Last month the NDIA released two key documents that will guide the future of the Specialist Disability Accommodation (“SDA”) market in Australia.

One of these documents was the NDIS Innovation Plan (and the other was the SDA Price Guide update, which we discuss here.  To assist those that are looking to develop, operate or reside in SDA dwellings, we set out below the key features of the NDIS Innovation Plan that you should be aware of.

The NDIS Innovation Plan

Key Takeaways

  1. The NIDA believes there is insufficient supply of SDA and that existing SDA is not meeting participants’ needs.
  2. The NDIA has created a 3 phase approach to address this problem:
    1. Involving participants in the SDA design process.
    2. Gathering evidence on new technologies and SDA models that are (or are not) working.
    3. Implementing policies to individualise SDA in participants’ plans, allowing for greater community involvement and releasing research findings to facilitate future SDA projects.

Idea Behind the Plan

The NDIA believes that the current SDA market is not adequately meeting the needs of NDIS participants because:

  • there is a lack of choice and diversity for participants due to the low supply of SDA.
  • SDA needs to be more individually tailored to the needs of the participant, and better integrated into the wider community to facilitate independence and community inclusion.

To make SDA dwellings and projects ‘homes for living’ as opposed to ‘a places where services happen’, the NDIA has developed an Innovation Plan (“Plan”) with the goal of:

  • starting conversations around the types of homes participants prefer;
  • conditions that will support innovation and change; and
  • the various roles key players can take in driving the change.

In short, the objectives of the Plan are to allow for greater choice and control by the participant and to make SDA homes standalone homes that are intermingled and indistinguishable from the rest of the neighbourhood.  The central theme is to move away from high numbers of participants living together because this will result in better long-term outcomes and community participation.

Funding and Data Share Arrangements

The NDIS has also recently revised their SDA funding and data sharing arrangements to increase confidence in the SDA market.

The Plan includes three pillars that support the principles of this plan.

  1. Design in partnership;
  2. Promote the leading edge; and
  3. Participants within their community.

Pillar 1: Design in partnership

  • Participants will be at the centre of innovative SDA design. This is to ensure their needs and preferences are the basis for change.
  • The quality of information and support provided to participants about SDA will be improved in a way that targets the individual’s needs.
  • Information to SDA developers about the participant’s needs and preferences will be increased to allow for the developers to deliver homes to those preferences.
  • This approach will provide the NDIA with a greater understanding of the living preferences and requirements of participants.

Pillar 2: Promote the leading edge

  • Designs and ideas will be evidence-based to ensure that SDA designs lead to good outcomes for participants. This will include the built form, technology, supports in the home and links to the community.
  • An increase in information will allow for evidence based investment and development.
  • Research will be done into integrated technologies that may reduce the need for other supports as well as into physical locations and gaps in participant needs.
  • Research will be released on the NDIS website.

Pillar 3: Participants within their community

  • The range of support models that meet individual needs and demonstrate how SDA facilitates greater community connection will be identified and increased.
  • By having an increased ability to individualise funding and to separate living supports from housing supports, participants will have greater choice and control over where they live.
  • The NDIA will:
    • release a policy on funding for individual living options.
    • Share information on inclusive design and community responses.
    • Release participant preference data to inform future SDA development.


Phase 1 – November 2019 – May 2020

Phase 2 – June 2020 – December 2020

Phase 3 – January 2021 – June 2021