SDA: What is it? How do you get it?

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Specialist Disability Accommodation

What is it?  Can I have it?  How do I get it?

A few years ago, the government acknowledged the long standing shortage of disability housing for people with complex physical and/or behavioural needs. A new system was devised to encourage commercial developers to take on disability housing projects, while securing a government guaranteed commercial return.

And so Specialist Disability Accommodation was born.

Jonathan 'Jono' Bredin

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) is where Landlords can get payments from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), to provide housing for NDIS participants who meet the eligibility criteria. SDA payments only apply to the physical structure of the building, the bricks and mortar, not the support workers or services.

Check out my last blog in the Housing Hub News to see the process I took.

Do you meet the eligibility criteria?

You’ll need to provide a report showing why you are eligible for SDA payments in order to get it into your NDIS plan.

This report should include what your disability is, your housing history, your housing preferences and goals, what you like to do, and how you like to be supported.

It needs to include a very detailed description of you. It should be broken down into sections covering your needs regarding eating, communication, transfers, continence, and even things like your “going out” activities, medical needs, social connections, financial independence, just about everything to do with the way you live, and the way you want to live.

 The person writing your report needs to review the relevant legislation including;

  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (SDA) Rules 2019 (amended version)
  • NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation Price Guide Review
  • NDIS Act (2016).
The reasons for why you are eligible for SDA payments need to be backed up with the current legislation. It is really important that the specific items within that legislation are quoted, with an explanation as to why the legislation is applicable to you.

Here is an example from my report:

“Review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (SDA) Rules 2019 (amended version) Part 3, Paragraph 3.4, of the amended rules states that, “A participant meets the SDA assessment criteria if either:
a) The participant has an extreme functional impairment and requires an SDA response, or b) The participant has very high support needs most appropriately met by an SDA response.”

Melbourne Quarter Apartments, Docklands

Based on the results of the assessments conducted for the purposes of this report, Jonathan is judged to meet criteria 3.4(a), extreme functional impairment. Jonathon has very high support needs, meeting eligibility for a ‘high physical support needs’ SDA response.”

I got my report for my application to get SDA payments into my NDIS plan done last year. After reading the 35 page document, (yep – 35 pages), I thought the people from the NDIS will know me better than I know myself. There was that much detail in the report!

You can write a lot of the report yourself, mostly the part about your personal story and your housing preferences. At the end of the day you are your own expert, but you will need some of it completed by a qualified professional. I would recommend talking to someone familiar with writing SDA reports. I never would have imagined to write the amount of detail my OT (Occupational Therapist) wrote in my report. I am glad that I got my OT to write mine because I am lucky to have a fantastic OT that wants the best for me.

The final addition to your report needs to include supported evidence by an OT, and even a physiotherapist if applicable to you. The more detail, the better. It is good to give plenty of notice for the writing of this report – four weeks is probably polite.

After you submit your report to the NDIA, request an unscheduled plan review. It’s good to be aware of the ways applications could be held up by the system. If you haven't heard back about the applications outcome within 6 weeks, check and confirm the following 3 steps have been done, as these are the things most commonly stalling the process.

  1. Check if the Support Coordinator has lodged the application, and if they have, ask for a receipt number of lodgement.
  2. Ensure an unscheduled plan review has been requested.  If there is no unscheduled plan review arranged, the decision might be on hold until the next scheduled plan review.
  3. Ask your Support Coordinator to follow up with the Local Area Planner to check if the application has gone to the SDA Centralised Eligibility Panel. You can do this yourself as well. I always do. You know what they say… If you want something done right, do it yourself.

Melbourne Quarter Apartments, Docklands

I can't wait to move into my new place in the city! 

SDA is fantastic for those who are eligible. Living the life and lifestyle of your choice is a dream we all hold. Finally there is a way for people to do it.

For more information on SDA:

Information on accessible housing

Questions about Specialist Disability Accommodation?

Call our SDA Housing Advice line

1300 61 64 63

For people with disability, families, and supporters. Monday – Friday 10.00am – 3.00pm AEDT. You can also email us anytime at

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