Having a Home Forum Report

The Having a Home Forum on Housing Options for People with Disability – report

On Friday, 16 November 2018, the ACT Office for Disability brought together people from throughout the ecosystem of housing for people with disability for a day of exchange of ideas and opportunities for the ACT. The Having a Home Forum on Housing Options for People with Disability (the Forum) brought together people with disability, families and carers, community services, financiers and innovators.

Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA, Minister for Disability opened the Forum with a warm welcome and recognition of the importance of this conversation for the community and the commitment of the ACT government to continue to support people with disability, their families, service providers and the community to find cross-sector solutions.

The Forum consisted of three sessions: a morning session focusing on big picture issues around bricks, mortar, supply and demand; an afternoon session sharing experiences of what’s working already across Australia; and an evening “World Café” session inviting participants to engage in round-table discussions with experts in the field.

The Forum received more than 180 registrations for attendance and 100% of the Forum evaluation survey respondents evaluated the day as “worth attending”, containing “useful information”.

Session 1: Bricks, mortar, supply and demand

This session was for all community members, including people with disability and their families interested in learning more about Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) funding, ACT Government policy levers and the experiences of interstate counterparts. The information focused on the role of developers, builders, investors, financiers, lawyers, community housing providers, disability specialist providers.

1.1 Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)

Presented by Toni McInnes, National Disability Insurance Agency

1.2 Working with SDA funding to deliver housing for people with disability

Presented by Dan McLennan, CEO, Summer Housing (Melbourne)

1.3 The current landscape of disability housing in the ACT

Yvette Berry MLA, Minister for Housing reiterated the ACT Government’s commitment to facilitating access to a variety of housing options for people with disability in the ACT community.

Louise Gilding (Housing ACT) spoke about the consultation process to develop the new ACT Housing Strategy in 2018 including the Affordable Housing Consultative Group. Brooke Yates, Manager, Housing ACT gave a visual walk-through of an example property that shows the layout and fittings of ACT Housing properties.

Elizabeth Howell (Environment, Planning, Sustainable Development Directorate) presented on the policy landscape for housing in the ACT, including the ACT Housing Strategy. Elizabeth noted that in 2019, a second round of projects will be funded from the Housing Innovation Fund and include funding for pilot projects looking at the home-sharing model and increasing supply of affordable accommodation for people with a disability.

1.4 Legal and financing options

Presented by Tony Rutherford, Moores (Sydney).

Tony covered three main topics: funding sources; different development models; and options for individuals not eligible for SDA. Tony asserted that the current lending environment is difficult as financial institutions are cautious and risk assessment is more complex.

There were four different development models discussed:

Options outside of SDA were also discussed including: interest free loans to individuals (e.g. Project Independence); disability service providers; blended models and build-to-rent schemes.

1.5 Learning from the Hunter Experience

Presented by Kirk Robinson BFIN investment bank (Sydney)

NOTE: Please note at approximately the 20 minute mark, the presenter talks about $125,000 per dwelling being available to individuals through the ACT Housing Strategy Innovation Fund – however this information is inaccurate, and has been subsequently corrected. The accurate information is that Round 2 of the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund (as a part of the ACT Housing Strategy) will include a category allocating a total of $125,000 for projects that increase the supply of affordable accommodation suitable for people with a disability. This funding is intended to provide seed funding for pilot project/s that may be suitable for scaling or replication, rather than necessarily providing direct support for an individual’s construction project.


Session 2: What’s working already?

This afternoon session used a fast-paced “pitch” approach to hear about a wide range of models, services and approaches.

2.1 Housing Support Coordinator Services + preparing for change - Court Walters, Araluen Services (Melbourne)

Court Walters presented on Investigating Housing Solutions (IHS) coordination support services provided through Araleun services (Melbourne). The program includes preparing housing plans, working with allied health, interpreting the SDA rules and developing a report to test eligibility for SDA.

2.2 The Vibe – using existing equity to build SDA dwellings - Presented by Elaine and Brian Michaels and LiveBetter (Wagga Wagga)

Elaine and Brian Michaels describe their journey with daughter Kristen, to build an accessible SDA dwelling in Wagga, including the process of finding and considering housemates, financing, SDA and working with Liveable Housing Australia through the design process.

2.3 Investing for Security of Tenure - Hugh Packard, CEO, Valmar Support Services

Hugh Packard described a simple model to facilitate purchasing of homes for people with disability either independently or with house mates – where each participant contributes to the deposit for the house and then the rent is calculated to cover the mortgage repayments. The residents of the house are then able to accrue the capital gains and realise those if their circumstances changed. SDA and SIL packages can then be utilised to support modifications and supports to promote independent living.

2.4 Using technology to find a home and housemates - Neil Skipper, Managing Director, Havelock Housing Association

Neil Skipper spoke about Havelock Housing’s Disability Housing Hub, established with funding from the ACT Government. The hub is a forum where people with disability, their families and carers can access what is required https://www.havelock.asn.au/disability-housing-hub/External Link

2.5 Mixed tenancy and creating community - Sally Richards (parent of Jackson West) and Eric Thauvette, CEO, Hartley

Sally and Eric presented on the foundation and creation of the Benambra Intentional Community including a co-residency model and partnership with Hartley Lifecare.

2.6 Innovative models for living in your own home - Dougie Herd, Executive Director, Community Connections

Dougie described his experience in the Australian housing market, having moved from the UK, and that the voluntary building codes in contrast to the UK where accessible design requirements have been made compulsory.

2.7 Safeguards - Sally Gibson, Director, ACT Community Services Directorate

Sally presented on the legal and regulatory aspects of safeguards that should be kept in mind when seeking accommodation or services for people with disability, including the importance of a clear agreement with the housing provider that covers tenancy, occupancy and purchase/ownership agreement including provisions if you wish to change your support provider or housing arrangement.

2.8 Wraparound SDA development services - Owen Jourdian, Illowra Services (Victoria)

Owen described the work of Illowra Projects for helping families become the developers for individual or family home ownership including advice, person-centred design, project management and property management.


Session 3: How do we get to having a home?

The evening “World Café” session was an opportunity for Forum participants to step themselves through the “housing pathways” that are relevant for them, bringing together a wide range of participants and experts, including people with disability and their families – covering the many elements of planning and preparing to have a home.

The aims of this session was to:

There were seven topics to choose from including SDA, affordability, safeguards, designing and building, ‘what is a home?’, housing for connection and community.
The notes below outline topics discussed at each “World Café” table.

Theme: Specialist Disability Accommodation

Hosted by: Toni McInnes, National Disability Insurance Agency

Discussions included:

Theme: Self-Financing

Hosted by: Wendy Prowse, Beyond Bank

Discussions included:

Theme: Affordability

Hosted by:
Deb Foulcher, Housing ACT
Elizabeth Howell, Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate

Discussions included:

Theme: Safeguards

Hosted by:
Sally Gibson, Social Housing Registrar

Discussions included:

What safeguards should we pay particular attention to?

Theme: What is home?

Hosted by: Wayne Browne, Carers ACT

Discussions included:

Theme: Design and build – house by house

Hosted by: Leanne Broad, Senior Occupational Therapist, Housing ACT

Discussions included:

Theme: Housing for connection and community

Hosted by:
Sally Richards, parent and advocate
Eric Thauvette, Hartley Lifecare
Neil Skipper, Havelock Housing

Discussions included:

How do we get on the list – get connected to Havelock?

Service providers

Finding & matching tenants can be trickiest part.


Gaps and challenges – themes from the Forum

Throughout the day, it was acknowledged that energy, determination and financial resources it takes to secure a home can be challenging to sustain – even with the support provided by government and community sectors. Throughout the day, there were several challenges that were raised by community members participating in the Forum – including the following:

Difficult system to navigate

Supply and Demand

It is a difficult system to navigate and the options for private housing, support and are difficult to access. Where are those who can navigate the system and support families and people with disability as they research options and choices.
A gap that was identified was the lack of community sector specialist housing support coordinators.

There is a mismatch between the need for SDA and other forms of housing for people with disability and the meagre supply available in the ACT.

Information asymmetry

Permanency of tenure

It has been historically difficult to connect people with disability with developers, financiers, designers and each other.

There is an urgency in needing to address how people with disability in the ACT and their families and carers can access housing that presents permanency of tenure.

Design standards


The need for compulsory national standards for accessible design to support the development and supply of suitable stock.

What are the financing options – for parents, with support, in partnership with a developer?

Follow-up Actions

Over the course of the day, the Office for Disability committed to a number of actions to support continued discussions and the open sharing of information, experience and resources to support people with disabilities, their families and carers to make informed choices in finding a home.

Since the Having a Home forum on 16 November 2018, the ACT Office for Disability has: