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Spotlight on Special Disability Accommodation

The spotlight is on Special Disability Accommodation (SDA) after the release of the interim report in the Aged Care Royal Commission, which called for immediate action to move young people out of aged care.

There are 6000 younger people with disability in aged care across Australia, and many more on waiting lists for SDA.  However, there is a shortage of suitable alternative accommodation and concerted action is needed to boost supplies of SDA.

The Royal Commission heard there is a substantial shortfall in Specialist Disability Accommodation.  In 2011 the Productivity Commission estimated that there was only existing SDA for 15,700 people but that, by the time of full implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, around 28,000 (6%) scheme participants would require SDA. Even taking into account Specialist Disability Accommodation under development at the time it was estimated that there was shortfall of over 9000 places.

That was 10 years ago. Since then the shortfall in SDA has steadily grown as demand outstrips supply.

Not surprisingly there is plenty of interest in investing in SDA, and some new homes have commenced in WA like the excellent Rocky Bay project in Girrawheen, designed by KPA Architects.  However, the Royal Commission heard that a larger market response has been held back by a lack of modelling for investors to show new buildings will be occupied.  This has been made worse by delays in the full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

State and local governments have an important role in facilitating the urgent need for new supplies of SDA. Social and Community housing providers can assist with bridging the gap by registering existing homes to suit people with disabilities and local governments can clear the complex planning pathways to developing new SDA.  

The Royal Commission noted that critical parts of the solution will take time, including full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the large-scale building program to meet the shortfall in Specialist Disability Accommodation. However, there is much that can be done in the meantime, including accurate supply and demand projections to stimulate more private investment in SDA.

Image: KPA Architects, Rocky Bay SDA Housing