Poor housing outcomes for people with disability are associated with affordability barriers due to their low incomes, resulting from low rates of participation in paid employment.
People with a disability are over-represented in housing assistance programs, social housing waiting list and rentals. Furthermore, home ownership rates among people with disability, particularly those with profound or severe disability, are significantly lower than the general population.
Poor housing outcomes are compounded by housing design that inhibits accessibility. Although public spaces are required to be accessible, there is no equivalent national requirement for housing design. Voluntary initiatives to increase supply of adaptable or accessible housing— such as the Liveable Housing Australia (LHA) Guidelines—have been largely ineffective, despite an ageing population, demand for newly built accessible housing in the private market has remained fairly low.
Due to the lack of accessible and adaptable housing, many households are currently forced to live in dwellings that are unsuitable and inadequate for their needs. This impacts negatively on their health and wellbeing.
Providing financial support for those households to retrofit their current housing to comply with the Housing Australia Guidelines would not only enable them to stay in their home and move around independently, but it would also suit people over a long-life cycle.
It is crucial, that any initiatives and policy measures that are developed, are involving people with disability in all aspects of designing, implementing and monitoring the strategy, as well as the programs and action that might affect them. This included making sure people with disability have access to the same opportunities in the community as everyone else; and that community attitudes, awareness and understanding within the community is improved.