The experience of a house as a home is an important contributor to the quality of our lives. Our homes are often the heart of our life, where we spend time with our family and friends, the base for our community engagement and where we feel comfortable and safest.
I believe that an essential element of a good life is safe and secure housing. People with disability should have access to accommodation and services that support living independently that not only makes them feel safe and secure but also feels like, and is, their home.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was designed to enhance the lives of people with disability and amplify their rights in accordance with the UN convention of the rights of people with disability. While the NDIS has been in operation for almost a decade and has enacted a shift to consumer independence and consumer driven markets to elevate quality, there are some areas and service types where this shift has not been fully realised. One of those areas is Supported Disability Accommodation.
As young adults, share homes are where many Australians take their first step to independence and learn to navigate living with different people. For many people with disability, sharing with other people is also a feature of home life in supported accommodation, but their experience is too often characterised by limited choice and a sub-optimal home environment.
During 2021 and 2022, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission undertook an Own Motion Inquiry (the Inquiry) focused on the experiences of NDIS participants living in supported accommodation to better understand the challenges faced by participants in living in these settings and providers in creating environments that support participants’ disability needs, while providing a sense of home.
I would like to thank Arthur Rogers for undertaking the Inquiry in its early stages and Rose Webb and Samantha Taylor for working on the Inquiry for much of 2022. I also want to acknowledge the work of Professor Christine Bigby in completing the accompanying literature review.
This Inquiry has found:
- There is a need for specific regulation of group home settings to enhance the quality and safety of these settings for people with disability.
- Greater engagement with people living in group homes is required to support their exercise of choice and control.
- The attitude and aptitude of the workforce drives a high number of the issues evident in group home settings.
- The interaction of supported independent living (SIL) and specialist disability accommodation (SDA) arrangements affects the ability of people with disability in supported accommodation to make changes to their living arrangements.
- We need to better understand the supported accommodation market and how people interact with it including by improving the collection, monitoring and analysis of relevant data.
- The interface with health and the supported accommodation system is not effective for many people living in these settings.
One of the key aims of this Inquiry was to identify models of best practice for the delivery of supported accommodation that can inform the NDIS Commission’s capacity building work with providers, and the development of relevant practice standards and quality indicators. This component of the Inquiry has been delivered through a literature review conducted by a body with expertise in researching models of best practice and supported accommodation for people with disability (see appendix D).
We also identified a range of issues relating to the 7 providers covered in depth by the Inquiry. A detailed analysis and review of each of these providers has been provided to the NDIS Commission executive for separate follow up action, which will include consideration of potential compliance and monitoring action where appropriate.
I would like to acknowledge these providers and their willingness to commit to continuous improvement to ensure their service offerings align with the intent of the NDIS and contribute to creating a good life and homes for their participants. Going forward, I will also be taking a personal interest in the active responses of each of the providers.
The Commission’s response to the findings of this Inquiry includes commitments to new initiatives together with other activities targeting group home settings which will be integrated into our ongoing work program. A priority for us will be ensuring people with disability and their families/supporters are consulted on how best to implement changes arising from this Inquiry.
Some of the key new initiatives we will undertake to address the issues raised by this Inquiry include:
- changes to regulation and monitoring of supported accommodation, including the development and introduction of new standards for supported accommodation
- developing targeted programs of communication, engagement and education to amplify the voice of people with disability living in supported accommodation
- increasing oversight of all supported independent living (SIL) services, including unregistered providers, to ensure they are meeting the NDIS Code of Conduct.
Lastly, I would like to thank the many NDIS participants who took time to speak to our inquirers and myself, sharing their experience, challenges and aspirations. At the Commission we look forward to hearing more from all of you and many other people with disabilities as seek to improve choices and quality across the disability sector.
NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner
16 January 2023