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On 2 December 2015, the Disability Network Forum (DNF) held a forum Beyond Accommodation; Housing that works for people with disability to explore how, with the right support, people with disability can access an array of housing options that will give them real choice and control in their lives.

The forum was attended by over 80 people across the NSW and Federal Government, as well as from housing and disability organisations.

There are a number of developments in relation to housing and people with disability connected to the roll out of the NDIS and the transfer of ownership of group homes owned by the NSW Government. It is important that injections of funding facilitate housing that aligns with current policy aims to create communities that are more inclusive of people with disability. Without choice in housing, the choice and control that people with disability can have over their lives is limited. While few have complete choice about housing, the tradeoffs made by people with disability should mirror those made by others, rather than being circumscribed by Government policy.

The event aimed to highlight the DNF’s vision of safe, secure, affordable and accessible housing, independent of disability support. Traditionally, the primary options available to people with disability have been models of supported accommodation in which support is tied to housing. This means that where a person is not happy with the support, they are forced to move homes. If the person wants to move location, they are forced to give up support. The separation of housing and support is critical to enhance opportunities for choice and control, giving residents both tenancy rights, and control over their support.

Speakers at the event showed that with the right support, people with disability can access an array of housing options that will give them real choice and control in their lives. Four people, each with significant disability, spoke powerfully about their homes in the community, and what made it work for them. They emphasised security and well-being where they were, in the words of one speaker, “the boss”. Enablers of this autonomy, choice and control included proximity to transport and relationships in community, which are at least as important as person centered paid support.

The personal experiences were complimented by speakers discussing the context of housing policy and the research discussing people with disability successfully transitioning to living in the community. To end the day, one service’s story of devolution to person centred support was shared, providing a best practice example for others to follow.

Attendees benefited from the opportunity to expand their networks and hear from people with disability about what is important to them in housing. It is clear that this issue requires attention across all types of housing, and that planning and universal design are integral to the solution.

NCOSS thanks KPMG for its generous support of the event.