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There have been a number of updates recently to Specialist Disability Accomodation (SDA) under the NDIS. The progress has introduced its own design standard which provide greater clarity for investors, builders, assessors and participants as to what features they can expect in an SDA home.

Notably, these updates have generated:

  • Greater certainty for investors with introduction of 2 phase certification (see below content highlighted)
  • Robust and improved Liveability categories have much greater detail (although more specific neurodiversity design features continue to be lacking)
  • Increased clarity around assistive technology requirements and provisions for the high physical support category, however the specific requirements surrounding back up power continues to be challenging for SDA providers

Introduction of SDA-specific Design Standards

SDA design standards released on October 25th 2019 supersede the Livable Housing Design guidelines that SDA had been based on until now. These standards have been developed through extensive consultation.

The updated SDA Design Standards articulate the requirements that shall be incorporated into new built Specialist Disability Accommodation under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This SDA Design Standard document is based on the four categories of SDA design which are set out in the SDA Rules, namely:

  • Improved Liveability
  • Robust
  • Fully Accessible
  • High Physical Support

The improved clarity of design requirements will add to provider confidence and surety of compliance. Ultimately, this will strengthen the SDA market.

SDA Accredited Assessors 

The release of the standards means that from 1st July, 2021, all applications to enrol a dwelling for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) will be required to include a certificate from an Accredited SDA Assessor. SDA assessors will as a part of the certification process, nominate the Design Category the dwelling satisfies based on the Design Standards.

New Design standards mandated SDA assessors can be 1 of 4 professions:

  • Builder surveyors
  • Architect
  • OT
  • Access Consultant

With additional qualifications of a cert 4 or diploma in access consulting required for all professionals.

Optimal Living Therapy founder, Lauren Hart has been completing SDA certifications and consultation for almost 2 years and attended the first SDA assessor course on February 3rd in Melbourne, successfully completed the exam will be in the first roll out of assessors from March 31st (Livable Housings date for registrations).

Both the SDA Design Standard and the Implementation Plan can be found at here. 


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