New disability accommodation guidelines set to come into force

New standards for special disability accommodation will become mandatory by 2021.

Providers who are considering building specialist disability accommodation (SDA) must consult new design standards which will become mandatory in 2021, the government says.

Stuart Robert

Almost 1,000 providers are currently funded by the NDIS to provide SDA for participants with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs.

The NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation Design Standard launched by NDIS minister Stuart Robert in October sets out detailed design requirements that will be incorporated into newly built SDA from 2021.

The standard sets out four categories of SDA design, including “improved liveability”, “robust”, “fully accessible” and “high physical support”.

From July 2021, all SDA applications will need to nominate a design category and be approved by a third party accredited assessor to be eligible to enrol in the NDIS.

The government has allowed for a transition period in the lead-up to that date during which there will be some exemptions, which will expire by July 2023

“If you are about to commence building new SDA dwellings, the SDA Design Standard should be considered to guide the design and future enrolment of SDA enrolled dwellings,” the NDIS says.

Boosting confidence and ensuring compliance

The government says the new standard will boost provider confidence and help ensure compliance.

It comes as growing numbers of providers enter the SDA market, with the most recent NDIS quarterly report showing there are currently 977 SDA providers in Australia and a 9.5 per cent growth in SDA dwellings in the June Quarter.

The NDIS will eventually assist 28,000 Australians with disability through SDA once it is fully rolled out, representing 6.1 per cent of all NDIS participants, the government says.

Mr Robert said the guidelines represented an important milestone in the maturity of the SDA market.

He said they would guide architects, builders and providers and would spur a new era of housing construction for people with disability, as well as boosting developer and investor confidence.

‘Specialist Disability Accommodation is a life-changing support that gives participants greater independence and control and we have heard loud and clear from Australians with disability that this is an area that needs to be improved. That is why the SDA Design Standard is such an important development,’ he said.

The peak body for Australian disability services, National Disability Services (NDS), welcomed the new design standard.

“It will provide quality guidance to architects and builders in the construction of specialist housing for people with disability, and importantly, reassurance to prospective residents that accommodation will meet their needs,” acting CEO David Moody told Community Care Review.

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