Disability services alliance Ability First Australia has been funded $10.1 million to deliver a network of support officers to help young people in residential care find age-appropriate accommodation following a competitive grant opportunity.

Ability First Australia CEO Andrew Rowley

It comes after the government committed to funding a national network of up to 40 system coordinators to help get young people out of the aged care system by 2025 in response the recommendations of the aged care royal commission.

Ability First Australia is one of Australia’s largest not for profit strategic alliances with 13 disability service member organisations working across all states and territories and expertise in supporting and advocating for people with disability.

CEO Andrew Rowley says Ability First Australia is excited to be involved in the initiative.

“We’re really excited about this project and being able to make a significant difference to what is not an ideal situation for many people,” he told Community Care Review.

He says the system coordinator program will be launched over the next few months, with delivery by December 2022.

“We’re going to be establishing a number of regional officers around the country as well as people involved in support co-ordination who have intricate knowledge of the NDIS and they’ll be dealing with families, carers and the individuals themselves, and working on where they want to live.”

Mr Rowley says one of the biggest challenges will be ensuring appropriate housing as an alternative to residential care, whether it’s individual housing or group settings.

“Appropriate housing and making sure it’s right is obviously going to be critical,” he said.

NDIS minister Linda Reynolds says Ability First will also play a key role in helping younger people and their families access disability services, health services and social support.

“This will ensure younger people who want to live on their own terms and with independence in the community will have the support they need to live their best life,” she said.

The federal government has pledged that no people under the age of 65 will be living in residential aged care by the end of 2025.

“We remain deeply determined to ensure younger people in need of care can find the support outside of the aged care environment,” aged care services minister Richard Colbeck said.

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