Margaret Sammut turns 62 next month and will celebrate her birthday with her family for the first time in decades.
Ms Sammut, who was left with a disability after being hit by a car as a child, has spent the past 39 years in a large institution, one of handful still remaining in NSW that will close as the National Disability Insurance Scheme rolls out over the next two years.
After leaving the Rydalmere Centre last year, Ms Sammut moved into a group home in Auburn that she shares with two other people, aided by disability support workers. “Oh, it’s good,” she said, surrounded by her collection of books, DVDs and stuffed toys. “Rydalmere was OK but this is better.”
Concerns about large institutions were raised more than 20 years ago, with legislation passed in 1993 to close the state’s big centres and move 3000 people with disabilities into the community.
“These conditions are straight out of the last century,” Community Services Commissioner Roger West told the Sydney Morning Herald in 1995. “It’s hard to imagine anyone with a reasonable choice wanting to live in these institutions.”
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald