Special Disability Accommodation Supply

Sourced from: Robin Zakharov and Samuel Thorp. (2020) Specialist Disability Accommodation Supply in Australia, Social Ventures Australia and Summer Foundation.

The purpose of the Specialist Disability Accommodation Supply in Australia 2020 report was to present the findings of the SDA providers and developers survey and provide a snapshot of the growth of SDA supply across Australia.

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) is specially designed housing that is suitable to the needs of people who have ‘extreme functional impairment’ or ‘very high support needs’. Under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), around 28,000 people will be funded for SDA.

The report identifies that nearly 3,000 SDA places have been built or are now in the pipeline, shares insights on market sentiment and SDA management arrangements. Furthermore, it highlights the significant lack in SDA housing, with an estimated 9,000 places still needed to meet demand and many people with a disability currently living in poor quality homes.

To benefit members and stakeholders, Shelter WA has created this briefing to highlight the modelling of undersupply of SDA and the snapshot of Western Australia provided by the full report.

Key findings

Modelling Undersupply of SDA

Following on from the 2018 survey modelling, this report modelled the supply of existing SDA (based on the number of people receiving disability accommodation services under the pre-NDIS system) to identify and map potential areas of SDA undersupply.

  • Whereby undersupply was modelled using a proxy indicator of SDA supply from pre-NDIS administrative data.

As shown in the table below, significant SDA supply shortfall exists within Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

Table 6 – SDA modelled undersupply, taking into account estimated existing supply and SDA supply in development

State Snapshot – Western Australia

  • 116 SDA dwellings are in development in WA currently, which is a significant increase to the 16 dwelling developments recorded in the 2018 survey.
  • In WA the SDA developments are mostly apartment buildings under the high physical support category. The below chart shows the 116 WA SDA developments by building type and design category.
New SDA Developments in WA by Design Category and Building Type
  • New SDA development in WA is fairly equal between the different provides as the following graph shows. SDA development reported in WA is either awaiting building and finance approval or is contractually committed to building.
Profile of SDA Development Providers in WA

Managing Specialist Disability Accommodation

Managing SDA is challenging due to many factors including:
– Slow and “painstaking” process for NDIS participants to seek approval of SDA funding,
– Poor communication by NDIA staff with SDA providers,
– The gap of unmet demand and uncertainty of demand requirements,
– and difficulty connecting with potential tenants.

The survey found that almost 50 per cent of respondents thought that they would be “likely” or “very likely” to have difficulty filling their vacancies.

Conclusion and further considerations

With Western Australia being in the top four states nationally for the highest shortfall in SDA supply there needs to be a focus of increasing the number of future SDA developments within our highest demand regions. Furthermore, the difficulties which providers face when managing SDA properties also needs further investigation on a state by state basis to ensure needs are met in the future.


Sourced from: Robin Zakharov and Samuel Thorp. (2020) Specialist Disability Accommodation Supply in Australia, Social Ventures Australia and Summer Foundation. https://www.socialventures.com.au/assets/Specialist-Disability-Accommodation-Supply-in-Australia-March-2020-webres.pdf

Read the document in full.