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Disability Accommodation Rights Review

Rights in Specialist Disability Accommodation

Victoria is committed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) principles of choice and control.  

The scheme separates support services, known as supported independent living of ‘SIL’, and the provision of the accommodation, known as specialist disability accommodation or ‘SDA’.

Currently, supported accommodation in Victoria is regulated under the Disability Act 2006. All other residential accommodation is regulated through the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.

At the moment, a resident’s support provider is also their landlord. This makes it difficult for residents to change their support provider without having to move house.  This approach is not fit for an NDIS world.

The Victorian Government is making changes to our laws to realise the full potential of the NDIS and enable residents living in specialist disability accommodation to have more choice over who works in their home, what home they live and who they live with.  

We heard from you about what you like and don’t like about current arrangements, and what you wanted to see new happen in the future under the NDIS.

We heard that the current protections and safeguards are working well. We heard that residents living in SDA want the choice to live with their families and friends and have their residential rights protected in the same rule book as the rest of the community. 

In response to this feedback, changes are being made to protect the rights of residents in SDA through the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). This reform will ensure existing protections are continued while improving choice and control for residents by supporting them to access the mainstream tenancy agreements available to the rest of the Victorian community.

Disability Services Safeguards Bill

On 23 August 2018, the Disability Service Safeguards Bill 2018 passed through the Victorian Parliament. This Bill will strengthen Victoria’s safeguards to protect the right for people with a disability to be safe from harm and abuse.

The Bill will implement two specific reforms.

The first component of the Bill is the establishment of an independent, legislated registration and accreditation scheme for the Victorian disability workforce.

The registration and accreditation scheme forms part of the Government’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach to abuse of people with a disability, and aims to:

  • ensure people with disability receive high quality services
  • ensure workers have the necessary skills, experience and qualifications to provide quality services
  • remove people who pose a serious risk of harm from delivering services in Victoria
  • enable people with disability to exercise greater choice and control in their lives.

The second reform, updates and protects the rights of residents living in Specialist Disability Accommodation and ensures Victorian laws are compatible with the NDIS. This has been informed by extensive public consultation.

Subject to the passage of legislation, changes will be made to the RTA. These changes will guarantee the rights of SDA residents funded through the NDIS or the Commonwealth’s Continuity of Support Program, through either a SDA residency agreement or a general tenancy agreement.

SDA residency agreements will offer residents additional safeguards, drawn from current arrangements under the Disability Act, with new protections to reflect how SDA will operate in the NDIS.

As part of these changes, residents will now be able to live with friends, family or a partner as other Victorians do, and have their rights protected through a standard tenancy agreement under the RTA.

Read the Disability Services Safeguards Bill 2018 and follow its progress through Parliament.

Your feedback influenced the new approach

You told us the changes should continue existing safeguards and strengthen protections

Building on the successes of the Disability Act, a number of safeguards will be available to residents who enter into a SDA residency agreement:

  • To support residents make informed choices, providers will be required to explain and provide any information or notices related to the SDA residency agreement in a manner that residents are most likely to understand.
  • The Public Advocate and community visitors will continue to safeguard the interests of residents.   
  • SDA providers will have a number of responsibilities and duties to residents. This includes ensuring residents are treated with dignity and respect.
  • SDA providers will have no more right to enter an SDA resident’s home than a landlord in any other rented property. SDA providers will only be able to enter a resident’s home on certain grounds and will need to notify residents before they enter.
  • Current rent protections will continue. SDA providers will be required to notify residents of any increase 60 days in advance and rent increases will only be able to be increased once every six months. Residents will be able to dispute a proposed rent increase through VCAT, noting that rent for residents living in SDA is capped by the NDIA.
  • SDA residents will continue to be exempt from paying bond.
  • Consistent with options available to the rest of the community, residents and providers will be able to seek assistance from VCAT on disputes regarding rent, repairs and termination. Advocates or family members will also be able to bring disputes to VCAT.
  • Strong safeguards against eviction will continue. Before issuing a notice to vacate, a SDA provider will need to first give an SDA resident an opportunity to remedy a breach or alternatively issue a temporary relocation notice. 
  • Providers will continue to source and fund alternative accommodation and notify the Public Advocate and the CEO of the NDIA when a temporary relocation notice is issued.
  • Notice to vacate periods will also be extended  to 90 days.

You told us improving choice and control is key

Changes are being made to give residents the choice to enter into a standard tenancy agreement under the RTA, if it is right for them. This recognises that people with disability should be able to live with friends, family or a partner as other Victorians do.

Providers will be required to give residents an information statement on the impact of each agreement and how any problems would be addressed. This statement will be developed in consultation with residents and providers.

No resident will be required to move home as a result of these changes. Residents and providers must mutually agree to any new agreement and there are strict requirements for providers to support residents to make an informed choice.

Consumer Affairs Victoria will regulate Specialist Disability Accommodation agreements

Consistent with arrangements for  the rest of the rental sector, the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria will oversee the SDA section of the RTA and uphold the rights of residents.

In circumstances where it may be necessary to prevent harm to a resident or a provider, the Director may refer relevant matters and share information with the NDIA and the National Quality and Safeguarding Commission.

The National Quality and Safeguarding Commission will regulate the registration of SDA providers from mid 2019.

What happens next

The Government has introduced the legislation for consideration by Parliament.

Following the passage through Parliament, the legislation is expected to take effect on 1 July 2019 to ensure residents will have no gaps in their quality and safeguarding in the transition to the NDIS.

Find out more

View the 2017 consultation materials on our Engage Victoria page.

Read question and answers about these changes:

Questions_and_answers_Disability_Services_Safeguards_Bill_2018.docx Questions and answers - Disability Services Safeguards Bill 2018DOC (70.44 KB)

Do you have any more questions or want to request an audio version of this fact sheet? Email us disability.accommodation@dpc.vic.gov.au