Summary report of a survey People with Disability Australia (PWDA) conducted on National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) housing supports for the Independent Review of the NDIS
In late 2022, the Government announced an independent review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (the NDIS Review). As part of PWDA’s response to the NDIS Review, we conducted an online survey about NDIS participants’ choice and control in NDIS-funded housing and supports. PWDA designed and conducted the survey. Feedback on the survey questions was sought from and provided by the NDIS Review Secretariat. The survey asked qualitative and quantitative questions concerning people’s experiences and satisfaction with their housing and supports. The survey questions focused on whether participants felt they could choose or change housing and support providers and whether they could raise issues with providers.
The survey received 76 responses.
The survey’s quantitative responses were largely mixed, with respondents reporting both negative and positive experiences. In addition, many questions were not answered by a high number of respondents, which led to difficulty in deducing clear themes. What did emerge strongly is that if given more choice and control, respondents would prefer to live in privately owned accommodation and would prefer to live by themselves or with their partner and/or children.
The qualitative data revealed the following themes:
- a serious lack of available and appropriately skilled support workers, particularly for people with disability who have complex needs
- the lack of support workers compromises choice and control and results in some participants not receiving any support
- power imbalance between Supported Independent Living (SIL) providers and clients, with SIL providers putting organisational needs ahead of participants’ will and preferences, and
- difficulty in raising issues with providers for a range of reasons, including fear of losing the service and receiving adversarial responses.
- thin housing markets inhibiting participants’ choice and control
- some housing providers not allowing participants to have choice and control in selecting support workers.
- participants experiencing lengthy delays in responding to home modification requests, which can leave them in inaccessible housing
- difficulty and stress in dealing with the NDIS when home modifications are required
- the inability to access Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) funding, leading to fears of homelessness.
A limited number of respondents reported positive experiences, mostly to express satisfaction with being able to choose their own support workers. This included one respondent who reported great satisfaction with their ‘concierge model’ SDA apartment that allowed participants to have their own support workers. In summary, respondents shared mixed experiences in housing and support choice and control. However, those who have had negative experiences reported very concerning circumstances, suggesting that the NDIA must undertake significant reform to address deficiencies.
To address the issues raised in this report, we make the following high-level recommendations to the current NDIS Review.
Recommendation 1 – That the NDIS Review recommends urgent action to be taken to address the support worker and accessible housing shortages.
Recommendation 2 – In continuing its examination of NDIS workforce issues, the NDIS Review examines whether NDIS support worker providers and support workers themselves place participants’ will and preferences at the centre of their work.
Recommendation 3 – The NDIS Review recommend that housing providers and support providers should be separate to avoid conflict of interest.
Recommendation 4 – The NDIS Review conduct an in-depth analysis of systemic barriers and delays in accessing home modifications and make recommendations to resolve these barriers and delays in their final report.