The Dreamhouse; will it make a difference in real life?

Media Release August 8, 2014

The Dreamhouse; will it make a difference in real life?

Down Syndrome Australia (DSA) welcomes the focus on the daily lives of people with Down syndrome and the opportunity to discuss the issue of the significant unmet need for housing and support in the community for people with intellectual disability that ‘The Dreamhouse’, produced by Artemis International and broadcast nationally on ABC TV, provides.

DSA acknowledges the good intentions of the The Dreamhouse, but feels that, in presenting the ‘dream’ setting as the young people living in a ‘group home’, a valuable opportunity to promote other more contemporary and self-directed living options for people with intellectual disability has been missed.

“Down Syndrome Australia supports a contemporary self-directed approach to community living for people with Down syndrome. This means that everyone with Down syndrome should be able to individually choose where they live and with whom they live according to his or her own life preferences,” said Down Syndrome Australia CEO Catherine McAlpine.

“However, the reality is that many people with Down syndrome continue to live at home both because of the lack of resources and lack of opportunity to pursue an alternative living arrangement.”

McAlpine also says that while DSA acknowledges the importance of positive representations of people with Down syndrome in television and other media, it is concerned that The Dreamhouse may reinforce lingering stereotypes, beliefs and attitudes that act to segregate people with intellectual disability from the rest of the community.

“The Dreamhouse tries to blur the lines between reality TV and documentary, as well as purporting to promote independence while not providing genuine choice and control to the participants.”

Down Syndrome Australia hopes that the program will shine a spotlight on the issues that lead to the circumstance where people feel compelled to live in group housing, for example inadequate support and funding, which in turn reduces choice. Too many individuals and families are exhausted and/or not supported, informed and empowered, making the options available very limited.

DSA wishes the young people with intellectual disability showcased in the program every success in working towards their own independence and sincerely hopes that The Dreamhouse impacts in a positive way on the lack of housing options available to people with Down syndrome. DSA also hopes that this television program broadens public perceptions of the potential of young adults with Down syndrome. DSA was not consulted in the development of The Dreamhouse.

Current, up-to-date and evidence based information on people with Down syndrome, and examples of lived experiences can be found on our information page



Catherine McAlpine

CEO, Down Syndrome Australia

0419 530 524


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