COVID-19 has impacted various industries in differing ways. For the 400,000 Australians signed up to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the pandemic has exposed potential weaknesses in the scheme’s ability to provide safe and accessible accommodation for those who need it most.
Thankfully, advocates and accessibility experts are making great progress to ensure the delivery of NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) continues. With tight restrictions starting to lift and the pace picking up anew, this funding scheme can now continue to provide better long-term and specialised housing options – ensuring those with a disability have access to a secure and safe dwelling to independently live in and call their own.
Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) updates
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the design and delivery of NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) was already ramping up. Developers, housing providers, support agencies and other organisations that advocate for people with disabilities were working together to cater to demand; of the 28,000+ NDIS participants that are eligible for SDA, 15,000 already had requested it.
When the pandemic hit, SDA operations and construction suffered. Requests for ‘appropriate accommodation’ overwhelmed a short supply. SDA housing has to be specifically designed to suit the needs of people with disabilities. A typical approach spans four design types, each delivering a level of customisation depending on an individual’s needs (e.g. Improved Liveability, Robust, Fully Accessible, High Physical Support). A combined skill set of many accessibility and housing experts is a must to fulfill all these considerations.
Luckily, the October 2020 Federal Budget announced an increase of $4 billion to the NDIS. These funds are desperately needed to maintain the rigour of oversight via the NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency), as well as the level of care that NDIS participants deserve.
Positive changes to SDA for 2021
SDA is one of the fastest growing provider registration groups of the NDIS, with reportedly over 1,700 dwellings in development nation-wide. Alongside a cash injection promised at the 2020 Federal Budget, a close eye on the sector and its progress will influence how quickly Australia can meet NDIS participants’ needs. A roof over our heads is a basic human right; more funding to understand demand and delivery of indispensable specialist dwellings can only be a good thing.
Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert, recently announced that additional data will be made available regarding demand for SDA dwellings. As Roberts explains, ‘…it’s important we continue to see further growth in the number of providers offering these living options. By publishing this additional data, it will help providers understand where there is greatest demand for these types of dwellings which in turn should stimulate investment in those areas.’
Such transparency should lead to better housing outcomes for the tens of thousands of NDIS participants seeking a safe home to suit their requirements.
Better NDIS accommodation on the horizon
It’s predicted that the specialist disability accommodation market will be worth up to $12 billion by 2025. While complexity and the pandemic have affected recent accommodation growth, better SDA dwellings should be a priority for all governments and disability agencies.
At MGAC, we have an intimate understanding of housing under the NDIS. We’ve been there since the beginning, guiding the evolution of compliance requirements in every state and territory. One collaboration the MGAC team has had remarkable success with is our partnership with NDIS-registered SDA provider AccessAccom, based in Sydney. Our team can advise, assess and certify any dwelling old or new, ensuring its safety as a home suited to any occupant’s needs.
If you’re a developer, builder, architect or consultant involved in an SDA project, we’d love to work with you. Our team collaborates with partners Australia-wide – please visit our contact page to fill out an online enquiry form or find your local representative’s details.