Life Without Barriers to separate Supported Living and Specialist Disability Accommodation to enable choice for people with disability.
Image: Senior man in his sixties with a disability wearing a tan polo sitting outside.
The separation of Supported Independent Living (SIL) and Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) by Life Without Barriers aims to ensure people with disability genuinely experience the same choices as others in the community.
Life Without Barriers, a leading disability service provider in Australia, has announced a new policy commitment recognising home and living choices are far too limited for people with disability.
Currently, the majority of home and living arrangements for people with disability have not been informed or designed by the very individuals who rely on them. As a result, these arrangements often fail to meet the unique needs, aspirations, and rights of people with disability. Additionally, the same service provider may manage both the specialist disability housing and the independent living supports, limiting the authentic choices available to those under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The founding principle of the NDIS is to ensure genuine choice and control for participants. In line with this principle, Life Without Barriers acknowledges its role as a service provider in actively listening to and responding to reform opportunities that enable people to make choices in how they receive services and from whom.
Life Without Barriers recognises that people with disability have a fundamental right to expect and have a say in their living arrangements and the choice of support providers.
One of the critical issues facing people with disability is the lack of choice when it comes to SIL and SDA services. Many participants live in homes controlled by a disability service provider, and they are required to use disability support from the same organisation. This limitation denies people with disability the same choices available to others in the community.
Life Without Barriers currently operates around 440 independent living services for over 1,200 people across Australia, with approximately 180 of these homes transferred from the New South Wales and Victorian governments. Many of these services are group homes, and many participants are entitled to SDA funding. In some cases, Life Without Barriers provides both independent living supports and specialist disability housing to participants.
As a large provider of supported independent living, especially in group home settings, Life without Barriers believes it must take immediate action to drive change within its own practices. It emphasises the importance of being informed and guided by the very people it serves – people with disabilities – throughout this journey.
To address these issues, Life Without Barriers has committed to separating Independent Living Services from Specialist Disability Housing. This separation aims to enable people with disability to have the same choices as others in the community.
Life Without Barriers has already made significant progress, with around 70% of the homes they operate being fully separated and managed by separate providers. An additional 14% are on track for separation, and the organisation aims to accelerate the process as quickly as possible.
The timeline for the policy implementation involves Life Without Barriers ceasing direct management of homes where people with disability reside, as soon as practicable. During this transition, the rights, needs, and interests of individuals with disability will guide the implementation plan. The organisation will collaborate with individuals and other housing providers to support them in making choices about their new SDA provider while ensuring that exceptional care and support continue to be provided.
The policy's core principles include direct consultation with individuals with lived experience, acknowledging and incorporating their views, choices, and preferences. Throughout the process, the organisation is committed to protecting and promoting the rights of people with disability.
By undertaking these measures and actively involving people with disability in the decision-making process, Life Without Barriers aims to create a more inclusive and empowering environment where people with disability can exercise their right to genuine choice and control.
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