to be invoiced monthly."

You didn't receive any monthly invoices; is that what you're saying. 

LILLY: Exactly. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Did the   you give evidence in your statement around a transport fee, and I think again this document refers to it. I think you say it was roughly $50. 

LILLY: Yes. It works out to $48.14 per day when   

MR FOGARTY: Did that change at all? Did that   

LILLY: Not that I can recall. Not that I can recall, literally. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. You gave some evidence earlier that the ratio of support for Simon was three to one when he started. 

LILLY: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And then it changed to one to one; is that right? 

LILLY: That's correct, in 2019. 

MR FOGARTY: What prompted that change, do you recall? 

LILLY: The Team Leader wanted him to be one to one due to him having some behaviour difficulties, because there was one day that he had lost   after the incident had happened with the Lifestyle Assistant, he had lost it and had thrown chairs around and had thrown punches at staff members, and they rang me and told me to go and pick him up and I said, "No. You caused this situation. I have been asking for behaviour support to come on board and you're not providing it, so you deal with it". So they put him on a bus and brought him home. 

MR FOGARTY: I see. The next NDIS plan, though, included 1:1 support. That was requested and agreed to by the NDIA; is that right? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. 

LILLY: Which I'm very thankful for now.

CHAIR: How long did that process take? That is, from the time that you were asked to, in effect, organise 1:1 support, how long before the NDIA amended the plan? 

LILLY: Well, our meeting was in October   I think it was around 6 October, and the plan ended on 10 or 11 November, and it was in the next plan that rolled over. 

MR FOGARTY: So this is 2019, Lilly? 

LILLY: That's correct.

CHAIR: And did the 1:1 support come in in November, or did it come in earlier? 

LILLY: It came in in the November.

CHAIR: Right. So there was a delay until you could get the approval from the NDIA for the 1:1 support in the new plan that was operating from November? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

CHAIR: And did Afford assist in the process of getting the NDIA plan amended or the new plan providing for additional support? 

LILLY: They did.

CHAIR: What did they do? 

LILLY: I had a meeting with the LAC officer and the Team Leader, and the Team Leader was the one that presented everything to the LAC officer, saying that they needed one on one support.

CHAIR: Right. Thank you. 

MR FOGARTY: And that material, did it include any incident reports, to your knowledge? 

LILLY: Not   I don't know. They had a meeting after I left. 

MR FOGARTY: I see. Did you ever request incident reports for Simon from Afford? 

LILLY: No, I hadn't. 

MR FOGARTY: In terms of the one on one support or ratio, did you observe that support at the centre when Simon was there? 

LILLY: Not that I know of. He had one on one support for   on a Monday afternoon he did from 12 to 4 when he went to music. 


LILLY: That I know of, and I know that, speaking to some of the Lifestyle Assistants there was one on one support when they did go out into the community. 


LILLY: But in the centre, there definitely wasn't one on one support. 

MR FOGARTY: Why do you say that? 

LILLY: There wasn't enough staff to client ratio. 

MR FOGARTY: When you say "centre" are you talking about Paull Street or   

LILLY: Both the new centre and Paull Street. 

MR FOGARTY: Is that based on the observations when you   

LILLY: When I have gone down there, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Sorry, you went down to the new centre on Mount Street? 

LILLY: I was often called down to pick Simon up due to behaviours. 

MR FOGARTY: Can I ask you about Mr Nuumaalii. He supported Simon in 2019 and some of 2020, transporting him to and from his music therapy classes; is that right? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: Did he have any other contact, to your knowledge, with Simon? 

LILLY: Not that I know of. I did ring Afford up to speak to them and they told me under privacy and confidentiality they weren't allowed to speak about it. 


LILLY: There was an incident that Daniel had taken Simon to music therapy, and I was sitting in the front lounge room waiting for him to be dropped off, and the bus drove in to my driveway, and I went to walk outside and the bus drove off and back around the street and 20 minutes later came back and I went out and I said, "Why did you drive out the driveway?"

MR FOGARTY: Lily, just a step at the time, did you see who was in the bus when it first pulled up? 

LILLY: Yes, Simon and Daniel. 

MR FOGARTY: Was there anyone else in the bus? 

LILLY: No, there wasn't. 

MR FOGARTY: And the second time it pulled up, did you say 20 minutes later. 

LILLY: There was only Simon and Daniel in the bus, and I asked Daniel where they went, and he said, "Simon said you weren't home". And I said, "So you didn't think to come and knock on the door, you didn't think to ring my number or ring your Team Leader to ring me, just to see if I was home". I said, "I actually saw you pull up then take off and I want to know where you'd been", and he said, "Oh, we just went for a drive", and then he drove off. 

MR FOGARTY: Did you raise this with Afford? 

LILLY: With the Team Leader at the time. I rang her that afternoon and I said I want an explanation of what happened and where they went, and that was never dealt with. There was also an   

MR FOGARTY: Sorry, Lilly, can I pause you for a moment. Do you remember was that the second half of 2019, or was it into 2020 that would have happened? 

LILLY: It was the second half of 2019. 

MR FOGARTY: Sorry, you're saying there was another incident. 

LILLY: There was another incident in the beginning of 2020 where Simon came home, and his eye was a little bit swollen and red. And the next morning, he woke up and he had a black eye and I sent a photo of his black eye to the Team Leader and just wrote, "Please explain". And she said that she would ask around and get back in contact with me. And I tried to follow it up a few times, and I never got an answer, and then she was no longer there. 

MR FOGARTY: You raised that   did you raise that formally as well with Afford beyond that Team Leader? 

LILLY: No. No. 

MR FOGARTY: You raised it though with the NDIS Commission, didn't you. 

LILLY: Yes, I did. 

MR FOGARTY: In a complaint? Alright. And that   that complaint remains open, to your knowledge? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And can I just summarise: in that complaint you included a reference to the unexplained black eye. 

LILLY: That's correct.

MR FOGARTY: Concerns around the supports provided during the COVID 19 pandemic. 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: A lack of communication after Daniel Nuumaalii's abuse in 2020 and his criminal conviction. 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: And the safety of the new day program site and the quality of services that Afford provided. 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: You formalised those in a complaint to the NDIS Commission? 

LILLY: I did. 

MR FOGARTY: Simon had left Afford by that time, hadn't he?

LILLY: That's correct, yeah 

MR FOGARTY: Did Afford contact you about Mr Nuumaalii and what had happened at any point? 

LILLY: No, never. 

MR FOGARTY: How did you find out about what had happened? 

LILLY: One of the parents had put it on Facebook, and my old work colleague rang me and said to me, "You need to see this", and then I actually Googled Daniel's name and watched it all unfold of his arrest. 

MR FOGARTY: So you never received a call from Afford? 


MR FOGARTY: An email or newsletter? 


MR FOGARTY: Alright. Did you raise it with   I think you gave some evidence a moment ago that you   

LILLY: I raised it with the Team Leader, and they said under privacy and confidentiality they weren't to discuss it. 

MR FOGARTY: Right. And that's   that's the extent to which Afford has ever communicated anything about it to you? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: It's right to say you were obviously very concerned when that came to your attention? 

LILLY: Absolutely. Absolutely. And then finding out exactly what had happened, was   yeah, it was a bit devastating and it's always in the back of your mind, you know, did anything happen to my child? 

MR FOGARTY: Yes. You moved Simon, or removed him, I should say, from Afford in   

LILLY: November 2020. 

MR FOGARTY:   November 2020. What in effect was the   it would seem, it's my summary here, that concerns were rising for you. What was the last straw, or what prompted you to finally withdraw him? 

LILLY: The last straw was seeing the new site and having another Team Leader come on board. 


LILLY: And we had been knocked back from Sunnyfield and Thorndale and Flintwood due to not having behaviour   


LILLY:   support plans and COVID. And one of the Lifestyle Assistants that was coming on a Monday during COVID to do music therapy with Simon, I had approached her and said to her, if the next plan comes back with the one on one, would you please work with Simon, and do the one on one with a backup support person? And that person said well, we'll just see what happens. And then the plan did come through and I went to her and offered her that again and she ended up leaving Afford and coming on board with Simon. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright, so the model now is one on one support? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: What do you see are the benefits? 

LILLY: There's a huge, huge benefit. They meet up with a group a few days a week. Where Simon was in the centre just listening to music, now he does aqua golf,he does movies, he goes bowling, they do cooking, he's actually doing sight words and colouring in and, you know, using his AAC device, his communications have come on board. We've got speech therapy on board. We've got behaviour therapy on board. So there's a whole team working with Simon. His independent skills are coming along a lot better. He's more confident out in the community. His anxiety levels aren't as high. His behaviours aren't as high, which also helps with his seizures as well. 

So he's come on leaps and bounds. His communication has come on leaps and bounds. He's starting to put like sentences together. He's actually wiping his own backside. He's helping himself in the shower and helping him dress himself. He's wanting to help cook in the kitchen. So he's just happier overall and a lot more balanced. So it's been a massive difference. And this is how he was at school and it's like he talks all these steps forward from school and then took about 15 steps back where he wasn't even communicating in Afford, and now he's flourishing again. So it's just a huge weight off the family's shoulder as well. 


LILLY: Knowing that he's happy and he's getting the care and the needs and his wants met, as well as his medicals met as well, because his support workers come to   are involved with the speech therapy, they're involved with his neurologist, his neurosurgeon, his psychiatrist and his GP. So, they're involved in everything within the family as well, so they know exactly what to do. Plus they're trained as a nurse, so they know exactly what to do and the care that Simon needs. 

MR FOGARTY: That one on one support is covered entirely by his funding   his NDIS funding. 

LILLY: That's correct. 

MR FOGARTY: Can I ask you this as a final question, noting the time and the Commissioners may have questions for you, do you consider there's a place for day programs   congregate day programs? 

LILLY: There's a lot to be looked at there. Training, to start with, compared to what   I was trained and all the different training sequences and we were forever in training. Learn to deal with behaviours. Learn to understand some as an individual, there's lots to, yeah, one on one I've found is just   he's exceeded all my expectations. And compared to what he was getting, it's a bit institutionalised, a day program. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Thank you, Lilly. I'll hand over to the Commissioners. 

LILLY: No worries.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. If you don't mind, Lilly, I'll ask my colleagues whether they have any questions of you. I'll ask Commissioner Bennett first. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: I've got a few questions. Firstly to say thank you very much, Lilly, for talking to us today, giving evidence. In 2013/14 when Simon first went to Afford, was that under the NDIS? 

LILLY: No, it wasn't, it was through ADAC. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: Right. And so when did he then move to having an NDIS plan. 

LILLY: In 2016. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: In 2016 and did you have   so was Afford at any time the actual Support Coordinator or the plan manager initially? 

LILLY: They were, yes. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: They were. And did you   

LILLY: They were right up until I got a Support Coordinator. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: And you made the decision to separate from Afford to have a separate independent Support Coordinator; is that right? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: But could he have stayed with Afford still, or was that a conscious decision that you made to separate the roles? 

LILLY: That was my choice because I felt that he wasn't getting his needs and wants met. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: And that was the same for your plan manager too. You then made a decision that those two roles should be separate from Afford? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: And does that explain why in the very beginning, you had no idea of the invoicing, the costs and what the charges were, because they were both providing the service and managing the money; is that right? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: Okay. That clarifies that for me. One other   I want to talk about, you were talking about the changes now, but in your submission on paragraph 38, even though you sort of said you were reluctant to make a change, you felt it was "glorified babysitting"; is that right? 

LILLY: That's correct. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: But you observed at times, in this funded program that Afford was paid for, that you would see them watching the Wiggles, Thomas the Tank Engine or the Teletubbies; is that right? 

LILLY: That's correct. At school we try and teach age appropriation so our earlier kids were allowed to watch the Wiggles and Thomas the Tank Engine because that was actually age appropriate. As they got older, they joined things like signing choir through school and stuff like that, and we used to do Justin Bieber, that was more age appropriate. And going into it to pick Simon up from after work, I would often see them on the whiteboard watching   these were 18 year olds and upwards watching Thomas the Tank Engine and Teletubbies and the Wiggles which is not very age appropriate. You would think they would have something, some kind of music they could dance to and sing to that was more age appropriate. And I brought that up with the Team Leader that   and my son would often go, "This is baby crap". 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: And what was their response when you've said that this was   

LILLY: "The client likes it so we'll let the client watch it". 


CHAIR: I'll ask Commissioner McEwin, any questions. 

COMMISSIONER McEWIN: Thank you, Chair. Just a couple of things from me, Lilly, and thank you from me for your evidence. First one was, when you were talking to Afford about whether you could, for example, bring or have Simon bring his own iPad so that he could use his AAC and they said something along the lines of it might get lost, it might get broken, is it fair to say that you were concerned that that would have an impact on his ability to be able to communicate and continue to develop his capacities? 

LILLY: Absolutely. I was actually quite livid that they wouldn't take responsibility for that, because it is a way of giving them an ability, is it not? That was the way they communicated. 

COMMISSIONER McEWIN: Okay. Thank you. And the second matter is, when you were describing just before with Mr Fogarty about your current arrangements with the current support worker or the support that he has, is it fair to say that the NDIS plan is now delivering what you wanted for Simon? Is that a fair characterisation to say this is exactly what should be happening and should have happened? 

LILLY: Very much so. Very much so. 


LILLY: Thank you.

CHAIR: Lilly, between 2013/2014, until the NDIS came in as far as you were concerned at least, what were the financial arrangements for Simon's program at the day care centre? 

LILLY: ADHC took care of that, so we had a yearly meeting. It started off I think at $24,000 per year and it went on different levels from mild to moderate to severe to high. Depending on what ratio of funding you would get.

CHAIR: So that, the funding for that came, of course, from a different source than the NDIS, but that funding was specifically for the purpose of his attendance at   Simon's attendance at the day care centre? 

LILLY: That's correct.

CHAIR: I see. The funding that Simon now gets from the NDIS, is that significantly greater than it was for his last year at Afford? 

LILLY: No. It's exactly the same. 

CHAIR: So the total amount of the package, if you like, has not increased but, as you've explained, the quality of the support that Simon receives is immeasurably better? 

LILLY: Absolutely.

CHAIR: Thank you. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: Chair, can I just ask one more question on points that you make. So when Simon started you said it was about $24,000; was that paid by the New South Wales government or   

LILLY: Yes, it was through ADHC, which was Age, Home Care and Disability Services. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: So was that service when he was at Afford at $64,000, you'd see it at the same level but the price that had previously been charged or paid to Afford was 24,000, but when the NDIS came in, it was 64,000. Is that   

LILLY: Yes, it jumped immeasurably. Every year it jumped on huge amounts to Afford. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: Was there more   was it better with that increase? 

LILLY: No, it was still the same. 


CHAIR: You've said that in November 2019, there was approval for an NDIS plan providing for 1:1 support. 

LILLY: Mm hmm.

CHAIR: At that point how were the charging arrangements organised? Was there a monthly bill and who did it come to and who paid it? From Afford, I meant. 

LILLY: Afford looked after all his finances back then.

CHAIR: It wasn't until you appointed a separate coordinator that things changed? 

LILLY: That's correct, in 2020.

CHAIR: It wasn't until 2020. So it was Afford that was actually, what, as you understood it, reimbursing themselves out of the plan funds to pay for the services they were providing? 

LILLY: Yes, that's correct.

CHAIR: Okay. Alright. Thank you. Lilly, I'll just ask whether there are any other questions that may come from any other of the representatives. I don't say that if they make a request, it will be granted but I'll just ask if anybody wishes to make an application   

MR WATSON: Nothing from Afford. Thank you, Commissioners.

CHAIR: In that case, Lilly, thank you very much indeed for coming to the Commission, or perhaps notionally coming to the Commission to give evidence. We're very grateful to you and we're very grateful to you telling us Simon's story. And we wish you and Simon all the best, and we're very pleased to hear the evidence that you've given about Simon's current position. So thank you very much, and our best wishes to you and Simon. 

LILLY: Thank you very much as well. 

CHAIR: Thank you. 


CHAIR: How long are we allowed, Mr Fogarty? 

MR FOGARTY: We need 15 minutes.

CHAIR: 15 minutes. It is now 2.50. We'll come back at 3.05 pm. 



CHAIR: Mr Fogarty, just before we resume, I think there are a couple more appearances to be announced from the State of New South Wales and the State of Victoria. So first I'll ask for the State of New South Wales, if there is an appearance? Alright. I've been misinformed. For Victoria.

MR CHESTERTON: Commissioners, my name's Scott Chesterton, I'm appearing for the State of Victoria. I appreciate being able to do that now when I wasn't able to this morning.

CHAIR: Yes, I think there's an appearance for the State of New South Wales as well. Is that right? 

MS FURNESS: I think we've now been unmuted by the Royal Commission. Gail Furness, appearing for the State of New South Wales, instructed by the Crown Solicitor's office. 

CHAIR: Thank you, Ms Furness, we can see you on the screen. Thank you very much. Alright. Yes, Mr Fogarty. 

MR FOGARTY: Thank you, Chair. The next two witnesses and the last two witnesses are Suzie and Rob, pseudonyms. They're the parent of Toby, also a pseudonym. Suzie has signed a statement at hearing bundle A, tab 26. And just for reference, in that statement Suzie refers to that statement being, in a sense, a combined statement of Suzie and Rob, and Rob's here today to assist and give evidence if required. Thank you, Chair.

CHAIR: Thank you, very much. Suzie and Rob, thank you for coming to the Royal Commissions to give evidence today. I will ask you, if you don't mind, to follow the instructions of my Associate who will administer the oath to each of you. Thank you very much. 


CHAIR: Thank you, Suzie, thank you Rob. Now I'll ask Mr Fogarty to ask you some questions. If at any time you want to have a break, just let us know and that can be arranged. Thank you. 

MR FOGARTY:  Suzie and Rob, you've provided the Royal Commission with some photos of Toby. For the benefit of the Royal Commission, they're behind hearing bundle A tabs 27 to 31. I'll just describe those. He's the youngest of six boys. One of the photos is taken on holidays New Zealand where he was visiting his brother with yourselves, was that last year? 

SUZIE: Not that   

MR FOGARTY: The one standing in front of King Kong outside Weta Workshop?

SUZIE: No, that was two years ago, I think. 

MR FOGARTY:  Alright. And the second one is a photo of Toby with you and Rob, I think on the same trip. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And   this is behind tab 29   there's a photo of Toby and his support worker at a picnic, I think you describe, this is the current one on one support worker you describe as being like part of the family. Then tabs 30 and 31, there's a photo of Toby dressed up as Harry Potter, and then the last photo I've referred to is him dressed up as Woody from Toy Story. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Thank you for providing those. Can you describe   one can't describe in words very shortly, but describe Toby to the Royal Commission, first Suzie and maybe Rob. 

SUZIE: He's a little joker. He's   he's a very amiable child. He is loved by people that meet him. He's very funny and   yeah.

ROB: He likes to play the class clown and he loves to play on his iPads all the time. Loves watching movies and getting out being sociable withes his brothers. And he's got three dogs that he loves to cuddle, and one of them sleeps with him. 

MR FOGARTY: Like any 22 year old male, he's difficult to pull off the iPad and Netflix.

ROB: Absolutely.

SUZIE: Definitely.

MR FOGARTY: He lives at home with both of you, and you're his primary carers. He lives with Down syndrome and intellectual disability. And I think earlier in opening, Senior Counsel referred to him using a PEG feed. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: How does he communicate? 

SUZIE: He uses some made up signs that he's made up himself. He uses Auslan signs. He uses some words that people that know him will understand. The wider community don't really understand what he's saying, but those closest to him will get the gist of what he means. 

MR FOGARTY: Does he use an iPad or other AAC device? 

SUZIE: He did for a while, but because he uses the iPad for recreation, he tends to not want to use it for communication. He would rather just watch YouTube and things like that on his iPad so   

MR FOGARTY: And I've referred to his five big brothers as very close to him, I understand, particularly the next one up who's in New Zealand. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: You're planning to go and visit again later this year? 

SUZIE: Yes, in about five weeks. 

MR FOGARTY: Fingers crossed. Can I ask you some questions about his schooling. As I understand, he finished his HSC, and it's I think probably one of the proudest moments for the whole family; is that right? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: He went to a mainstream school in the early years, in a supported class for primary school. 

SUZIE: Yes. Yeah.

MR FOGARTY: High school, he went to a school for students with disabilities and that's where he finished his HSC years. He enjoyed school? 

SUZIE: I think so. He was happy enough to go every day. He used to get a bit stroppy towards the end of term but yes, in general I'd say he enjoyed school. 

MR FOGARTY: And did you   was there communication between the family and school   between yourselves and that school. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: The high school. 

SUZIE: Yeah. We used to use a communication book that was filled out almost on a daily basis. 


SUZIE: There were always phone calls to let us know how he was going, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Who would the contact be in school? 

SUZIE: Sometimes it was the principal, sometimes it was the deputy principal. 


SUZIE: And other times it would be his class teacher. 

MR FOGARTY: He graduated, I think, in 2018 or that was his last year? 

SUZIE: Yes, I think so, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And that's   he then transitioned to a day program. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: To Afford. What was the decision making process for him to go to Afford, the day program? 

SUZIE: The school actually had a bus tour that took the carers of the children in years 11 and 12 around to different sites to view what was available for after school. I went on two bus tours. We went and visited Afford. We went and visited PECI, NADO, Thorndale, Sunnydale, to give us an idea of what there was out there. 


SUZIE: I think by that stage we knew that Toby was not going to be able to work, that he would be best suited for a day program, so that was what we were looking for. 


SUZIE: And that just gave me an idea of what different sorts of companies were out there. 

MR FOGARTY: And what services were you looking for, ongoing for him? 

SUZIE: Well, we wanted him to be able to access the community, to be able to interact with peers his own age rather than just spending all day at home with Mum and Dad. 


SUZIE: In the hopes that, you know, his communication would improve, that his lifestyle would improve. 

MR FOGARTY: Yes. And at the time, he also required personal care support; is that right? 

SUZIE: No, we used to take care of that ourselves. Yeah, he's still   my husband's just recently retired, so he's sort of picked up that mantle. Yeah, we used to do most of that ourselves. 

MR FOGARTY: So the only services in the time, I think, from late 2018 to 2021 with Afford was the day program services. 

SUZIE: Yes, correct. 

MR FOGARTY: And transport? 

SUZIE: And transport, and he used to attend   in the beginning, he used to attend Club Afford. 

MR FOGARTY: Club Afford. 

SUZIE: Some, if not every Saturday. 

MR FOGARTY: Yes. Alright. And was there a reason beyond those that you've just given in terms of his engaging with Club Afford? That was a Saturday you'd meet at Minchinbury? 

SUZIE: To start with we would meet at McDonald's at Minchinbury and then towards   later on we would drop him at the head office at Minchinbury, and they would go from there, 

MR FOGARTY:  And your impression was, Toby enjoyed the Club Afford outings? 

SUZIE: He loved it. Yeah.

MR FOGARTY: I'll come back to a couple of those occasions that he attended Club Afford. Afford had service agreements with you for the services it provided Toby. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And as I said, it was from late 2018 that he engaged services of them. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: If I can ask for a document to be shown, and that's behind hearing bundle A, tab 34, document ending in 0997. The document should come up on the screen in a moment. I can ask you to go to the next page, just to see that clause that says Term, page 2 of 11, at the bottom, 3.1. This is an agreement only for six weeks, you see that? Put your glasses on. 

SUZIE: I can't see it with or without.

CHAIR: Sorry, what's the status of this document? The version that I've got doesn't seem to be signed or dated. 

SUZIE: Yeah, I can see. 

MR FOGARTY: Sorry, Chair, I'll ask about that document. 

CHAIR: I hope there's a mere formality. 

MR FOGARTY: And, Chair, you've raised similar points with earlier witnesses. 

You see on the second page, it says a term of six weeks. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: This is from 9 October 2018 to 19 November 2018. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And as the Chair has pointed out, if you look at the last page of that document   the last page, I should say, which should be numbered 11 of 11, it's not signed or dated. Do you agree? 

SUZIE: Yes. I agree it's not.

CHAIR: Probably you do agree. 

SUZIE: Yes, I agree. No, it's not signed. 

MR FOGARTY: Do you recall   you recall a six week agreement as the first agreement   service agreement you had for Toby with Afford? 

SUZIE: Yes, it would be. 

MR FOGARTY: Do you recall that service agreement being provided to you by Afford? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: When did you receive that, or in what context did you receive it? 

SUZIE: That was when we first went and decided that he had funding left over from being at school, and because he had already turned 18 he was able to access Club Afford straightaway, which I was keen for him to do to get a feel of whether he was going to fit in at Mount Druitt day program. And he was also then going to transition one day a week in the last term of school before he would eventually start in the January. I believe this was to cover that period while he was still at school. 

MR FOGARTY: So 2018 is, as I said to you earlier   

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And you gave evidence, that was his HSC, his final year. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  So there was the part when he was doing  

SUZIE: Transition. 

MR FOGARTY: 2019 he was there, how many days was he attended from? 

SUZIE: He was going five days a week, and Club Afford most Saturdays. 

MR FOGARTY: Club Afford started in October. He went in October 2018 as well? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Is it the case that you met with a business development officer and Team Leader? 

SUZIE: I believe so, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: In respect of this first service agreement, is that your recollection? 

SUZIE: I can't remember whether it was   I'm pretty sure it was this one, yeah. 

MR FOGARTY: In following, he remained with Afford until 2021. For the next   do you recall the next service agreement, 2019? 

SUZIE: The next service agreement would have been just before he started or at the time he started in January 2019. 

MR FOGARTY: And was service agreements, from your memory, the ones that Toby had back to back in terms of timing with Afford. So one service agreement would follow another. 

SUZIE: I believe so, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Do you recall on any of the occasions   I withdraw that. On this first occasion, do you recall the business development officer or a Team Leader discussing the terms of the service agreement with you? 


MR FOGARTY: Do you recall at any stage Afford discussing them with you? 


MR FOGARTY: Offering to? 


MR FOGARTY: Did you have a Support Coordinator? 


MR FOGARTY: At any time when Toby was at Afford? 

SUZIE: We were   we accessed a Support Coordinator in twenty   late 2020, but previous to that, he   he didn't have a Support Coordinator, no. 

MR FOGARTY: Can I ask you to turn to page 3 of this document, page 3 of 11. Actually, I should ask you this first. Can I ask you to look at this document. Does this document   it's not signed by you but does it appear to be familiar, and it's the one   

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Is a copy of   

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: To the best of your recollection. On page 3 of 11, clause 5.9 under Cost and Payment Terms, do you see that clause it says:

"The participant agree to be personally liable to Afford for the cost of the services if the participant has overspent their NDIA funds."

SUZIE: Yes, I see. 

MR FOGARTY: Were you aware of that term at the time? 


MR FOGARTY: Was there ever a time that you were concerned that there would be an overspend of Toby's NDIS funds? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Was that in 2019 or 2020, do you recall? 

SUZIE: Sorry, I've just got to get my years   

MR FOGARTY: Take your time. 

SUZIE: I believe it was 2019   early 2019. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And is there any consequence of that concern that you had? 

SUZIE: Sorry? 

MR FOGARTY: Well, I'll take that back. Did you raise your concerns with Afford about his funds being overspent? 

SUZIE: I approached Afford when we spoke about him going from a one to three ratio, to a 1:1. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. 

SUZIE: And because his NDIS plan only covered one to three, I was extremely worried that his plan was going to run out early if they put him on one to one. 

MR FOGARTY: Was that 2019 or the next year? 

SUZIE: That was   I think that was late 2019. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Why   what prompted the change to the ratio, do you recall? 

SUZIE: Yes, I do. He   the very first day that he attended Club Afford, which I think was around the end of October in 2018, he absconded from the group at Bondi and was lost for about an, hour, which put up a few red flags. Then again in   I believe it was March 2019, he was lost again, doing work experience at Coles at Mount Druitt. And we had a meeting with the Team Leader and the district manager at the time who   I can't really recall his name, and  

MR FOGARTY: This is 2019, sorry? 

SUZIE: This is in 2019. 

MR FOGARTY: Just after the March 2019 signing. 

SUZIE: Yes. Yes. And we spoke about the need for Toby to be one on one because of his absconding. And I also at that stage said he only has funding for one to three. 


SUZIE: How will that impact his funding? And we decided that we were then going to put in for a review of his NDIS funds. 


SUZIE: But that was why he went from three to one. 

MR FOGARTY: The absconding incidents. 

SUZIE: The absconding. 

MR FOGARTY: Did he have a behaviour support plan? 


MR FOGARTY: Was one provided? 


MR FOGARTY: Did you talk with Afford about a behaviour support plan? 


MR FOGARTY: Did they talk to you about one? 


MR FOGARTY: In any of the time he was there in those three years? 


MR FOGARTY: When you say you decided in terms of approaching the NDIA for funding for with one to one, did Afford assist in that process? 

SUZIE: Yes, they did. 

MR FOGARTY: How did they assist? 

SUZIE: We had a lovely Team Leader, who I can't recall her name. 

MR FOGARTY: That's okay. 

SUZIE: She outlined that Toby needed to go from one to three to one to one because of the absconding. I also asked for copies of the incident reports. 

MR FOGARTY: You asked Afford for those? 

SUZIE: Yes, I asked Afford for those, so that it could all be budged together and sent in for a review of his NDIS funds. 

MR FOGARTY: It wasn't the end of year review, was it? It wasn't the   

SUZIE: No, his review was due in November. By the time we got all the relevant information together, we were told by the NDIS that we couldn't have the review because it was within three months of his plan expiring. 

MR FOGARTY: So it must have been September, October? 

SUZIE: Roughly around then. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. 

SUZIE: So I have gone back to Afford and said, "What should I do? Should we   you know, I note that he doesn't have the funding for one to one. Should we look at reducing his days, his hours, so that his funding will last till the end of his plan, rather than use it all up now and then him not have any   anything to do for four months", or whatever it was. 


SUZIE: And I was told, "It's okay, don't worry". 

MR FOGARTY: Because at the time were you   you believed that the funds would run out. 

SUZIE: I knew the funds would run out, yes. I knew they would run out. 

MR FOGARTY: Were you able to keep an eye on the funds at that time? 

SUZIE: I'll hand over to Rob for that, because   

ROB: It was extremely difficult to follow the invoicing. It was spasmodic and we just couldn't follow it. There'd be a whole group of invoices come through at once. The plan manager would say, "No, that's not allowed". It was just all over the shop. 

MR FOGARTY: When you say a plan manager, the NDIA? 

ROB: No, our own. 

MR FOGARTY: Your own plan manager. Alright.

ROB: We never saw them, and we'd only get them through the plan manager.

MR FOGARTY: At this point prior to having a Support Coordinator, you were both doing that   you particularly, Rob, were doing the toing and froing? 

ROB: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: So invoices and billings from Afford were sent to regularly, monthly? 

ROB: We never got them directly. They went straight to the plan manager and then trying to follow   piece together what weeks he'd been. You just couldn't follow it all. 

MR FOGARTY: So the plan manager comes to you once they would come in. 

ROB: Unfortunately, the plan manager didn't really offer it much, no. 

SUZIE: They didn't help much. 

ROB: Just log onto the website and try to find out yourself. 

MR FOGARTY: Right. Is it a result of those concerns around funding that he was withdrawn from Club Afford? Did that happen? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: When was that, Suzie? 

SUZIE: Pretty much   yeah, I think he went from going every week to maybe going once a month, and then later on when I knew that we weren't going to get his plan topped up before   

MR FOGARTY: The review. 

SUZIE:   his new one, I took him out altogether. 

MR FOGARTY: Right and did he return to Club Afford after that? 

SUZIE: No. Oh   I can't remember.

ROB: I don't think so. 

SUZIE: I don't think so because   maybe every now and again, but I don't think so because we just didn't have the funding. 

MR FOGARTY: Yes. And from your impressions, did he enjoy Club Afford? 

SUZIE: He did, yes, he did. 

MR FOGARTY: Can I ask you to   still with the document in front of you which you   which your evidence is, it appears to be a copy of that six week agreement. Page 9 of 11, there's a table, part of the quotation, this is the second part of the quote. Let me know when you're on page 9 of 11. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: You see the bottom, or the third and second last rows, one is, "Non NDIS chargeable item" and then underneath that, "Not NDIS funded". 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Going across the line at "Non NDIS funded item", does that appear   it refers to, in the fourth column, 0.78 cents per kilometre and 15 kilometres of travel, to be invoiced to the participant monthly. Do you understand that to be a transport, second page, page 9 of 11, if you come down the first column. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Second last entry, "Non NDIS chargeable item", and you move across, "Not NDIS funded", varied as per    moving across the column. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Is that .78 cents per kilometre after 15 kilometres of travel, and then to be invoiced to the participant monthly, do you understand that to be the transport fee cost, or is that something different or you don't know? 

SUZIE: I don't know. I was never invoiced. 

MR FOGARTY: Monthly? 

SUZIE: I was never invoiced. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And then underneath that, the second last row before you get to the total, "Not NDIS funded, N/A, daily contribution fee to attend day program, payable in advance, moving across, dependent upon program,/activities chosen", and then finally:

"To be confirmed once programs have been chosen."

Do you recall him being charged a daily contribution fee? 

SUZIE: No, I recall him being   not at first, no. Later on, he was charged for daily activities. 


SUZIE: Depending on what he did. But at this stage, no, that wasn't until way later. 

MR FOGARTY: Okay. You say    so was there some choice that he had in the activities he did in that three year period? 

SUZIE: Yeah, I would probably pick it, because he would have no idea. I could say to him, do you want to do this or want to do that, and yeah, no. 

MR FOGARTY: And how did Afford make that offer of activities? 

SUZIE: At first we didn't get any choice. Then we used to receive, like, a menu and we would pick what activity   it might have been two or three different activities during the   per day. 

MR FOGARTY: Like a week ahead? 

SUZIE: Yeah, basically like that. And I would pick whether he'd want to do cooking or music or bowling, whatever it was. 


SUZIE: Add up the total, and then I would send the money in an envelope each week. 

MR FOGARTY: Right. And so that's the activity fees you're talking about. 

SUZIE: That's the activity fees. 

MR FOGARTY: Was it 2019 or 2020, do you recall that this was happening, later in the piece? You can't recall. 

SUZIE: I don't recall when exactly it was, but I know it wasn't   it was probably six to eight months after he started. 

MR FOGARTY: I see. And you say you put the money together. How did the money go to Afford? 

SUZIE: It would go in an envelope and I would either hand it to whoever was driving the bus that way with his name on it and the amount, or I would put it in his communication book, and hope that somebody opened the communication book and found it. 

MR FOGARTY: Did you receive receipts for that money? 

SUZIE: I received a receipt for the total amount of money most of the time, not for the individual activities. 

MR FOGARTY: But not itemised? 

SUZIE: Not itemised, no. 

MR FOGARTY: I'd like to ask you some questions about the abuse Mr Nuumaalii   the abuse of Toby by Mr Nuumaalii. Please let me know if you need a break. That, plus the response I'm going to ask you about the response by Afford to you and your family, and also some questions around your observations of the impact on Toby and also impact on yourselves. When did you   you were contacted by Afford in April 2020, were you? You were called by then? 

SUZIE: I'm not exactly sure. 

ROB: It was April.

MR FOGARTY: Is that right, Rob? 

ROB: Yes, that's right. 

MR FOGARTY:  And do you recall, what did that initial call   what did they say or ask? 

SUZIE: The initial call was to ask permission to pass our details on to the police who had requested them, as they wanted to discuss something that had happened at the day program. That was all I knew. I said yes, that was fine, to have our details passed on and it was a day or so before I got a phone call from the police to tell us what had happened. 

MR FOGARTY: Did you know the person from Afford who called you. 

SUZIE: No, it was somebody from head office, and I know it was a lady but I don't recall her name. 

MR FOGARTY: Both of you, what was your reaction to that? 

SUZIE: Well, yeah, I was a bit worried because I didn't know   I knew it wasn't because they'd lost him again. So I knew it was something more   

ROB: Serious. 

SUZIE: More serious, thank you, more serious than that, and I was extremely worried, because she was not at liberty to give me any information if she in fact had any at that stage. 

MR FOGARTY: She told you that, did she, that caller? 

SUZIE: She didn't say. She just said that something had happened at the day program and the police wanted our contact details. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. And then the police contacted you. What did they   

SUZIE: It was probably the next afternoon so probably 24 hours later. To tell us that   what had happened. They couldn't give us specific details because they hadn't finished going through the evidence that they had. Then they rang us again, I think the following day, to tell us that Daniel Nuumaalii was going to be arrested. 


SUZIE: And that they would talk to us in the following weeks to let us know exactly what had happened and to get a statement from us. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. It's the case that Mr Nuumaalii was charged in respect of filming Toby naked or semi naked in a public toilet over the top of the cubicle. 

SUZIE: Correct. 

MR FOGARTY:  That was one of the charges? 

SUZIE: One. 

MR FOGARTY:  Another was him being   Toby being filmed by Mr Nuumaalii naked in a swimming centre shower, to your knowledge. 

SUZIE: I think so. Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And then also slapping Toby across the face to wake him up, and that had been filmed by him. And those were matters that were charged by police, as you understood. 

ROB: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Afford called you to get permission to pass your number on. Did you get any other contact from Afford? 

SUZIE: Yes. I believe Daniel Nuumaalii was arrested on the Friday afternoon, and I believe it was the next   it was Saturday morning I received a call from Steven Herald. 

MR FOGARTY: And he was CEO at the time of Afford. What do you recall about that conversation? 

SUZIE: He said that   he apologised that   that it had happened. At that stage, I didn't know exactly what had happened and I'm pretty sure he didn't know exactly what had happened, but we just knew that something serious had happened. He told us that if Toby or Rob or I or any of the family needed counselling, then it would be provided. They were happy to provide that for us. And when I questioned him on, you know, how Mr Nuumaalii could be employed by Afford. He told me that all the checks and balances were   they had done everything they could with doing background checks et cetera, et cetera. So basically, you know, we did all we could. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. 

SUZIE: Or that's what it felt like to me. 

MR FOGARTY: And in your statement you referred to that call, that response being pretty perfunctory. 

SUZIE: Mm hmm. 

MR FOGARTY: Did he follow up with you at a later date? 


MR FOGARTY: Did any other Afford officer follow up with you? 

SUZIE: No. No.

MR FOGARTY: You attended   I withdraw that. So you were never offered an apology beyond what you describe as he apologised,and you discussed what that meant. What about compensation, an offer of compensation for Toby? 


MR FOGARTY: No refund of fees? 


MR FOGARTY: You attended the court proceedings? 

SUZIE: We attended for the sentencing. 

MR FOGARTY: The sentencing. Did Afford offer any support for you or your family in respect of court? 

SUZIE: One of the   the Team Leader at the time was at the sentencing but there wasn't any offer of any counselling or anything. There was just, you know, she was I guess there to   to be a support. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Did she approach you or you her? 

SUZIE: Yes, she approached all the parents. She was   sat with us on the day. 

MR FOGARTY: But that was the sentencing day? 

SUZIE: That was the sentencing day, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. You've given some evidence   I'd like to refer back to Club Afford and the first absconding incident, as you referred to it. It was his first day, 20 October 2018, a Saturday. You were contacted, weren't you, by   was it you Suzie or you Rob, you were called by one of the   

SUZIE: I was called by the Team Leader. 

MR FOGARTY: The Team Leader. 

SUZIE: Yes, who had received a call from the Lifestyle Assistant to say that Toby was missing. 

MR FOGARTY: At Bondi Beach. 

SUZIE: At Bondi Beach, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And how did they find him? 

SUZIE: Well, he was gone for about an hour, and then while they were looking for him, he just wandered back up and rejoined the group. So he obviously wasn't too far away because he can't navigate traffic or anything like that. So he mustn't have been too far away. 


SUZIE: He must have been able to see them. 

MR FOGARTY: Could I ask for a document to   you   sorry, I withdraw that. You emailed the Team Leader following this incident, didn't you, about what had happened? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Document behind hearing bundle A, tab 35. I think this is a series of emails. I'll ask you to have a look at it, Suzie, in bundle A, tab 35. Starting at the bottom   

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: So this is an email chain, I think, three emails on 31 October 2018, shortly after this incident, 11 days, and you asked the Team Leader for an update on the incident at Bondi Beach last Saturday. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And then that Team Leader responds the same day, being the morning, the next email up. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And they inform you there's an HR investigation going on in regards to the incident that occurred. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: They reassure you that at no stage will it affect his placement with Club Afford. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And it says:

"We look forward to having Toby back tomorrow, and hope he enjoyed the Invictus Games. While we're still getting to know him, we would like to have him on a one to two ratio."

So this is the first time in your recollection they required a change from the three to   

SUZIE: Yes, after the first day. 

MR FOGARTY: Three to one, okay. And then you write, I should finish off, this is the email above that, still that same day:

"Thanks for the information. Yes, that's fine. I suppose that will impact his funding if that's something I need to revise in the future."

So this is an indication at that time you were worried about the change in ratio. 

SUZIE: The very first day. 

MR FOGARTY: Of Club Afford. And this is   he's still in year 12, the transition phrase. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Do you recall whether a Team Leader or anyone else from Afford followed up with you about that at that time. 

SUZIE: No. No. No one followed up. 

MR FOGARTY: Then you gave evidence   I think it was five months later in March 2019, he was at a supermarket doing work experience, and that was one of the activities you could do through the day program. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And were you contacted by phone about that incident on that day or at a later date? 

SUZIE: Yes, I was contacted that day by the then Team Leader who told me that Toby had been lost from work experience and that he had been found at Mount Druitt Hospital. So she surmised that he had walked from Coles at Mount Druitt to Mount Druitt Hospital, which wouldn't have happened because he can't navigate the traffic, and it's about   what did we say   1.7 kilometres, and he had been found. He was okay, just to reassure me that he was okay. So I got the phone call after he had been lost and refound. 

MR FOGARTY: Same day or   

SUZIE: Same day. Then later on in the afternoon, I received a phone call from a sergeant at Mount Druitt Police Station who just wanted to check up that Afford had let me know that Toby had gone missing, and that he had been found in the middle of the main road outside the shopping centre, which was not the story I was told by the Team Leader. So we just surmised that somebody had picked him up and taken him to Mount Druitt Police Station because he was standing in the middle of Luxford Road. 

MR FOGARTY: And you just gave some evidence he doesn't have any road awareness   road safety awareness.


MR FOGARTY: What about stranger danger? 

SUZIE: No, none whatsoever. 

MR FOGARTY: It would be fair to say you were   I think it's probably likely very upset, worried about what had happened that day.

SUZIE: Yeah. Well yes. 

MR FOGARTY: You requested an incident report, you gave evidence that you required them to a change in circumstances to the NDIA, but you received that some months later. 

SUZIE: Yeah, I had to really chase that up and I don't think we got it until maybe June. I think May, June. So it was quite a few weeks later and, again, it told a different story. The support worker who told the story on the report told it again, a different story to what I'd been told by the Team Leader and the police. So we still don't know what happened that day. 

MR FOGARTY: I won't take you to this document, but for the benefit of the Royal Commission that incident report, you've attached that to your statement; correct? 

SUZIE: I have, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: It's behind hearing bundle A, tab 39, and that's the written incident report you received about 25 March 2019, is it   

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:   which you say gives a different account still? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And then you also received at the same time   

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:   the incident report for the first day at Club Afford. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: That document also behind hearing bundle A, tab 39, has on the front a Client Risk Profile Summary. Are you familiar with that or would you like   could that be brought up, just the front page of that document, hearing bundle A, tab 39. Just that front page. I'm only going to ask you about the top two parts of this. So it's a Client Risk Profile Summary for Toby, environmental and social. Underneath, there's a stranger danger and then underneath that a traffic road. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Was this document provided to you by Afford at the time they provided the incident reports? 


MR FOGARTY: When did you receive this? 

ROB: Yes, all came together. 

SUZIE: Yes, it all   this all came together. 

MR FOGARTY: Had you seen that risk profile summary before that? 


MR FOGARTY: Alright. So the stranger danger says in terms of severity, if you work your way along, high, likelihood likely. It gives a risk category of 1, staff observation is the source of the information and then it says:

"Toby absconds and has no concept of stranger danger."

And then underneath that, the traffic roads again, severity high, likelihood likely, the same entries, the last one, management strategy:

"Toby absconds and has no concept of road safety."

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: At this time, was there   it says management strategy. Were you consulted about any other strategy other than what's written in here at the time? 

SUZIE: No, and putting him from one to two to one to one, that was all. 

MR FOGARTY: That was all, the suggested adjustments and again, to be thorough, there was no behaviour support plan that you're aware of   


MR FOGARTY:   for Toby   


MR FOGARTY:   in place. Excuse me just a moment. The main contact   was the main contact, in terms of the centre and the day program, the Team Leader or Team Leaders? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:  I think in your statement you refer to there being a turnover of Team Leaders? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Can you hazard an estimate of   

SUZIE: I could remember six. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. 

SUZIE: But, you know, could have been more than that. I just   

MR FOGARTY: This is the two   

SUZIE: I just couldn't keep track. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Were you notified of changes? 


MR FOGARTY: How would you find out? 

SUZIE: If you   I used to take Toby into the centre on a Wednesday after speech therapy and if I wanted to speak to the Team Leader, I would usually find out if it was the same one or a different one. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Did   were any   did you   were meetings offered with the   with you   


MR FOGARTY:   and Rob at the centre? 




MR FOGARTY: What about newsletters or emails to you, did any of those ever come from Afford to the day program   

SUZIE: No, not really. 

MR FOGARTY:      being your son? 


MR FOGARTY: Were there ever any social events that families were invited that you were aware of? 

SUZIE: Yes, I attended one. We weren't able to attend others because they were at night and we just didn't have anybody to leave Toby with. But yeah, I did attend one. 

MR FOGARTY: When was   was that, do you recall? 

SUZIE: I'm not   I think it was just a lunch. There were other carers from other day programs there. It wasn't just a Mount Druitt one. I think it was   

MR FOGARTY: Was it just Afford or was it other   

SUZIE: It was Afford but I think there were carers from different sites there. 

MR FOGARTY: And where was this event? 

SUZIE: I think it was   it was up at a restaurant at Penrith. 

MR FOGARTY: And did Toby come with you? 

SUZIE: No, he was at day program. Rob was at work. 

MR FOGARTY: Did you   did you ever meet any senior   I withdraw that. Your contact was with the Team Leader? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Did you have some contact with the district manager? I think you gave some evidence that I think you can remember their names. 

SUZIE: We had contact with the district manager when we went in after one of these incidents, and I recall that he had left and there was a new district manager had just started. 


SUZIE: And he attended that lunch as well. 

MR FOGARTY: Right. That you just spoke of? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. Was there a particular purpose for that lunch, that you recall? 

SUZIE: No, I don't, not that I can recall. 

MR FOGARTY: Did you ever   other than Mr Herald calling you on one occasion, did you have contact with any other Afford person outside the day program, any executive or   


MR FOGARTY: Was that ever something offered to you, do you recall? 


MR FOGARTY: You gave some evidence that there was a communication book for Toby and you've   in your statement you've annexed I think May 2019 and October 29 some extracts of a communication book you still have? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And he had one at school? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: What, if any, differences did you observe between how the school did it and how Afford did it? 

SUZIE: The school was   would fill it in almost on a daily basis. Afford maybe once, twice a week, depending on the Lifestyle Assistant he had during the day. 


SUZIE: Some Lifestyle Assistants filled it out regularly. Others wouldn't fill it out at all, so it just depended on which Lifestyle Assistant had looked after Toby on the day as to whether it was filled out or not. 

MR FOGARTY: Some of the entries refer to Afford staff, so they don't specify, is that right, they don't specify   

SUZIE: That's right. 

MR FOGARTY:   which person it was?

SUZIE: They don't specify who it was. 

MR FOGARTY: Right. And I think in your statement you estimate that the completion rate was 60 per cent of the time. 

SUZIE: Yes, about that. 

MR FOGARTY: Did the communication book live in Toby's backpack or how did it   

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Come back and forth? 

SUZIE: It did, yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Did you raise concerns about the communication book with them, with Afford? 

SUZIE: No, I don't think so. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. So a very different experience to the communication book you did at school? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: In your statement, in a similar vein in terms of communication and knowing what was happening you say:

"We had no idea who we were handing Toby over to each day, what he was doing."

Moving to the quoting and invoicing systems of Afford, and you've given some information about that, I think in your statement you refer to   and this is probably directed to you, Rob   or the plan manager's involvement but the system being confusing and inconsistent. 

ROB: Very much so. 

MR FOGARTY: Is one issue I think you identify in the statement, identify the time of invoicing would be irregular and inconsistent. Secondly, is it fair to say it wasn't clear to either of you how the funding categories aligned with the services provided from time to time? 

ROB: Correct. 

MR FOGARTY: Third, quote amounts for a period were sometimes more than the funding allocated for that period for Toby? 

ROB: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And then, as you've given evidence, you had to cut his attendance at Club Afford. The effect was that you would cut back that service or ask the NDIA for more funding to keep up with what was being required? 

ROB: Correct. 

MR FOGARTY: You were charged a temporary transformation payment, a TTP, that's something that you refer to in the statement? 

ROB: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And Rob, what do you understand that to be now? 

ROB: Well, at the time it came, it was mentioned in the last service agreement. It was never mentioned before in any previous service agreements. 

MR FOGARTY: When you say the last one, would that have been 2021, 2020? 

ROB: Yeah. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. 

ROB: Anyway, I didn't know what it was, so I googled it. It was a temporary transition payment or transformation payment   


ROB:   for Afford to get their systems, I guess, up aligned to the new NDIS system. The NDIS has been in for, since 2016 and I didn't think it was appropriate that they should still be charging it in 2021, even though they might be entitled to it. 

MR FOGARTY: The Support Coordinator took that up with   

ROB: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY:   with Afford, didn't she? 

ROB: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Querying why that was being charged; do you recall? 

ROB: We were short on funding so we were looking for ways to   

MR FOGARTY: To trim. 

ROB:   trim. 

MR FOGARTY: Do you recall what response you received from Afford about the TTP. 

ROB: I can't recall. 

SUZIE: Got no response. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. 

SUZIE: But in saying that, it was shortly after that that we withdrew Toby altogether. 

MR FOGARTY: Yes, we're talking 2021. 


MR FOGARTY: If you could be shown another document which is behind hearing bundle A, tab 53. Perhaps a hard copy too could be provided to you, Suzie and Rob. Excuse me one moment, Commissioners, I think I've pulled up the wrong document. No, I'm sorry. Yes, that's the correct document. Thank you. On the first page, Rob and Suzie, you see the heading is a Statement from Afford. 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And then along the left hand side as you look at the itemised part, small writing, soon to be five months the date from 10 November 2020 to 31 March 2021. And then if you work across those small figures there in the middle, there seems to be a total of $871. 

SUZIE: Mm hmm. 

MR FOGARTY: Do you recall receiving this statement? 

SUZIE: Yes, I do. 

MR FOGARTY: What was your reaction to this statement? 

SUZIE: I died when I saw $871. 

MR FOGARTY: Why is that? 

SUZIE: Well, because I didn't want to have to pay $871 in a lump sum and I didn't understand why it went back for five months. Why weren't we being billed monthly for the activities that Toby was supposedly doing? Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: And so you understood this to be that those activities that you were talking about? 

SUZIE: Yes, correct. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. So, this appears, from your recollection, this was a document that was sent with five months' worth of those fees? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. 

SUZIE: And then this was when a new Team Leader has started, so I presume she was going back through and seeing that these hadn't been charged. So she was issuing everybody with a statement. 

MR FOGARTY: And I should say that it's to March 2021 so this is final   

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Towards the end of his time with them. Did you go back to Afford about this document? 

SUZIE: I actually rang the Team Leader and I said, you know, "$871, I can't afford to pay that. I'd like to pay it off." So I deposited $100 in an account and I again spoke with her and said, "I've put money into an account. I'm not sure if it's   I've got no receipt or anything from anybody to say that it's been received. Can you check up on it before I pay any more?" I never heard anything back from her. So I didn't pay any more because I was waiting to make sure that the money was going to where it was meant to. 


CHAIR: Mr Fogarty, I notice at the top it says page 34 of 57. 


CHAIR: I'll leave you to work out in due course whether there's any significance to the pagination. 

MR FOGARTY: Yes. Thank you. Thank you, Chair. 

In terms of this $871 fee, were you ever provided with another document that itemised the activities? 


MR FOGARTY: Alright. On the next page, see it's page 1 of 1 in the top right and there's a tax invoice, what's termed a tax invoice from Afford day program for $164. This isn't itemised either in terms of the activities? No. Did you receive an activity by activity itemised document to support this; do you recall? 


MR FOGARTY: The date of issue says, if you look just above, you see the Mount Druitt activities fees, 1 April 2021 to 30 April 2021. It says date 5 March 2021 and then due date, 15 March 2021 in a little box. You can see that? 

SUZIE: Am I looking at   sorry, am I looking at the   

MR FOGARTY: Tax invoice, the top of the page should have a number 1188, top right corner. So that's the Royal Commission   

SUZIE: No, I don't have that one. Sorry. 

MR FOGARTY: Should be the second page. 


MR FOGARTY: I'll just check.

CHAIR: Mr Fogarty, fascinating as this is, I think we may have got the point. 

SUZIE: Beg your pardon. 

MR FOGARTY: If you would indulge me, Chair, just for a moment with respect to this particular document? 

CHAIR: I'll indulge you just for a moment. 

SUZIE: Yes, I can. 

MR FOGARTY: Let's cut to the point. In April 2021 both of you and Toby were in New Zealand visiting his next brother up; correct? 

SUZIE: Correct. 

MR FOGARTY: You'd advised Afford that you were doing that in an email; correct? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: You then in June I think received this invoice? 

SUZIE: Correct. 

MR FOGARTY: For activities fees in April when, in fact, Toby was not even in the country; is that correct? 

SUZIE: It was actually in May and, yeah, correct. 

MR FOGARTY: You were away for about two months   I think April   

SUZIE: We were away for about eight weeks. 

MR FOGARTY: Did that surprise you that you were being charged activity fees when he wasn't there? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: Thank you, Chair. 

The last document I want to ask you some questions about is the document behind hearing bundle D, tab 25. It's an Afford document. I'll just ask for a copy to be provided to you, and it's only the front page 1 of 13 that I want to ask you about, only briefly. The next document, it should have Policy and Procedure, Abuse and Neglect. Not the document on the screen at present.

CHAIR: Which tab are you referring? 

MR FOGARTY: Tab 25 of hearing bundle D.


MR FOGARTY: D for   

Have you got that document in front of you? It's just the one page. And you see   just going to wait for the Chair and Commissioners   same document, Commissioners, I showed to Sally this morning. The middle of that page, you see at 4.0 Policy, see that, Suzie and Rob? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

MR FOGARTY: 4.2 it says:

"We expect that everyone who is associated with Afford and is involved in providing services to Afford clients will share Afford's commitment to maintaining an organisational culture that  "

And before I proceed in abundant caution, the document at the bottom says, date approved, 12 March 2020. From that time on, until 2021 when Toby finished up with Afford, was it your experience that   this is suggested in 4.2.1 ought to be the case   that the organisational culture of Afford upheld the values and dignity of its clients. Is that your experience? 


MR FOGARTY: 4.2.2:

"Build trusting relationships with Afford clients, family, advocates and carers."

Was that your experience? 


MR FOGARTY: Underneath that, 4.2.3:

"Provide services in an environment that is safe and welcoming for everyone."

Was that your experience? 


MR FOGARTY: 4.2.4:

"Empowers clients by helping them to understand their rights."


MR FOGARTY: Not to your knowledge? 


MR FOGARTY: 4.2.5:

"Ensures everyone feels safe to raise concerns."

Was that your experience? 


MR FOGARTY: And lastly underneath that  

CHAIR: If you wouldn't mind just use a word to answer because we need to transcribe the answer in the transcript. 

MR FOGARTY:  Is that your experience? 


MR FOGARTY: Then lastly 4.2.6:

"Respond proactively to concerns when they arise."


MR FOGARTY: Is it fair to say that mid June you received a tax invoice that raised a similar concern that you were referring to, I think Rob in particular, that was essentially the last straw for you to   

SUZIE: Correct. 

MR FOGARTY:   take Toby from Afford? And today he receives 1:1 support and is that all covered under his NDIS funding? 

SUZIE: Yes, it is. 

MR FOGARTY: Has his funding had to increase between being at Afford to this new model, as I call it; do you know? 

SUZIE: No, it hasn't. It hasn't had to increase, no. 

MR FOGARTY: No, it remained the same to March?

ROB: The actual hourly rate has gone down. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. What are the benefits or pluses of this new model? 

SUZIE: We have a lot more choice. We have a lot more control over what Toby does. We have a lot more communication with his carer. He gets to pick what he wants to do on the day. He still joins up with another group of carers and people with disability on a daily basis and they all go and do activities together. If Toby doesn't want to join in with that activity, then his care worker will take him to do something else. 


SUZIE: So it's all about him, and not   it's all about fitting in with him and not him fitting in with everybody else. 

MR FOGARTY: And Rob, what about the billing and the invoicing? 

ROB: It's much easier. She sends us an invoice every week. Copies are sent to the plan manager and then we get a copy as well. 

MR FOGARTY: Alright. 

ROB: She lists out her hours for every day she spends with him. 

MR FOGARTY: And do you have a written communication book or an oral one? 

SUZIE: No, we speak to her every afternoon and every morning. 

MR FOGARTY: Right. My last question is in terms of the Afford   well, the day program, the congregate setting. Do you think there's still a place, Suzie, for such a service? 

SUZIE: I do, but I think that it doesn't suit every person with a disability. I think that people like Toby and the other people with disabilities that we've heard about today, I think they need more than a day program can give them. I think there needs to be a lot more consistency with the day program. The day program seemed to be cookie cutter, you know, all exactly the same, whereas a lot of clients need their own version, you know, they need something different. They need something more   

MR FOGARTY: Thank you. 

SUZIE:   than Afford. 


ROB: I really think that the Team Leader role is just too big for one person. 


ROB: I'd hate to do this job, it's horrendous. They're a human resources manager who's got to deal with the clients and their families. They've got to deal with the staffing rosters. What else is it? The operations manager working out what activities are going to be done during the day. 


ROB: They've got to look after the medical needs of the clients. Yeah, I guess the accounts receivable, accounts payable, any financial control to reporting up to head office. Then on top of that they've got all the regulatory overview of the Disability Act. For one person that is horrendous. There need to be more support. 

MR FOGARTY: Thank you, Suzie and Rob. That ends my questions, Chair.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. If it's okay with you I'll ask my colleagues   

ROB: Sure.

CHAIR:   whether they have any questions. I'll ask Commissioner McEwin first.

COMMISSIONER McEWIN: Thank you. One quick question from me. Firstly, thank you very much for your evidence. So is it fair to say or characterise the current arrangement with the NDIS package is meeting what you want for Toby? 

SUZIE: Definitely.

ROB: Yes. 


CHAIR: Commissioner Bennett. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: You spoke with pride about Toby finishing his HSC? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: And you talked about the work experience that he had had at Coles? 

SUZIE: Yes. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: Did he enjoy that? 

SUZIE: I think he did. But it was very, very short period of time because his concentration is not very good. But yes, I think he did enjoy it. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: So two questions I have. Do you feel that there were some more choices for Toby when he left school? Maybe further training or something that could have helped him, rather than a day program? 

SUZIE: I personally don't think so. He's got a very limited attention span to start with. Doesn't follow orders, follow instructions very well. And I just don't think he had the mental capacity to hold down any sort of work. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: But the day program wasn't right for him. He needed more; is that what you would say? 

SUZIE: He   he needs   I think he needs more care than the day program could provide him with. I think that there's not enough staff to provide the one on one that a lot of these clients need. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: But do you feel his skills, his independence or capacity building went backwards and now it's moved? 

SUZIE: Yes, I do. 


SUZIE: I do. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: So the day program you felt didn't give him that   experiences for that journey of independence that you refer to in your submission. 

SUZIE: Yes, the day program   

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: And you're finding the new arrangements do give   

SUZIE: Yes. The day program seems to be fitting in with the group with what the group activity is on that day. If it's not something that interests Toby and there's not enough   not enough variety, there's not enough carers to take him and do something that he wants to do, yeah. I think if   what he has now is giving him a bit more independence on making his own decisions over what he wants to do. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: So it's building his capacity? 

SUZIE: Yes, rather than just fitting in with the group. 

ROB: He'll do the shopping now with his carer. He'll pay for stuff, he can self tap and go, and he wasn't ever able to do that, buy what he wants. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: Did you feel he went a bit backwards in that skill capacity since leaving school? 

SUZIE: I wouldn't say that he went backwards but I wouldn't say he moved forward. 

ROB: That's true. 

COMMISSIONER BENNETT: Thank you both very much.

CHAIR: In your statement at paragraph 78, you refer to engaging plan managers in December 2018. What prompted you to do that? 

SUZIE: I didn't really want to have to deal with that myself. And we went to, like, an information day at the school and they had plan managers there. They explained what plan managers do, and I just thought that would be one less thing I have to worry about. They could take care of all the bills, speech therapy, etcetera, and that was why we decided to go with a plan manager, rather than an agency manager or do it ourselves.

CHAIR: Did you find that helpful? 

SUZIE: Yes and no. Yes, because we didn't have the added responsibility of wading through the bills and paying them ourselves, but we also didn't know exactly where all the funds were going. 

ROB: You lose a bit of control. 


CHAIR: And now a little later, in fact, well, in November 2020 you're introduced to a Support Coordinator. You refer to this at paragraph 85. Again, what prompted that change? 

SUZIE: We were looking to try and get extra support from the NDIS, and another Lifestyle Assistant that other families had benefitted from having a Support Coordinator help them. So we decided that we would engage a Support Coordinator to try and help boost Toby's funding because we knew we weren't going to have enough for 12 months at Afford.

CHAIR: And as a result of that, if I follow what you've said in the statement correctly, there was an extra $15,000 provided through the NDIA? 

SUZIE: Correct. But it still wasn't going to be enough for Toby to attend Afford for 12 months. So that was another reason why we made the decision to find our own Support Coordinator.

CHAIR: In that paragraph you added in parentheses:

"Who was not the Support Coordinator, who was not part of Afford." 

SUZIE: No. The Support Coordinator was not part of Afford.

CHAIR: Yes, I understand. I'm just wondering why you put that in. 

SUZIE: Because the Lifestyle Assistant who put us in contact with her was a Afford Lifestyle Assistant. So I just wanted to make sure that you didn't think that it was jobs for the boys.

CHAIR: Good. Thank you. I understand. Thank you very much. I'm just going to check if there's anyone else who will seek to ask you questions. I suspect not, unless someone leaps up and says they do. Thank you very much. In that case, thank you so much for coming to us today to give evidence, Suzie and Rob, and telling us about Toby and his story and your story. We're really very grateful to you and also for the information and insight you've given us. It's very helpful. 

SUZIE: Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. 


CHAIR: Mr Griffin, you were about to say something? 

MR GRIFFIN: Can I indicate, Chair and Commissioners, that we're starting at 12 o'clock tomorrow.

CHAIR: Yes. 

MR GRIFFIN: From 12 to 1.30 we'll have the evidence from Dianne. Then there will be a 15 minute break and we will have evidence from Erynn from 1.45 to 2.45, followed by another 15 minute break, and then the evidence of Samantha Taylor through to about 4.15. One of the reasons I say that is if people fancy having lunch they should have lunch before 12. 

CHAIR: Yes, thank you. I should say that this is entirely my responsibility. We're starting at 12 for something that I regret is unavoidable, but we will start at 12. The other thing is that it's been brought to my attention that instead of "day programs", I said from time to time "day care centres". As Mr Fogarty will know, this is an example of parapraxis which is dealt with in Sigmund Freud's introductory lectures to psychoanalysis, lectures 2 and 3. So that's an example of parapraxis that Mr Fogarty will explain to all other people at the bar table. We'll resume then at 12 tomorrow.