The National Disability Insurance Agency is failing to provide participants with access to appropriate accommodation when they have been assessed as needing it, and making decisions in relation to Specialist Disability Housing that are extensively delayed, potentially unlawful and/or unfair.
These are key findings of Housing Delayed and Denied, released today by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Housing Hub.
SDA is housing that incorporates features such as wider doorways and corridors to accommodate a wheelchair, or a hoist in the bedroom or bathroom. It can provide life-changing independence for people with a disability.
The report, which analysed 171 appeals in relation to NDIA decisions finds that the agency:
- Makes regular and significant errors in administering processes
- Is failing to meet obligations to participants when reviewing funding decisions
- Makes decisions that are unfair, opaque and delayed
- Often ignores the needs and circumstances of participants
The report also shows that three quarters of participants are refused funding by the NDIA for the type of housing they are assessed as requiring. On appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the vast majority of people have matters resolved in their favour – with Tribunal members finding that participants’ requests are reasonable and supported by evidence.
Housing Hub Acting General Manager, Joanne Mear:
‘The data shows that people are waiting months for an initial decision regarding their housing from the NDIA, and when it is finally made it often doesn’t align with what the person’s health reports have shown they need.’
‘Having to wait and having to fight has a real impact on people who are stuck in housing that is not meeting their needs or is unsafe. We are seeing healthy people left in hospital wards and younger people left living in aged care: these are inappropriate places to live long term.’
‘People with a disability shouldn’t have to fight for years or get a lawyer just to get the housing they need and are entitled to.’
PIAC Senior Solicitor Mitchell Skipsey:
‘In the past year, increasing numbers of NDIS participants have reported problems with the way the NDIA makes decisions about access to SDA. The agency is refusing applications for SDA for no proper basis, or making decisions that neglect the needs, circumstances and choices of the people who are affected by them.’
‘The NDIS was established to ensure that people with disability have access to the same opportunities as other Australians. They should not have to wait for weeks or months, and argue with the government and its lawyers, simply to get housing that meets their needs.’
‘The NDIA’s practices in this area potentially breach the law and are inconsistent with the principles and design of the Scheme and its goal to give dignity and choice to participants.’
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Housing Hub are two of the close to 150 organisations backing the ‘Down to 10 days’ campaign which is seeking the NDIA to make faster, more accurate decisions on housing for NDIS participants.
Media contact: PIAC Media and Communications Manager, Gemma Pearce: 0478 739 280.