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Disability housing and support for younger people with very high and complex care needs: Closing the gap through the NDIS

18 Apr 2017, by Informa Insights

Luke Bo’sher, Head of Policy and Strategy, Summer Foundation will be speaking at the upcoming 2017 Younger People with Very High and Complex Care Needs Conference. At Informa Insights, we spoke to Luke about his work, current projects and presentation agenda prior to the conference.


Q: You are the currently the Head of Policy and Strategy at The Summer Foundation. Can you share what is about working in the Disability sector that you were drawn to?


So many people with disability in Australia have never had access to the support they need to live a fulfilling life. Too often, a person’s disability has prevented them from participating in the community and the workforce because as a society we have not invested in overcoming the barriers society has erected.

This is an incredibly exciting moment in Australia’s history where, for the first time, we are closing that gap through the NDIS. Having worked on disability from the front line of service delivery in very traditional group home accommodation for young people with complex support needs, right through to the centre of government policy making in the Prime Minister’s negotiating team for the NDIS, I can see how the NDIS can address this enduring gap.

Every day there are challenges we come up against in the NDIS, but the next few years are such an opportunity to get things right to improve the lives of people with a disability and make our society a more inclusive place to live for all Australians.



Q: You are going to present an address discussing Policy Issues and Solutions in the NDIS for YPwVHCCN. Without giving too much away about your upcoming presentation, can you describe how you feel the NDIS is making a difference in terms of making sure YPwVHCCN have greater choice and control in terms of their support and accommodation needs?


The NDIS brings significant additional funding that has been lacking in order to support young people to live in the community and to create the housing options young people require.

The NDIS principles and policy have focused on a separation of tenancy and support. This maximises people with a disability’s choice and control in life because it allows them to change support providers without having to move homes.

Unfortunately, this principle and policy preference has not been imbedded in the housing rules that providers must abide by. As a result, the NDIS is consistently talking about choice and control, but leaving it up to providers to choose whether or not to separate their housing and support.

This is a shame as it reduces the potential of the NDIS to unbundle housing and support.

The NDIS’ approach to housing and support does provide participants more choice about providers. There are some challenges in the transition away from the historical government grants based system, as some governments are listing their housing or support as ‘in-kind’. This requires participants to choose this housing or support, rather than take up new and innovative options in the community.

As the NDIS moves from Transition to Full Scheme we hope to see much more participant choice and control over all aspects of their support and housing arrangements.



Q: You are joining the closing panel of the conference based around Not Just Bricks and Mortar – Getting the Support Models Right in New Housing Options? Can you share your thoughts on the key factors necessary to ensure we get the right support models in terms of new housing options?


The Summer Foundation is developing housing initiatives that deliberately focus on independence building and community inclusion. We see there being four factors that we need in place to get the right housing models.


  • Housing is accessible and its location helps to build community connections. 
Accessible design that is adaptable to the diverse needs of this group is essential to maximise independence and community inclusion. Effective housing design would reduce the need for funded supports (such as attendant care and domestic assistance) while enabling people with a disability to be more independent in their daily lives.


  • Housing choices are diverse, including enabling people with a disability to live with their family. 
Young people in RAC are a diverse group; they need a range of options to meet their needs, preferences and family circumstances, including the 46% who have a partner and the 27% who have school aged children The housing options available to people with a disability need to enable people’s choices and preferences to change over time, in the same way as the broader Australian population has different housing needs and preferences over their lifetime.


  • Investors have faith in the structure and delivery of the NDIA’s housing payment scheme.
Creating housing for all 12,000 people with a disability who will get an NDIS housing payment and need new housing will require at least $4.8 billion. There is a significant opportunity to engage private and social investors in the building and management of housing for young people in RAC if the policy and implementation of NDIS housing funds is crafted to provide reasonable returns, and mitigate some of the risks
for investors.


  • The design and delivery of housing and support models is innovative and highly collaborative. An effective housing system within the NDIS would be constantly innovating to create higher quality housing options. There would be investments in the design of housing to trial and evaluate the impact of different design options that reduce the cost of housing and improve the accessibility of the dwelling and quality of life for people with a disability.




Q: Are there any presentations from the 5th  Annual Younger People with Very High and Complex Care Needs Conference that you are particularly looking forward to?  


The Victorian Transport Accident Commission (TAC) presentation on early intervention is sure to be a highlight – there is a lot we can learn from compensable schemes about how to best decide when to intervene. This is particularly critical in the NDIS where we don’t yet have the evidence to justify getting in earlier and in a more streamlined way to give people the right supports at the right time.


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