Aged care provider Australian Unity is investing in specialist disability accommodation (SDA) as it makes its first foray into the sector.

The organisation has acquired 33 apartments and five carer apartments in Melbourne’s eastern and northern suburbs and aims to expand nationally, with a pipeline of assets under development.

The Melbourne based mutual company, whose business operations include financial and healthcare services, announced in April that it had raised $39 million for a disability housing fund.

Australian Unity intends to commit at least $60 million in the SDA sector this year and is looking to double the size of its disability housing portfolio over the next twelve months.

A ‘natural progression’

Social infrastructure general manager Ryan Banting said the launch of the disability housing fund was a “natural progression” for Australian Unity, given its experience and existing relationships in the sector.

Ryan Banting

“Having completed considerable diligence on the sector, the timing is right for us to launch our SDA Fund. Investor interest is strong, the market is ready, and the public policy settings are in place to enable and sustain the sector”, he said.

Mr Banting said the NDIS has put in place the funding and policy settings to ensure the growth and sustainability of the SDA sector.

By the time it’s fully implemented, the NDIS is expected to assist 28,000 Australians with disability through SDA, with annual SDA payments xpected to be around $700 million a year, according to the government.

Increased interest from providers in entering the SDA market also comes after the government last year unveiled a national action plan to reduce the number of younger people livin in aged care facilities.

Executive General Manager of Property Mark Pratt said Australian Unity was comminted to expanding investment in social infrastructure which already includes medical centres, residential and retirement facilities and the Herston Quarter medical precinct in Brisbane.

“We are working with a wide range of stakeholders within the housing, disability and social sectors to provide suitable and contemporary housing for people with a range of abilities, and look forward to expanding our presence in this sector over time.

Law firm Hall & Willcox is advising Australian Unity in the venture and its first round of capital raising, as well as other aspects of its move into the specialist disability accommodation sector.

“The specialist disability accommodation sector is growing steadily, thanks to strong investor interest. Government support for NDIS SDA is expected to sustain the sector into the future,” it said in a statement.

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