Supporting accessible housing supply in rural and remote markets - Summer Foundation
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Supporting accessible housing supply in rural and remote markets


Access to appropriate housing for people with disability can be challenging. This challenge is more so in thin markets, including rural and remote areas, where there are often fewer housing options generally.

The Summer Foundation has just released the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) in Thin Markets resource that identifies challenges and barriers to delivering SDA in thin markets. It explains the role that housing providers, disability support providers and all members of the community play in shaping opportunities for people with disability. The resource focuses on areas in rural and remote Western Australia and Queensland but holds true for other similar locations and thin markets.

SDA is housing that has been specially designed or modified to suit the needs of people who have an extreme functional impairment or very high support needs. It is estimated that around 6% (28,000) of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants will be eligible for SDA funding.

A “thin market” describes a gap in the market, which may mean there is demand but low or no supply, or the demand is unknown.

The successful development of SDA in thin markets relies heavily on market stewardship from all levels of government – the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), state and territory governments, local governments and councils. Likewise, providers, NDIS participants and the wider community have a role in enabling SDA opportunities. 

The Summer Foundation’s Specialist Disability Accommodation Supply in Australia Report (January 2021) found there are no SDA dwellings expected to be built in the next 12 months in either Western Australia’s Bunbury, Outback and Wheat Belt regions or Queensland’s Mackay and Outback regions.

There are many factors SDA providers need to consider when delivering SDA to a thin market. Four particular barriers to SDA that were repeatedly identified through research and engagement were limited workforce, unknown demand, financial risk and lack of market coordination.

The SDA in Thin Markets resource looks at some of the key considerations for rural and remote locations, Robust SDA and the impact the lack of SDA has on other mainstream systems.

Each of these thin markets presents additional impacts for NDIS participants in finding and accessing the right type of SDA. Significantly, the gaps in provision of supports in rural and remote areas is one of the key challenges to securing a home.

A successful SDA market in rural and remote areas would mean NDIS participants have choice and control over where and how they live. NDIS participants would also have adequate supports and increased community participation.  

Capacity building for NDIS participants, their families and loved ones, support coordinators and the wider community on the housing options available, including SDA, is essential in enabling greater supply of SDA.  Increasing the supply of SDA in thin markets, including rural and remote, will mean NDIS participants with access to SDA funding will no longer need to live in inappropriate accommodation such as aged care, hospital or group homes.  

SDA in Thin Markets – the challenges and barriers to delivering SDA in thin markets was produced as part of the Summer Foundation’s NDIS Housing Options project which has been  funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

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