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Federal Court To Hear Class Action Suit Over Alleged Abuse At Psychiatric Boarding House

Grand Western Lodge: Google Maps

Law firm Maurice Blackburn has filed a class action lawsuit against the licensee and manager of rural boarding house Grand Western Lodge on behalf of its former residents.

The boarding house, located in Millthorpe, NSW, once housed some 48 people with psychiatric and intellectual disabilities.

It operated under a government-issued license from 2000, but the government took legal action to remove residents from the facility in 2011, after concerns were raised.

Maurice Blackburn will face Grand Western Lodge manager Adrian Powell, his company Avibin Pty Ltd, and the State of NSW in the Federal Court, on behalf of former resident Paul McAlister and 39 others.

The firm has alleged that Powell “participated in and encouraged a residents’ committee to physically assault residents, to confine residents as punishment and administer unprescribed quantities of psychotropic medication to sedate some residents”.

Fairfax Media reported in July 2011 that residents were dosed with a tranquilliser called Largactil.

The new lawsuit also alleges that the NSW Department of Ageing Disability and Home Care was negligent in monitoring its licensees, and failed to act despite public allegations of abuse in 2002.

Residents in the lawsuit have claimed compensation for injuries, false imprisonment and financial losses. Business Insider is seeking comment from Powell and the Grand Western Lodge about the allegations.

The NSW Government last year moved to strengthen its protection of boarding house residents with the Boarding Houses Act 2012.

Powell criticised several of the proposed regulations, arguing that the “whole process will be nothing but a disaster for a group of vulnerable people and the Treasury of the State of NSW”.

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