Media Release Archives - Summer Foundation
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UpSkill Directory Launch: Connecting and supporting people with disability

Not-for-profit organisation, the Summer Foundation, has today launched the UpSkill Provider Directory, a searchable online directory of support coordinators and allied health professionals with the skills and experience to assist  people with complex support  needs to live well in the community.

The platform, made possible by funding partner Gandel Philanthropy, also provides eligible professionals with a way of showcasing their services to potential clients free of charge.

People with disability, families and others who assist them will be able to search the directory for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) support coordinators and allied health professionals in their area. 

Summer Foundation Head of Government Relations and Policy, Amelia Condi, said the UpSkill Provider Directory will enable NDIS participants with complex support needs to connect with a network of experienced support coordinators with the right skills to support participants to navigate the NDIS service system.

“Our focus for the UpSkill Provider Directory over the coming months is to build listings – it will continue to grow and evolve as more support coordinators and health professionals come on board,” Ms Condi said.  

The directory is the newest tool in the Summer Foundation’s UpSkill program, which delivers training,  capacity building and professional development to support coordinators and NDIS allied health professionals across the country. These professionals are integral in supporting people with complex support needs to achieve good outcomes and live well in the community.

Support coordinators and NDIS allied health professionals who have completed UpSkill training are eligible to create a profile on the directory. They are also eligible to join the UpSkill Community of Practice, a networking platform for members to troubleshoot barriers and inspire each other to think innovatively and share information, ideas and practices.

Gandel Philanthropy Chief Executive Officer, Vedran Drakulic OAM said: “From alternative housing demonstration projects to building workforce capability through UpSkill, the Summer Foundation has been at the forefront of innovative strategies to prevent younger people with disability from languishing in aged care.

“The UpSkill Provider Directory will offer vital online connections and supports so that every young person with disability can choose where they live and who they live with.”

To learn more about UpSkill and to access the UpSkill Provider Directory, refer to the Summer Foundation’s UpSkill program web page.

Media enquiries:
Susan Northway
Summer Foundation Communications Manager
M: 0438 734 419 

The Summer Foundation welcomes the announcements made by Minister Reynolds on Friday 9 July 2021 advising the outcomes of the Disability Ministers’ Meeting.

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National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) CEO Martin Hoffman has opened up about where the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is heading in an exclusive interview with Summer Foundation Policy Manager and disability advocate, Dr George Taleporos.

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Summer Foundation is pleased with the recent announcement from the Minister for NDIS, Senator the Hon Minister Reynolds CSC and National Cabinet to expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination to all NDIS participants and carers. 

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The key recommendations relating to younger people with disability, outlined in the newly released final report of the Aged Care Royal Commission, have been warmly welcomed by the Summer Foundation, Youngcare and Synapse. 

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Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) is well placed to meet a rising demand for impact investment products in Australia, according to the Summer Foundation’s newly released SDA Explainer for Investors.

In recent years, impact investing – investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and/or environmental impact alongside a financial return – has started to attract the attention of investment banks, super funds and private sector investors.

Summer Foundation CEO, Dr Di Winkler, said there has been a significant progression from impact investment being primarily for philanthropists with an interest in a particular area or sector, to it being seen as a viable option for mainstream investment banks, super funds and private sector investors.

“One of the limiting factors for the growth of impact investment in Australia is the lack of products that have the capacity for investment at scale – the SDA market is well positioned to leverage this private capital,” Dr Winkler said.

“SDA is still somewhat of an unknown quantity for some investors.”

“The SDA Explainer provides a succinct analysis of the SDA demand and supply outlook and investment principles to support investors considering SDA investment opportunities.

“These principles relate to the properties, the quality of the new dwellings, the tenant selection process, disability support and ensuring that the investment is set up for a long term positive social impact.”

What impact investors need to know about SDA

  • Since the commencement of the SDA market in 2017, there has been a steady increase in the growth of SDA supply. The most significant growth has been in the number of dwellings for people with high physical support needs with a four-fold increase. However, there is still a need for new dwellings for at least 19,000 people given the unmet demand and the need to redevelop or reconfigure most of the SDA built before 2016.
  • A recent desktop scan of investment opportunities found 32 entities raising funds to build new SDA. Some of the advertised returns were unrealistic. Only a small group of funds were investing in SDA at scale. The findings of this study demonstrate the level of interest and momentum generated by the SDA market.
  • A recent survey of active SDA investors provided valuable insights into the SDA market. Although there were only 9 participants, together they had provided $700 million to 13 SDA providers to house over 1,200 NDIS participants. This survey found that at this stage, the SDA market is suited to sophisticated investors with a substantial portfolio looking to diversify and interested in a long- term investment with stable returns and a social impact.
  • As with any developing market and new asset class, potential investors need to do a significant amount of research to understand the risks and returns associated with each specific investment opportunity and the risks associated with the market as a whole.

Dr Winkler said that SDA, as an emerging market, has enormous potential to provide both long-term stable returns to investors, while also meeting the housing needs of people with disability.

The Summer Foundation SDA Explainer for Investors has been published on the Summer Foundation website.

For further information, please contact:

Susan Northway, Communications Team Manager on 0438 734 419 or email

The Summer Foundation is pleased to welcome 2 new Board members, as part of an active Board renewal process designed to strengthen the diversity, strategic capacity and breadth of expertise on the Summer Foundation Board of Directors.

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Recommendations presented today by the Aged Care Royal Commission’s Senior Counsel Assisting, Peter Rozen QC, relating to younger people in aged care, have been warmly welcomed by Youngcare, the Summer Foundation and Young People In Nursing Homes National Alliance. 

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The Summer Foundation has welcomed the Federal Government’s new funding and strategy to reduce the number of younger people living in aged care.

The release of the Young People in Residential Aged Care (YPIRAC) Strategy and funding boost is another positive step towards achieving the government’s targets supporting young people to find appropriate housing that suits their needs, said the Summer Foundation’s Head of Government Relations and Policy, Amelia Condi.

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State Trustees Australia Foundation has allocated $25,000 to the Summer Foundation as part of the 2020 Community Inclusion grant round.

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The Summer Foundation has joined forces with 2 of Australia’s largest providers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – RSEA Safety and Blackwoods – to launch 2 online stores offering PPE for people with disability. 

The online stores will supply reasonably priced gloves, gowns, surgical masks, face shields, hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes, and will be accessible to NDIS participants from today.

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Close to 3,000 Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) places have been built or are now in the pipeline, according to a new report from Social Ventures Australia (SVA) and the Summer Foundation.

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The Summer Foundation, the Young People In Nursing Homes National Alliance, Youngcare, Synapse, the Specialist Disability Accommodation Alliance and Aged & Community Services Australia have released a joint statement:

Organisations supporting young people living in nursing homes have welcomed the Morrison Government’s commitment to work to the targets endorsed by the Aged Care Royal Commission that will see no younger person enter residential aged care by 2022 and no one under 65 years in aged care by 2025.

“This is an important step forward and we applaud the government for its commitment to these new targets,” said YPINH Alliance head, Dr Bronwyn Morkham. “The targets reflect the urgency of this problem – and they are certainly achievable – but it’s essential that we start now.

“We’re ready to work with the government to develop and implement its new strategy. We look forward to seeing more detail about these new initiatives, to make sure the strategy delivers on its promise.”

“We’re pleased to see that improved data gathering and detailed analyses of this cohort will form a central part of this work,” said Summer Foundation CEO Dr Di Winkler.

“We also welcome the government’s decision to implement a joint agency approach. Too many younger people end up in aged care because they fall through cracks between the health and disability systems. Bringing all the relevant agencies together is the only way we can stop this from continuing to happen. State health systems are key to this work and we look forward to being partners in this new strategy.”

Youngcare CEO Anthony Ryan said that developing a database of new and existing housing options will support investment in accessible housing.

“Helping investors better understand the needs of these younger people is critical to developing the housing and care options they need,” he said.

“The rapid availability of interim housing solutions is also a priority to stop younger people going into aged care.”

ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow also welcomed the announcement but called on the Morrison Government to ensure that those younger people also receive the level of support they require while they continue to live in an aged care home.  “There is often a funding disparity that disadvantages those people in aged care.  ACSA believes that regardless of your age or where you reside you should get the level of support required to meet needs and to have a good quality of life.”    

All organisations agree that funding is needed for individual advocacy to prevent young people going into aged care as well as help them make the transition back to life in the community.

“These are people needing multiple supports from different services and we need new roles that can work closely with each younger person and the service systems they need to make their transition to life in the community a success,” said Dr Morkham.

You can download a PDF copy of this statement here.

The Summer Foundation, the Young People In Nursing Homes National Alliance and Youngcare welcome the Aged Care Royal Commission’s Interim Report, which was released by the government today. In its report, the Commission has accepted two important targets relating to younger people living in aged care: allowing only for exceptional circumstances, an end to young Australians entering residential aged care by 2022, and no young Australian living in aged care by 2025. These targets should be adopted by governments immediately.

Alliance Director, Dr Bronwyn Morkham, said that the Commission’s acceptance of these targets was critical.

“We cannot risk another policy failure for these younger people. These targets give us a measurable objective by which we can solve this longstanding problem,” Dr Morkham said.

“No single government agency can fix this issue by itself. Health, disability and aged care systems must work together to achieve these targets and end the flow of young people into aged care,” Dr Morkham said.

“We must make sure that the Royal Commission’s work leads to solutions where human rights are upheld and where young people can choose where they live, who they live with, and how they are supported,” said Dr Di Winkler, Summer Foundation CEO.

“The funding is there in the NDIS, the will is there in the community, and with a good plan and dedicated focus, the issue can be resolved.”

Youngcare CEO Anthony Ryan said the report’s recommendations were a positive step towards ensuring young Australians with disability choose how they live their lives.

“Our passion is to give young people the choice that everyone deserves. In coming out so strongly, the Royal Commission gives a guide to what we all need to do to bring this about.”

The Interim Report was informed by young people living in aged care giving harrowing evidence to the Royal Commission.

Describing his nursing home room as “Cell 14”, Neale Radley spoke of the loneliness and isolation that is his life in aged care, while James Nutt referred to his time in a nursing home as a prison sentence.

You can download a PDF copy of this statement here.

The Summer Foundation has lodged its submission to the Aged Care Royal Commission.

The submission identifies the key policy and systemic changes needed to stop young people being forced into aged care. It covers what needs to change and how it can happen.

Our 12 recommendations are based on our extensive work with young people in aged care and with providers in the health and aged care sectors.

The people whose stories we used to illustrate the realities of living in aged care were selected from 95 young people who participated in one-on-one conversations with us.

Download here

People with disability in hospital and aged care now able to move home with support from the NDIS.

The Summer Foundation welcomes the decisions made on Friday by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Disability Reform Council for the NDIS to fund a range of disability-related health supports.

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An initiative announced today will help Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) providers understand their obligations in delivering high quality services to National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants.

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Joint Statement from the Summer Foundation and Youngcare

Announcements today about reforms to the Specialist Disability Accommodation Framework for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) have been welcomed by the Summer Foundation and Youngcare.

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The Australian Government has announced a review of the NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) framework.

This is an important opportunity to tell the government what parts of the SDA system are working well and what needs to be fixed. You can read the Summer Foundation’s statement on the SDA framework review here.

Alternative format (Microsoft Word) available here.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) presented its latest policy position for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) in a statement to the provider and investor market on 24 April.

People with disabilities and developers of innovative housing for people with disabilities are pleased the NDIA has reiterated the government’s commitment to SDA in its SDA Provider and Investor Brief. The NDIA has confirmed that the SDA funding model is here to stay.

However, the NDIA’s SDA Brief expresses a vision for SDA housing with a clear bias toward shared models of housing for people with disability, presumably to reduce support costs. This is unacceptable. You can read our joint statement here (A Rich text format is available here).

You can read the Summer Foundation’s summary of the SDA Brief here.

Feeling socially isolated or excluded is a frequent and enduring problem for many people who survive severe brain injury.

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Summer Foundation Forum to Explore the Impact of the NDIS, What is Working and What Still Needs Tweaking

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Research released today further demonstrates the urgent need for action to ensure the coordinated delivery of disability and health supports to young people with complex disability who are eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The report, Considerations for National Disability Insurance Scheme Design, also highlights the urgent need for further investment in a wider range of models of housing and support for NDIS participants.

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In 2015, The Summer Foundation launched three new reports that document the lessons learnt from developing our housing demonstration projects. Through these projects we want to demonstrate how well designed, well located, affordable and adaptable housing combined with smart home technology and appropriate support can improve quality of life, increase independence and decrease lifetime care costs for young people with disability.

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#MyHomeMatters is a call for solutions to the issue of young people with disability living in nursing homes.

The Summer Foundation’s work over the past eighteen months has seen an increasing number of young people with disability and their family members lend their voices to the growing call to resolve the need for young people to live in nursing homes.

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The Summer Foundation is proud to launch its latest publication, New Housing Options For People with Significant Disability: Design Insights. The report provides insights into design based on our learnings from our housing demonstration projects in Abbotsford, Victoria and the Hunter region of NSW.

The Summer Foundation is developing a small number of innovative housing and support projects to demonstrate a new and more inclusive housing option for people with significant disability.

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Summer Foundation was invited to present information about advances in the areas of housing and technology for young people in nursing homes this week. At this conference, Rebecca Wood and I showcased housing and support models that the Summer Foundation has been developing, and discussed what we have learnt from these models.

This conference is exploring the “new world” of technologies that is quickly unfolding around us, and which promises great new opportunities for people with disabilities. These technologies include driverless cars, wheelchairs operated by thoughts only, and robots that can interpret your intentions and respond in “real time”. Some of the biggest technology companies in the world were there to discuss a future most of us haven’t even started to dream about yet.

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Young people with complex disabilities and high support needs are often moved into nursing homes direct from hospital or rehabilitation. Coordinating their health and disability supports while living in aged care frequently means people seesaw between the two systems. How can we improve this situation?

This question and more will be explored in detail by our panel of experts at this year’s annual public forum, a free public event hosted by the Summer Foundation.

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