The family of a young disabled man abused by a carer has never received an apology or compensation from the service provider, a royal commission has been told.
Jason, 24, who has autism and a significant intellectual disability, was one of a number of men abused by a lifestyle support worker at a day program in western Sydney run by the Australian Foundation for Disability, also known as Afford.
The inquiry into the neglect and abuse of people with a disability on Monday began a five-day examination of the services provided by Afford, particularly the day program at its Mt Druitt location.
Jason's mother Sally told the commission she was in shock when she learned of the abuse, but Afford seemed more intent on washing its hands of the carer involved.
She said Afford never offered a formal apology, never offered to pay compensation and did not refund any fees charged for the months the abuse occurred.
The family only became aware of the abuse when contacted by police, with the chief executive of Afford phoning Sally the following day.
She said he repeatedly told her they had stayed back late to ensure the man had been properly employed.
"That really stuck in my mind because I'm thinking at this stage, I've just found out that my child has been abused at the hands of one of your workers and it's more important for you to tell me that you've employed him properly," Sally said.
"I was in shock."
The carer involved was jailed for more than three years after pleading guilty to a number of offences.
His conduct included recording and sharing intimate images and videos of the young men as well as hitting and taunting them.
In Jason's case, the abuse continued for several months across 2019 and 2020, with some of the filming occurring in the family home.
The mother of another Afford client told the commission her family had also never been offered compensation or a refund for services despite the abuse of her son.
While a third said she was never contacted directly by the organisation about the carer's arrest but learned about it through a Facebook post.
"It was a bit devastating. It's always in the back of your mind, did anything happen to my child," Lilly said.
She also criticised Afford's service provided to her son Simon, describing it as glorified babysitting.
She said she had noticed him watching programs such as The Wiggles or Thomas the Tank Engine during music therapy sessions instead of more appropriate material for young adults.
As well as the evidence of abuse, all three mothers detailed problems they had with the quality of care provided by Afford and its accounts.
Susie, the mother of Toby, who was also abused, said at one stage they were billed for services supposedly provided when he was out of the country on holiday with his family.
They all said their sons were doing much better after switching to alternative service providers.
Later this week the commission is expected to hear from former Afford staff who raised concerns over the safety and quality of its services including one who took her concerns to the board but subsequently resigned after going on stress leave.
According to Afford's annual reports, in 2020/2021 it supported more than 6000 clients with disability and had an annual revenue of $145.6 million after growing rapidly from 898 clients in 2016/17.
The not-for-profit organisation operates predominantly in NSW but recently expanded to provide services in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
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Australian Associated Press
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