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

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Report on Public hearing 23 – Preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in disability services (a case study)


The Disability Royal Commission held Public hearing 23 in May 2022. We have written a report about this hearing. This video is a summary of the report.

The hearing looked at the experiences of three young people with disability; Jason, Toby and Simon (not their real names).

The hearing looked at the organisation Afford who provided a day program for young people with intellectual disability who also have high support needs. The day program was at Mount Druitt in Sydney and ran from 2014 to 2021.

Jason, Toby and Simon tool part in different activities in the day program.

Afford support worker, Daniel Nuumaalii, abused several people with disability taking part in the day program, including Jason and Toby. Mr Nuumaalii took photos and videos of them, some during personal care. He sent them to other people or posted them on social media sites without consent. Mr Nuumaalii was arrested and charged on 1 May 2020. He pled guilty to 26 offences and went to jail.


The report made 29 findings covering Afford’s:

  • response to Mr Nuumaalii’s abuse

  • delivery of services

  • culture

  • governance.

Some of these findings are:

  • Afford’s CEO and Board failed to provide a written apology to the people with disability abused by Mr Nuumaalii. Afford did not meaningfully engage with them or their families to discuss redress or support they might require. 

  • Afford said they could not investigate these issues themselves because of the police investigation which was under way; this was not correct. An independent investigator investigated the abuse. But the investigation did not identify what caused or contributed to Mr Nuumaalii’s offending behaviour. It did not identify what Afford should do to prevent abuse in the future.

  • From 2016 to 2020, the number of participants in the Mount Druitt day program increased significantly. The premises used by Afford could not accommodate this growth. There overcrowding:

    • affected the quality of services

    • led to health and safety risks

    • increased behaviours of concern among participants.

Over time, participants had less choice and control of their activities at the day program.

  • Afford staff were paid a commission to bring in new participants. This risked a conflict of interest between the interest of the participants, and the interest of the staff member looking to maximise the size of their commission.

  • Staff did not have access to accurate information about the individual support needs of each participant at the Mount Druitt day program. They did not get training on their needs, or training on the rights of people with disability generally.

  • There was high staff turnover which impacted communication with parents and being able to provide high quality services.

  • There were no adequate systems in place for families to get information about participants, be notified of issues or concerns, or to provide feedback.

  • The process of making and handling complaints was not explained properly to families and not followed by Afford.

  • At the time of the hearing, no members of Afford’s Board had lived experience of disability, and not many had experience in providing disability services.

  • From 2015 to 2021 Afford grew significantly. It prioritised growth and financial matters over safety and quality of its services.

More information

To read the full report, visit our website. Search ‘Public hearing 23’.