This report was tabled in the Queensland Parliament on 12 September 2023. It focuses on the provision and regulation of level 3 residential services in Queensland, however many of the concerns that are discussed in the report relate to the broader supported accommodation sector, being inclusive of level 1 and 2 residential services and other kinds of shared-living arrangements in which Queenslanders with significant support needs are residing.
Critical systemic issues identified in the report include:
- Complex regulatory and legislative frameworks, at all levels of government. While the legislative environment is complex, key elements critical to the well-being of residents are also not addressed, including a regulated fees and charges schedule.
- Fragmented and disjointed safeguarding mechanisms.
- Blurred lines of responsibility and potential conflicts of interest resulting from the dual role of providers as accommodation and service providers. This is heightened if residents are also National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, as many accommodation providers (or closely related entities) are also NDIS service providers.
- Standards of accommodation, food and services provided to residents.
- The potential for level 3 services to be closed environments, where residents have limited access to externally provided services or opportunities to participate in broader community life.
- The suitability of this model of accommodation and service provision to meet the needs of residents with complex support needs, many of whom have an intellectual disability, acquired brain injury, mental health concerns or issues with drug and alcohol use. The number of residents with mental health concerns is reported to have increased significantly over the last decade, with entry into level 3 residential services now being a recognised discharge pathway for people from authorised mental health facilities who are without family or other supports.
The report includes only one recommendation – that a Parliamentary Inquiry be conducted into the provision and regulation of supported accommodation in Queensland.
A Parliamentary Inquiry will have the necessary resources, time, transparency and accountability to fully investigate the operations of the sector, hear from stakeholders and those with lived experience, and make recommendations to improve the sustainability and suitability of this type of accommodation in the future.
At the time of tabling the Queensland Government accepted the Public Advocate's recommendation for a Parliamentary Inquiry, which will be referred to the Community Support and Services Committee.