Disability group home to go ahead

Michael Flavell and Casey Hailes outside the home. Picture Chris Lane
Michael Flavell and Casey Hailes outside the home. Picture Chris Lane

A group home for men with disabilities has been given the stamp of approval by Camden Council.

Afford disability services applied to convert an existing residence in Narellan to a home allowing up to five men with disabilities aged 18-30 to live independently with the assistance of 24-hour nursing care.

The matter first came before the council in mid-July, but a decision was deferred to allow for a meeting between Afford staff and concerned residents.

All parties have since reported the meeting was highly successful.

Neighbouring resident Nick Harvey was originally worried that the development application would pave the way for future, less family-friendly, groups to utilise the house.

“We were concerned that if Afford were to sell the property there would be nothing to prevent something like a drug or alcohol rehabilitation home or a halfway house for people out of prison being formed,” he said.

“But Afford were very understanding of our concerns and were happy to listen and make changes to their DA so this wouldn’t be the case.”

Mr Harvey said he had never had an issue with Afford’s intended use for the home and had no concerns welcoming people with disabilities to the community.

He was thankful Afford representatives took the time to meet with him and answer his questions.

The father of young children criticised Camden Council’s lack of appropriate communication with nearby residents and said if the staff had addressed his questions a great deal of frustration and social media backlash could have been avoided.

Councillor Paul Farrow, who moved for the decision to be deferred at the meeting in July, was pleased an amicable solution had been reached between all parties.

“The meeting between Afford and the residents proved to be very valuable,” he said.

“There is definitely a need for these types of homes in Camden.

“These people are valuable members of the community and they need somewhere to live.”

Cr Farrow said the council and Afford had made alterations to the development application which would ensure that if the property was ever sold, its approval for use as a group home would cease.

“This way we can ensure it is only used for its intended use,” he said.

Afford chief executive Steve Herald said the organisation was happy to make the adjustments to their application.

“As a sign of good faith, the DA will be surrendered in the unlikely event that Afford were to sell the property,” he said.

He said he was eager to see the residents move into their new home.

“The housemates cannot wait to move into their new home and explore everything that our community has to offer,” he said.

“We are ecstatic for our housemates and their families, who will truly be offered a new lease on life thanks to the support and inclusion of the south-west Sydney community.

“Afford has been met by the heart-warming support of the community and we are excited about what this means for the housemates.”