Disability Accommodation Reforms to Increase Choice and Control
8 February 2019 at 5:11 pm
Reforms to improve Specialist Disability Accommodation services have been welcomed by disability groups, who say it will allow people with disability more choice and control over their accommodation options.
Federal Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher announced on Friday, SDA would be included up front in National Disability Insurance Scheme plans, allowing participants, their carers and families, to go into the market and find a home to suit their individual needs.
Fletcher said he expected up to $700 million in SDA payments would be made each year after the full rollout to accommodate 28,000 participants requiring a specialist housing solution.
He said the reforms would also stimulate construction and supply of diverse housing options for NDIS participants.
“The government is introducing immediate changes to improve choice and control for eligible NDIS participants, build market confidence and drive stronger investment in Specialist Disability Accommodation,” Fletcher said.
Dean Price, People With Disability Australia (PWDA) policy officer, said people with disability had faced distressing congregate care situations because of previous SDA arrangements, so any changes which meant better choice and control over housing options were welcome.
“We know of a lot of people who were living independently, and were suddenly told they needed to move into a shared accommodation… which is in conflict with the choice and control principle under NDIS,” Price told Pro Bono News.
“Anything recognising that change can be made to provide greater choice and control is definitely welcome.”
A pre-budget submission by PWDA was handed to Treasury last week, calling for a $2.7 billion investment to fund more housing options for people with disability.
Price said while the reforms didn’t cover everything the submission was asking for, it was a step in the right direction.
“We did call for the federal government to take action on delivering greater choice and control and to not force people into conflict style accommodation arrangements. We welcome this as a step towards that,” he said.
The announced changes also include SDA prices not shifting unexpectedly, and properties under construction being pre-certified, which Fletcher said would give investors more certainty that property would meet design standards on completion.
CEO of Youngcare, Anthony Ryan said the changes meant confidence would be restored in the SDA market.
“We should now see a more optimistic environment which will allow for bespoke housing solutions for young people with high care needs,” Ryan said.
Luke Bo’sher, CEO of the Summer Foundation, said the changes would also mean less young people with disability would end up in aged care facilities.
“The 50 younger people each week who enter aged care will benefit from this fast-track process to get the NDIS funding they need to avoid an inappropriate admission to a nursing home,” Bo’sher said.
“These changes go a long way towards the vision of an NDIS that enables people with disability to live in high quality, accessible housing integrated in communities across Australia.”
Price said PWDA was yet to fully analyse the proposed reforms, however it seemed mostly positive. But one issue he raised was that the price increases were based on a Consumer Price Index.
“What we’ve been calling for is a relook at the way different accommodation options are priced to ensure that people with disability are given true choice and control,” he said.
“We need a broader approach to make sure that the entire system works for all.”
He encouraged the sector to keep an eye on the changes, and to keep making their voices heard if issues with SDA remained.
“We need government to continue to listen to people with disability about their experiences and what is being delivered,” he said.
“We would encourage everyone to make their voice heard because this is about delivering for people with disabilities.”