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LISA... is a parent support and lobby group, for parents and families with a family member having an intellectual or multiple disability, and living in a supported accommodation group home in the State of Victoria, Australia.
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Monday, July 08 2013

The majority of DHS supported accommodation group homes have two basic funding avenues, (a) support service funding (staff wages and overheads) and (b) service management funding (day to day resident living expenses).

In this evaluation, we will consider just the service management funding, which    originates mainly from money paid into the residents’ trust fund, which is managed by State Trustees.

Each resident of the group home pay an amount each month to their trust fund.  This amount is equal to cost of the three components in their financial statement, which is produced by the house supervisor.  The three components are, rent, housekeeping and personal expenditure.  In dollar terms, the range is around, $800 to $1000 per month.

State Trustees send the rent component directly to DHS.  The housekeeping and personal expenditure components are sent to card accounts at the house – the group home.

There is, however, a small difference between the amount received by State Trustees from the resident’s administrator  (from their DSP), and that sent to the house.  The positive difference is kept in the residents trust fund for special requirements.  This money can be accessed by the house supervisor, but only with the authority of the resident’s administrator signing a special purchase request form (this is the first slush fund).

The personal expenditure money paid to the house by State Trustees from the resident’s trust fund, is paid into a house card account, and is accounted for on the CERS forms, a copy of which is sent to the resident’s administrator.

The housekeeping money paid to the house by State Trustees from the resident’s trust fund, is paid into a house card account, and is used to purchase food items, household items and pay utility accounts, etc, etc.  When the excess in housekeeping account gets to a DHS determined level, this money is sent back to State Trustees to be kept in an account to cover any unforseen financial circumstances.  Justification for withdrawal from this account is a special purchase form signed by all administrators. (this is the second slush fund).

CERS (Client Expenditure Recording System) Manual

Posted by: HATTON AT 09:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, June 22 2013

The majority of people living in supported accommodation group homes throughout the state of Victoria, are those with intellectual or multiple disabilities.

Any degree of reduced intellectual capacity significantly reduces a person’s quality of life through limiting their self-determination.  Therefore, all avenues which are at all meaningful and enjoyable to the person must be sought and enhanced.

The most common avenue of enjoyment for almost all people, is food and drink.  It is vital for the full enjoyment of food, to have a good set of one’s own teeth, and good gums. 

Yet a large number of people with intellectual or multiple disabilities, especially those in supported accommodation group homes - most especially those in DHS group homes have poor teeth or none at all.  And, most can’t wear dentures for obvious reasons.

Most of the poor dental care culture came from the questionable care in the, then, large institutions – a culture which filtered out to the, now, group homes in the community.

Not only is in-home dental care frequently inconsistent, but so are regular visitations to dental care professionals.

The general culture of group home support staff , their management and state trustees is that residents cannot afford, (a) a degree of private health care and, (b) dental care other than the ‘dental hospital’ and all the associated delays.  Whereas many residents can afford private health and dental care at present, albeit just. 

We, therefore,  question, (a) why most residents of DHS group homes do not have a degree of private health care, especially hospital cover – as many residents are, as a result of their disability, intolerant of public services and, (b) why most residents of DHS group homes do not have regular dental checks every six months by a local dentist or a specialist dental surgeon where necessary to accommodate their disability.

Government policy, as depicted by DHS care policies, standards and values, is that people with disabilities shall be supported to have a lifestyle as close as possible to that of the general community.  The above proposals are very common within the general community.

We question there is such an acceptance by government bureaucrats that our most disadvantaged citizens are currently and consistently treated as second class citizens in this regard,

Posted by: HATTON AT 09:25 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Thursday, June 13 2013

Increasing Skills and Self Determination

of People with Disabilities

There is far too much ‘minder care’ rather than ‘quality of life care throughout the range of support services available to people with disabilities.

People with disabilities are often excluded from financial services and are frequently at risk of financial exploitation

Financial literacy helps people to make better financial decisions and act on them, given the opportunities available to them.

It is not just about increasing people’s knowledge of money matters and financial skills.  It is also about people’s attitudes.

Financial literacy is a combination of financial awareness, knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours necessary to make sound financial decisions and ultimately achieve individual financial wellbeing.

Financial literacy is about understanding money and finances and being able to confidently apply that knowledge to make effective financial decisions.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is reviewing their 2011 National Financial Literacy Strategy (PDF 905KB) and developing a new one for 2014-16National Financial Literacy Strategy 2014/16

Posted by: HATTON AT 06:23 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, June 10 2013

National Framework for Reducing the
 Use of Restrictive Practices

Council on Community and On 3 May 2013, Standing Disability Services Ministers considered a draft proposed National Framework for Reducing the Use of Restrictive Practices in the Disability Service Sector (the proposed National Framework).  The proposed National Framework was developed jointly by the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments and based on consultation to date from non-government stakeholders.

LISA Comment:  The first consideration of Restrictive Practices is Containment /Restraint , for which there is considerable written material and discussion, especially by the Senior Practitioner in Victoria.

Whereas, we look at those restrictive practices having the primary intention of  maintaining psychological power over people, especially vulnerable people and their often almost equally vulnerable stakeholders.

Current captive market, charity hand-out, block funded, support services have a natural and traditional restrictive practice culture that the consumer and their stakeholders should consider themselves lucky to get anything, and must never, ever, complain.

Power over people, the consumers and their stakeholders, is supported by the consumer and their stake holders being seen as lesser people by the captive market service providers as a result of having to take support service funding from government revenue the public purse.

This power over people is maintained by captive market service providers having no reason to retain consumers or provide customer service and satisfaction.  They being as difficult and covert as possible with their service provision per se, and especially difficult and covert when their service level, quality, accountability and transparency is questioned by the consumer and/or their stakeholders.


Posted by: HATTON AT 08:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, June 10 2013

Safeguarding People with Disability
 Developing Policies and Procedures for Service Providers

Deakin University, in partnership with Uniting Care Community Options, invites you to participate in a study which investigates ways of safeguarding children and adults with disability against neglect and abuse from staff employed by, or working with, government and community service organisations, including ancillary staff. Your anonymous answers to the questions will be used to develop evidence-based policies and procedures for disability service providers. There will be three rounds of questions, each taking about 20 minutes to complete. The completion date for the initial round is 28 June.

If you have any questions concerning this project, please contact Associate Professor Keith McVilly at or Dr Goetz Ottmann at, or telephone 03 9239 2639.


Posted by: HATTON AT 11:01 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, June 07 2013

DisabilityCare Australia goes live!

Apart from having general access to this new website, people with disabilities can complete a questionnaire - My Access Checker - to help determine their likelihood of being eligible for support from DisabilityCare Australia.

LISA Comment:  No matter all the hype, we should not forget the original intention of the NDIS.  That is to eliminate the waiting list for support services, and ensure all support services are entitlement based - not the present charity hand-out based services where consumers are considered lucky to get what they get, and should never, ever, complain. 

A major factor to achieving true entitlement support services, is eliminating the entrenched culture amongst many of the current support services of placing the consumer and their stakeholders far from the centre of service provision.

Further NDIS intention is that all with disabilities be assessed for their ongoing needs.  And, that these needs be fulfilled with a tailored, not a generic ISP.  There is currently a cone of silence in respect to NDIS ISPs for present group home residents and those needing group homes.

We seek your views and comments on how you feel the NDIS (DisabilityCare Australia) will, in practice, be so much better, or not better than the present support services. 
Note:  Anonymous comment can be sent via our mail address below.         

Extra 1:  Residents of Supported Accommodation Group Homes, hit hard by the
                  State Government of Victoria.

There is no restriction on the distribution of material appearing on the LISA Website. or that in the LISA e-Bulletins.  The term "LISA Limited Distribution List", just indicates the smaller of two lists.  anonymous

Tel:  03-9434-3810:  Email: or
NOTE:  We are always interested in feedback and information; general, specific, good or bad.
If you wish anonymously: Our mail address is, 73 Nepean Street, Watsonia, 3087


Posted by: HATTON AT 06:03 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, June 07 2013

Invitation to all families
 caring for people with disabilities

Wednesday 24 July 2013
9.30am for a 10am start followed by a light lunch at 12.30m
Mornington Peninsula Shire Council Chambers
Cnr Main St and Queen St, Mornington (Mel. Ref. 104 D10)

                                                        Presentations by:

Caroline Mulcahy
, CEO, Carers Victoria

Alexandra Gunning, Director, Engagement NDIS, Barwon Launch Transition Agency

John Chesterman, Manager, Policy and Education, Office of the Public Advocate

Janet Rice Victorian Greens Lead Senate Candidate

Rev Steve Terrell, Presbytery Minister Mission & Education Uniting Church

                   Facilitated by Max Jackson (JacksonRyan Partners)

Fantastic opportunity to meet those who have the power to shape the future

Get the facts       Ask the questions         Join the discussion

Addressing the questions:

  How will DisabilityCare Australia meet the needs of your family?
  How will DisabilityCare Australia provide for ageing carers needing
   housing for their adult offspring?

  When will the legal standing of parents & carers under the current
   Guardianship laws be resolved?

  How can families support each other in testing times?
  The importance of communities engaging with people who have a
   disability, their families & carers

 Light lunch and refreshments will be provided. To book a ticket to this event please go to or phone 5950 1685

For more information, please phone Marie on 5983 8785

Tel:  03-9434-3810:  Email: or
NOTE:  We are always interested in feedback and information; general, specific, good or bad.
If you wish anonymously: Our mail address is, 73 Nepean Street, Watsonia, 3087


Posted by: HATTON AT 05:55 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, May 19 2013

Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Victoria

Increase in board and lodging fees for the residents of department managed group homes

This information sheet has been developed by the department to respond to frequently asked questions about the Board and Lodging Fee, to be implemented from December 2013, for people with a disability living in department managed group homes.

Residents are concerned the new fee doesn't seem fair - how much is the department going to contribute to the cost of supported accommodation?

The new board lodging fee will bring the average contribution per resident for supported accommodation to approximately $17,500 per annum. The average cost to Government to support a resident in department managed supported accommodation is $128,000 per annum. The fee will cover most of a residents' day to day living expenses.

Who received notification of the new Board and Lodging Fee?

The new Board and Lodging Fee applies to group home residents who pay rent to the Department of Human Services (the department). In-line with section 66 of the Disability Act 2006, notice of the new fee structure including a fee increase was sent to each resident and their administrator. This is the same notification process that has been used for all previous fee increases.

The Department has provided seven months notice of the change (the Act specifies that only two months notice be provided when implementing a fee increase). This was to provide people with an opportunity to understand the change and how it will impact their individual circumstances.

The department is also providing information about the new fee to external stakeholder groups including the Disability Services Commissioner, the Office of the Public Advocate and VALID.

How can staff assist residents and their administrators?

An announcement to staff in relation to the new Board and Lodging Fee was made as early as possible. A comprehensive staff information plan has been developed and will be implemented over the coming months. The plan includes information bulletins such as this Frequently Asked Questions bulletin, divisional information sessions and working groups.

Divisions will be collating issues raised by staff, residents and administrators to ensure that the development of communications materials respond to those specific concerns.

Can we have more detail about how Board and Lodging will work? For example, how much money will be allocated to each group home for food?

The information to residents, administrators and disability accommodation staff, distributed from 3 May 2013, only notified people of a change to the fee structure for department managed group homes and that this would include a fee increase.

Work has commenced to review current policies and practice and to identify changes that are required to implement the new fee structure. Divisional working groups will commence shortly to progress this work over the coming months and will utilise the experience of operational staff to ensure effective policy development.

Detailed information will be provided to staff, residents and administrators as this work is finalised.

What will the actual dollar amount of the new Board and Lodging Fee be?

The next increase to Centrelink payments, including the Disability Support Pension and Commonwealth Rent Assistance (Rent Assistance) payment, will occur on 20 September 2013. The actual dollar amount of the new Board and Lodging Fee cannot be calculated until the amount of this increase is known.

As a guide only, if the new Board and Lodging Fee was applied at the current rates of Disability Support Pension and Rent Assistance, the dollar amount would be approximately $1460 per month.

Note: If residents or administrators enquire, this figure should only be used as a guide to assist them in understanding the impact of the fee increase to be implemented on 1 December 2013.

How can residents dispute the notice of increase with VCAT within 28 days if they don't know the actual dollar amount?

The notice of fee increase provides sufficient detail about how the fee will be calculated and what will be included in the fee to enable a resident or their administrator to apply to VCAT to dispute the notice.

How will the implementation of the new fee impact the workload of house supervisors, operational managers and CERS officers?

When the Board and Lodging Fee is introduced, the overall process for managing housekeeping funds in a group home will be similar to the current process. Review of current policies and practice has identified opportunities to reduce workload and in some cases remove some activities entirely, such as the completion of housekeeping plans.

Developments, such as the introduction of Westpac Debit Mastercards, will reduce workload and provide greater flexibility in how finances are managed in the group home. For example, staff currently make multiple trips to the ATM over several days to collect sufficient funds to pay large utility bills. This will no longer be required as the Debit Mastercards enable online and telephone purchasing. Also, utility bills will not be paid by group home staff after 1 December 2013.

The divisional working groups will further consider opportunities to achieve workload efficiencies.

Who will apply for the Rent Assistance payment?

It will be the administrator's role to advise Centrelink that the resident's accommodation details have changed. Centrelink will then assess the person to determine if Rent Assistance is payable. The Rent Assistance will be paid directly to the resident via their administrator.

The department will work with Centrelink to discuss opportunities to ensure this is a smooth administrative process for residents and their administrators. Further advice will be provided closer to the implementation of the new Board and Lodging Fee.

What if the administrator does not apply for Rent Assistance or is considered ineligible?

The Board and Lodging Fee is equivalent to 75 per cent of the Disability Support Pension and 100 per cent of the Rent Assistance. If the person does not apply for the Rent Assistance, they will still be required to pay the equivalent amount.

If the person is not eligible for Rent Assistance as a result of the Centrelink income test, they will still be required to pay the equivalent amount of the full Rent Assistance payment.

If the person is not eligible for the Rent Assistance for other reasons, this will be considered on an individual basis.

Residents might have other income, such as Mobility Allowance payments and Continence Aids payments. Is this income considered in the calculation of the Board and Lodging Fee?

No. The Board and Lodging Fee will not consider other sources of a person's income, such as other allowances or subsidies that a person may receive to assist them in meeting their personal expenses.

What happens if a resident or administrator feels they cannot afford the new Board and Lodging Fee?

The Board and Lodging Fee will affect the income of individuals in different ways and should be considered on a case by case basis.

The Department has provided seven months notice of the change (the Act specifies that only two months notice be provided when implementing a fee increase). This was to provide people with an opportunity to understand the change and how it will impact their individual circumstances.

If a resident or their administrator feels they are unable to afford the new Board and Lodging Fee an application can be made for consideration under the 'Undue Financial Hardship' process.

What does the Undue Financial Hardship process involve?

An application form is completed by the administrator that provides details of the resident's total income and expenditure. The application also seeks additional information that should be taken into consideration. For example a resident may have very high medical costs not covered by Medicare or the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme that need to be considered.

Support will be provided to staff and managers involved with this process including additional guidance around application of the policy and systems to ensure consistent decision making across the state.

Will there be reimbursement processes for residents who don't consume food because they use a PEG tube or because they are absent from the group home?

There will still be a process for reimbursing residents whose food intake is significantly reduced. The method for assessing and calculating reimbursements will be reviewed through divisional working groups to ensure there is consistency across all department managed group homes.

How will the Board and Lodging Fee apply to residents of Plenty Residential Services and ex-St Nicholas group homes who already pay a Board and Lodging Fee?

The new Board and Lodging Fee of 75 percent of Disability Support Pension and 100 percent of Rent Assistance will apply to all group homes where residents pay rent to the department. This includes ex-St Nicholas and Plenty Residential Service group homes.

The letter that was sent to residents and families in early May 2013 provided a generic list of inclusions that will be provided to all people paying a Board and Lodging Fee.

Residents of ex-St Nicholas and Plenty Residential Service group homes will continue to be provided with the same service items that they currently receive.

New residents who move into ex-St Nicholas and Plenty Residential Service group homes will receive the same service items currently provided in these group homes.

How will finances be managed at Singletons Equity, Housing Choices Australia and private rentals?

The Board and Lodging Fee only applies to residents who pay rent to the department.

If residents pay rent to a different provider, such as a housing association there will be no change to how expenditure is managed in their homes.

Will residents still be able to share the cost of some items?

Yes. Where more than one resident agrees to share the cost of something, for example regular newspaper delivery or the care of a pet, this can be done through each residents financial plan.

What changes will there be to the process of allocating and maintaining Westpac Debit Mastercards?

There will be some changes to the process for allocating Debit Mastercards to staff and for maintaining this information. These changes are designed to resolve many of the issues that are raised regarding the current process which appears to vary significantly in its efficiency across the state.

Further development of the process associated with allocating and maintaining Debit Mastercards will be progressed by divisional working groups.

Posted by: HATTON AT 02:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, May 17 2013

The Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Victoria, is demanding a 50% increase in living expenses from its supported accommodation group home residents, to allow it to continue as a service provider under the NDIS, as well as help offset the state’s share of NDIS funding. This out-of-control government department is seeking to have its bread buttered both sides!

For years this department has made sure it had financial popularity to offset its very poor service record.  This was done by underfunding the non-government services, so they have to charge their residents more to compensate for the shortfall in support-service funding provided to them by the department. 

The department, consequently, being able to provide more support service funding to their own services, with their residents paying less than the residents of non-government services.

Whereas, now, the department’s priority is to stay a service provider under the NDIS.  This means it has to take a lower support service fee to compete with non-government services.  Having no scruples, the department is prepared to scalp its residents, in its desperate quest to stay as a service provider when all support service funding is from the NDIS.  Yet it can be virtually guaranteed, the service level and quality will not change for the better in consequence of the proposed 50% increase in what DHS residents are currently paying.

Therefore, if the DHS stays as a service provider under the current public service, charity hand-out regime, developed under the block-funding culture, residents will eventually pay their NDIS, ISP, for similar department charity hand-out services.

Whereas if we consider the marketplace scenario, where the families of six residents in a supported accommodation group home are financially able to pay both the service fee and the accommodation (B&L) fee, “Would they not expect a first class service in every way, and with wall to wall customer service?”  “Of course, they would!  Indeed, they would insist it was!” 

In total contrast, the captive market scenario is where the service fee is from government block funding or, in the case of the NDIS, from government in the form of an ISP,  The natural question is, therefore, “Why is the captive market service not similar to the marketplace service? 

In general, this is because service provider management and staff see residents and their families who take government funding, as bludging off the government.  And consider residents and their families should feel eternally grateful for whatever the staff do or don’t do, and should never, ever, complain.

We ask the question, “Why is the level and quality of service so dependent on the funding source?”  We suggest this is because service management and staff have a sense of safe employment in a captive market situation.  Whereas in a marketplace situation, service management and staff feel responsibility is a requirement to retain their employment.

There is significant concern the captive market situation will not be broken with NDIS, ISPs.  The captive market is far too entrenched to be enhanced by a mere change of funding source.  An over-supply of service providers would be needed to make serious inroads into the captive-market culture. 

Consequently, little more, than more of the same charity hand-out services, in contrast to entitlement services, will likely result from NDIS funded support services.                 


Posted by: HATTON AT 05:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, May 10 2013

Culture of fear throughout…

Throughout the range of support services for vulnerable people, disability and aged-care, there is a traditional culture of fear to speak out – fear to question – fear to even ask. 

Within the disability field, fear of intimidation and retribution is the number one reason sighted  by the ODSC as why families are reluctant to report questionable service occurrences which, directly or indirectly, adversely affect their family member with a disability.    

Overall, there is a traditional culture which considers people are good-kids if they can get something for nothing – wrought the system.  And, there is the public service culture which considers those who report questionable occurrences are undesirables, and are treated as such to ensure they don’t do it again.  The message being - no dobbing .

Translated into practical terms, public service management of direct care services for people with disabilities do not want the problem, the politics and the paperwork of having to deal with a situation where one staff member is reporting on another, or reporting client abuse and/or intimidation.  Or, the politics and paperwork where items on public service property, considered fair-go by the good-kids, go walkabout. 

Public service reactive management consider it is far easier to stop or persecute the person reporting.  This sends a clear message to that person, and those thinking of doing similar, not to report on others.  Thus relieving public service reactive management of man-management problems.  Turning a blind-eye to the questionable activities of the ‘fair-go, good-kids’, saves undesirable effort, politics and paperwork.

Fear extends to CSOs who take funding from government departments  These departments consider the supply of funding gives them the right to treat CSO in any way they like, even their peak body, NDS, is not immune from government department intimidation.

The amount of energy and resources used in bureaucratic manoeuvring is awesome in comparison with that used in providing meaningful support services to those for whom the whole service system is intended – vulnerable people.

Apart from the adverse effect on those for whom the support services are intended, one of the most disappointing factors of this political-warfare is the effect on those having just done various training courses, where they are taught the  important aspects of providing quality of life care.  Whereas, when they arrive at a care facility, all keen to implement what they have learnt, they are told by traditional minder-care staff, “We don’t do all that rubbish here, and you had better not either!”

There is a similar culture amongst police.  Cadets are taught at the police academy all the good things they should do when they graduate.  They arrive at their first station, after their training, all keen to get on the streets and apply what they have been taught, only to be confronted by the duty sergeant who tells them, “We have enough to do without you going out looking for problems – sit quietly behind that desk!”

During the four year period Heather worked, as an ACRACS in various aspects of the disability field, especially supported accommodation group homes and similar, she had to be actively discouraged from reporting the abuse and intimidation of clients, as she would have been seen by department management as a trouble maker, and we needed her behind the closed-doors of the facilities as long as possible.

It is standard practice in the public service, and in many captive market organisations, that those who report problems or, attempt to improve the service for those for whom it is intended, are treated as shocking trouble makers and persecuted for ever more.  Whereas, the perpetrators are, at worse, just moved to another facility to repeat their questionable activities.                 

Posted by: HATTON AT 09:43 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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