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SDA Market Information Statement

Brent highlights what's covered, what's missing and what's important.

By Brent Woolgar

Updated 15 Apr 202425 Aug 2021

Last week, the NDIA finally released the much-anticipated SDA Market Information Statement. It is a response to increasing confusion and inconsistencies surrounding the SDA market over the past 10 months and the need for some clear market stewardship from the NDIA.

It may be a coincidence that at the exact time I first read the statement, I was helping my daughter eat some vanilla yoghurt. The statement can best be summarised by that flavour—vanilla.

Let us take a look at the key points of the statement. 

 

Introduction

The statement provides a concise summary of some of the key SDA activities of the NDIA over the past few years. There is nothing new here. But the list of initiatives that have been undertaken to support growth, innovation and sustainability is missing some notable items, such as changes to the SDA Rule in 2020.  

However, the last sentence does provide something new—the announcement of a Quarterly SDA Report commencing in the first quarter of 2021–2022 (i.e. this quarter). Assuming that this dedicated report will contain datasets based on similar geographic regions, this could be very exciting. We will eagerly await the first report.

 

Supply of single-participant apartments

Perhaps the most (only) useful information in the statement is the clear(ish) guidance on the supply of single-participant apartments, especially within the High Physical Support design category. The NDIS is concerned that there are simply too many of these apartments in the pipelines and on the drawing boards of investors around the country. This aligns with the puzzling lack of eligibility approvals over the past 10 months for people to live alone in one-bedroom High Physical Support apartments. Perhaps it would have been better to release the statement 10 months ago, transparently throwing choice and control under the bus via the eligibility process. This might have saved hundreds of people significant stress. 

Interestingly, halfway through this section, the language changes from ‘apartments’ to ‘High Physical Support single resident dwellings’. I am unsure if this is just poor copy or if this is, in fact, the message—limit the supply of all High Physical Support dwellings for single-resident apartments or townhouses/villas.

There is also no mention of the property market forces (i.e. NDIS prices) that are significantly limiting the appeal of investing in SDA within larger locations or coastal towns, with the exception of High Physical Support apartments. I wonder if looking into this aspect of the market may also provide some useful information for the NDIA to ponder when scratching their heads looking at all the apartments in the supply pipeline.

The final point of interest in this section is the following paragraph: 

There will continue to be a need for innovative single-resident dwellings, however the rate at which High Physical Support single-resident dwellings are being enrolled compared to other dwelling types does not align to the likely approved demand profile anticipated by the NDIA. 

Back up the bus. There is an approved demand profile anticipated by the NDIA? This would be useful information to share with the market.

 

SDA demand and participant eligibility

Interestingly, in this section, there is a mixed bag of messages. Firstly, there is a reiteration of the NDIS SDA data, as well as a bit of a slap on the wrist for SDA providers not to get people’s hopes up about eligibility until the NDIS decides their fate. 

It also presents some data from the Interim Update to the Annual Financial Sustainability Report Summary released on 3 July 2021. Interestingly, it states that over the next four years, the number of people receiving SIL support will increase from 26,000 to nearly 35,000. They obviously have not read the Home and Living consultation paper, which boldly states that the number of people leaving SIL will be greater than those entering within 3 years.  

However, it does not repeat the messaging we have been hearing from the NDIS for the past 10 months that the cost of supporting people to live alone is simply too expensive (apparently). Also unmentioned is Robust SDA which is teetering on the brink of market failure, and yet it is conspicuously absent from the statement.

The final section invites other people conducting research and analysis of the SDA market to collaborate with the NDIS via a generic email address: [email protected]. Good Luck!

This information statement is much better than the ill-fated SDA Provider and Investor Brief of 2018. However, perhaps it is a bit too much of a swing from downright damaging to not really telling us anything new at all.

The statement can be downloaded here: https://www.ndis.gov.au/providers/housing-and-living-supports-and-services/specialist-disability-accommodation.

Authors

Brent Woolgar

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