I hated it (the hostel). The toilets and showers are no good. It gets all blocked up. The house isn’t straight. The stumps are loose and they got disturbed in the big rain. The hostel was no good. He (the manager) would tell me to do things. I was washing up and cleaning. He wanted me to run his computer.... He said I couldn’t stay if I didn’t. So I made trouble for him. (O’Connor & Fowkes, 2000)

The impact of a person’s living situation on their overall well-being is as significant for people who have an intellectual disability as it is for any other member of the community. In fact, the security and appropriateness of a person’s accommodation can impact more significantly on a person who has an intellectual disability, who may find it harder to negotiate housing challenges (such as difficult neighbours or inaccessibility to transport). Issues related to housing may be due to challenges that are related specifically to the person’s disability, or to multiple social disadvantages that people with intellectual disability often experience, such as poverty, discrimination and social isolation.   

People who have an intellectual disability might live independently in the community (alone or in shared housing), in a ‘group home’ or supported accommodation, or with friends or family members. It is interesting to note that only about 15 percent of people with moderate to high-level intellectual disability receive services in Queensland (Irons, 2011), which suggests that the vast majority of people with intellectual disability live independently in the community without the support of service agencies – either alone or with family or friends.

The complexity of a person’s vulnerability is often closely related to their housing situation and level of independence in daily living. For example, people living in group home situations may have less choice and independence, and therefore may be vulnerable to abuse, neglect or exploitation by staff or other decision makers. However, people with ‘mild’ levels of disability who live independently and without agency support may have more choice and independence in day-to-day living, but may have limited capacity to make good choices to keep themselves safe and protected from exploitation or abuse by others (K. Ellem, personal communication, 28 April 2011).

Homelessness is a significant but under-recognised risk factor for people with intellectual disability. One recent study in the United Kingdom found that homeless people are significantly more likely to have an intellectual disability than the general population (Oakes & Davies, 2008). This is presumably due to the other inter-related risk factors that are common for this group, such as:

  • Over representation in the criminal justice system 
  • High rates of alcohol and other drug use 
  • Poverty 
  • Poor physical and mental health 
  • Difficulty managing verbal communication 
  • Lack of appropriate education and employment opportunities 
  • Vulnerability to financial exploitation 
  • Social isolation.  

It is extremely important to be aware of the client’s living situation when working with clients with intellectual disability.

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Multicultural Development Australia (MDA) and the Inclusion Ready Project invite key stakeholders to a workshop about the Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grants. This workshop is specifically designed for CALD services, mainstream organisations and members of the CALD community...
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Queensland Government media release The Palaszczuk Government is offering a share of $150,000 to the organisers of events and activities across the state that recognise the achievements and contributions of people with disability. Minister for Disability Services Coralee O'Rourke announced that...
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The Minister for Disability Services Coralee O'Rourke recently launched Queenslanders with Disability Network's (QDN) new initiative QDeNgage , which is providing consultancy, engagement, training and speakers for Queensland businesses and organisations. QDN recognises that by involving people with...
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The NDIS is now available across Queensland. As a result, from 1 July 2019 the Queensland Community Care Program (QCC) will be replaced by the Queensland Community Support Scheme (QCSS). In preparation, many service providers have been assisting their eligible clients transitioning to the NDIS...
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Queensland Government media release Businesses, organisations and individuals will be able to better engage with Queenslanders with disability thanks to a new initiative of the Queenslanders with Disability Network. QDeNgage will provide consultancy, engagement, training and speakers for Queensland...
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The National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 is about creating a more inclusive society that enables Australians with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens. When the strategy ends in 2020, governments across Australia will be working together to develop a new approach for the future...

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Are you looking for support in Queensland, or trying to find a service that meets your needs? Now you can search oneplace , the service directory hosted by the Queensland Family and Child Commission. oneplace is an easily accessible directory of community services to help Queensland families to get...
Peak organisation for community services organisations supporting people with a disability. www.nds.org.au
Queensland Government web portal with resources to support people with a disablity. www.qld.gov.au/disability
Queensland government departmental website www.communities.qld.gov.au/disability
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIFW) published Australia's Welfare in October 2017. The report provides an authoritative overview of the wellbeing of Australians, examining a wide range of relevant topics. Read the report here.
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Author: 
Louise Mullins, Queensland Council of Social Service

Did you know as many as one in five Queenslanders has a disability? Every day, some face barriers to participating in their own community.

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As the Queensland Public Guardian I am pleased to announce the inaugural opening of the Queensland Public Guardian’s Excellence Awards.

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