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Housing and living supports that are fair, consistent and promote choice

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Housing and living supports for participants who require 24/7 support are a key feature of the NDIS

Achieving better housing and living outcomes for participants is critical to the scheme delivering on its promise of greater inclusion for people with disability in the economic and social life of the community. Given a home is foundational to genuine inclusion and participation, participants must have choice and control over where, how and with whom they live. Genuine choice is also fundamental to realising the rights outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).159

Participants can access a range of housing and living supports depending on their needs and circumstances - from home-related assistive technology and home modifications to more intensive and ongoing accommodation and independent living support.

These supports are particularly critical for participants who have high support needs and require a significant amount of assistance throughout the day as well as overnight supports. There are close to 41,000 participants receiving 24/7 living supports. This includes around 31,500 participants with Supported Independent Living (SIL) funding and close to 9,500 participants receiving an equivalent high level of Assistance with Daily Life (ADL) supports.160

We define 24/7 living supports as participants who require at least eight hours of active support and/or supervision with activities of daily living and some level of support for the remaining hours of the day while at home, including overnight assistance (whether active or passive).

Housing and living supports account for a large share of overall scheme costs. In the year to 30 June 2023, SIL payments alone were $8.8 billion, representing a quarter of total scheme payments.161

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Housing and living funding decisions are inconsistent, inequitable and opaque

Many participants with housing and living supports in their plans still have limited choice in where, how or with whom they live. Participants with similar levels of need and circumstance do not always receive similar levels of funding.

My friend and I submitted our applications for SDA and SIL supports for our boys in September both have very similar needs. We worked on this together, had the same support coordinator, submitted them on the same day. We included proof that our boys have spent their entire lives together in the form of a pictorial history. My son was approved for both SDA and SIL supports and mention of pieces of information in the reports were included in the reasons why decision was made. A week or so later my friend received a rejection for SIL, SDA and in fact supports were reduced. There were also massive errors in the plan. Remembering this young man is the child of a 73 year old woman who needs to make plans for her son’s future. My friend was totally devastated.

- Carer 162

Individualised support for people with very intensive support needs was provided before the NDIS was introduced, and will continue. Single living arrangements with no sharing of living supports (or only sharing overnight supports) for some participants with 24/7 needs are appropriate to be funded in specified circumstances. However, currently there is no clear guidance for participants or providers on when participants should have access to these arrangements. This poses risks to the financial sustainability of the scheme and creates uncertainty for participants.

Too many participants and families are left to seek clarity through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). While less than one in twenty participants had Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) in their plan, one in ten planning-related AAT applications in 2022-23 had SDA in dispute.163

While single living arrangements with no sharing of supports are needed in specified circumstances, they can lead to isolation and poor outcomes for participants.

We have heard participants often do not have access to the information, advice and support they need to make genuine informed choice on where and with whom they live, in line with a human rights framework.164 Planning conversations are often disjointed and focused on short term issues.165 Many participants are not supported to prepare for housing and living solutions early. When considering their options, they cannot easily access the information and support that would enable them to explore and compare different housing and living solutions, both within and outside the scheme.

Housing conversations need to happen early on in the planning process to allow people who have a housing need to properly consider their housing and living arrangements. Support coordinators need to be upskilled to have proper housing related housing conversations with people with disability or there needs to be dedicated housing support coordinators.

– Carer 166

There are also very limited opportunities to trial alternative housing and living solutions. It is very difficult to make informed choices when you have not had the opportunity to experience different options. This particularly affects those with cognitive disability and people with limited informal support networks.

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