This week I asked a question in Parliament regarding the long-awaited new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) specialist disability accommodation rule. The rule raised concern in its potential to undermine participant choice and control regarding housing – a fundamental right. Under the new rule, the State Government will have the ability to list some disability housing as ‘in-kind’, and require the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to direct participants to select any available ‘in-kind’ housing option before they choose another provider.
‘In-kind’ housing is likely to be existing stock, much of which will presumably be outdated and no longer appropriate for people with high support needs. I questioned Minister Mikakos if the government is planning to reduce participant choice by listing any of their housing as ‘in-kind’ under the NDIS, and if so, what steps they will take to ensure that all people with disability receive adequate and appropriate housing according to their needs.
The Minister acknowledged the importance of choice in housing as fundamental to a person’s wellbeing and their sense of belonging. She assured me that while the NDIA have planned management rules that have been agreed nationally that require them to utilise ‘in-kind’ arrangements first in participants’ plans, Victoria has an agreement with the NDIA to ensure that this does not impact on choice and control of accommodation. She made it clear that “no participant who would prefer a non-government place will be required to accept or stay in a government place if there is a suitable place available in the non-government sector”.
The disability community has found this response incredibly useful to address their concerns and clarify participant’s level of choice under the new rule. The commitment that Minister Mikakos made to ensuring participant’s choice in their housing decisions will significantly help people who might have otherwise been considerably disadvantaged by this ‘in-kind’ policy.