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What's happening in Specialist Disability Accommodation in 2020?

We know we say this every year but 2020 is really shaping up to be a very busy year for the SDA market. Brent has analysed the data to give you a comprehensive update on where things stand, and what we can expect.

By Brent Woolgar

Updated 15 Apr 202410 Feb 2020

We know we say this every year but 2020 is really shaping up to be a very busy year for the SDA market. This is welcome news for those who are looking for SDA housing but have yet to receive an outcome. As we know, the delivery of new SDA dwellings has remained subdued to date. Luckily, 2019 has paved the way with a number of key SDA publications from the NDIS being released (see below) that will certainly boost activity for the market. In this article we will look at some of the key lessons from these documents along with some compelling SDA data analysis that gives some insight for 2020.

Key SDA publications

But that’s not all. A number of additional announcements were also made that will have an indirect impact on the SDA market. These include the introduction of Medium Term Accommodation and the trial of Individual Living Options (ILO) as an alternative to Supported Independent Living (SIL).

New SDA dwelling progress

The Quarterly COAG reports provide some really useful information on the SDA market if you are prepared to do a little analysis. Fortunately, we have done that for you. Let’s start with some key observations from the data.  

Firstly we have data from new SDA dwelling enrolments across Eastern seaboard states of Australia, organised by Quarter.

If this data is then plotted on a graph it highlights some interesting observations. What stands out in particular is that enrolment growth in both NSW and QLD appears to be slowing whilst the growth in VIC is fairly constant (albeit way behind the number of dwellings anticipated by this stage of the rollout).

New SDA Enrolments by Quarter

Image description: Graph showing the growth of SDA enrolments by Quarter in Vic, Qld and NSW. NSW has by far the most enrolments. And there is a dramatic jump in Q2 18/19 and then again in Q2 19/20. Qld has the second most enrolments until Q2 19/20 when it is overtaken by Victoria. Vic’s enrolments increase at a steady rate.

This may be a result of the SDA Provider and Investor Brief released back in April 2018 which resulted in stifled SDA investment for much of 2018. It will be very interesting to see how the enrolment of new SDA dwellings progresses during 2020. We expect to see it accelerate.

People with SDA funding

We can gain further insight by looking at the numbers of people receiving SDA payments as part of their NDIS plan across the same time span:

Similar to the new SDA dwelling enrolments, if this data is plotted in a graph it shows a picture that is interesting, and perhaps a little concerning.

SDA Funding Approval by Quarter

Image description: Graph showing the number of people with SDA funding by Quarter in NSW, Qld and Vic. NSW has the most people, starting at just under 5,000. But there is decline in Q2 18/19 before rising again in Q3 18/19 and then continuing to rise steadily. Queensland has the next most enrolments. By Q2 19/20 they have almost caught up to NSW. Victoria is trailing much below both other states, and the growth rate is slow.

Medium term accommodation

The Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert, announced a new funding category called Medium Term Accommodation (MTA) early December 2019. Here is what we know about MTA so far:

  • MTA is targeted to NDIS participants who require temporary transitional housing while they wait for their permanent home to become ready or available for use.
  • Typically, MTA would be used for periods up to 90 days.
  • The MTA price limit covers only the accommodation component, with the support component to be claimed through the appropriate support line items such as ‘assistance with self-care’ at the relevant time of day and day of week.
  • Participants who stay in MTA facilities will be responsible for meeting their own food and everyday living costs out of pocket.
  • The daily MTA rates are as follows:
    • National Non-remote:          $126.29
    • National Remote:                 $176.81
    • National Very Remote:        $189.44
  • At this stage there does not appear to be any specific requirements for property registration for MTA dwellings or details around Quality and Safeguards compliance.

Here are some typical examples of where MTA might be used:

  • Bridging accommodation for younger participants who are at risk of being admitted to aged care or those who wish to leave aged care, while they wait for home modifications or identified SDA.
  • Participants who are ready to leave hospital but are waiting for disability-related home modifications to be completed on their house
  • Participants who are eligible for SDA but are awaiting on a vacancy or build to be completed. 

Certification and pre-certification of new SDA dwellings

The SDA Design Standards Implementation Plan outlines the pre-certification processes to register SDA at the early stages to provide the market with visibility of future SDA dwellings. 

From April 2020 until July 2021 (subject to SDA Rule changes), enrolment can be completed by using the current form or upon receipt of a report from an accredited SDA assessor. From July 2021, the mandated process will be undertaken through a report from an accredited assessor only. Class 2 dwellings can be enrolled under the existing process until 1st July 2023 where the NDIA has granted an exemption in line with the definition below.

Interestingly, just this week some further clarity was received about the pre-requisite requirements to become an assessor for the new SDA Design Standard. The professional requirements are:

  • Architect (with subsequent diploma’s)
  • Building Surveyor / Certifier
  • Access Consultant
  • Occupational Therapist

You may recall that previously to be an LHA assessor you could also be a registered builder. Unfortunately, this has now been removed so if you are a builder and an LHA assessor you cannot become an SDA Design Standard assessor.

The input that Occupational Therapists can provide for the specification of a person's built environment and assistive technology is undoubtedly important. However, I do have some reservations as to whether they can also undertake the highly technical role of assessing an entire dwelling(s) for compliance against the SDA Design Standards. It will be interesting to see how this progresses.

SDA Rule 2020

We are eagerly awaiting the release of the further updated and amended SDA Rule that is due to be released any day now. As soon as it is public we will provide a further update of any important changes. Stay tuned.

DSC SDA Workshops 2020

The initial scoping and planning is underway for DSC’s SDA 2020 series of workshops. These are likely to occur during the second quarter of 2020. Please keep an eye out for more information in the coming weeks.

Image: John BatesNot titled, 2014, acrylic on paper 38 x 56 cm, courtesy of the artist and Arts Project Australia


Brent Woolgar

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