Specialist Disability Accommodation

What is Specialist Disability Accommodation?

Specialist Disability Accommodation is housing that enables people with very high needs to receive the support they need. SDA will provide funding towards the cost of the physical environment for eligible NDIS participants to live and receive their daily supports.

The NDIS is committed to ensuring SDA provides homes for people with very high needs and not just simply a building where they live. This includes limiting the number of residents per house to a maximum of five in a single dwelling.

SDA homes may range from a purpose built apartment in a mixed development through to a modified free standing house.

It is important to note that SDA is not housing for all people with a disability, it only caters for those that need a specialist housing solution.

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) refers to accommodation for participants who require specialist housing solutions to assist with the delivery of supports that cater for their extreme functional impairment and/or very high support needs. SDA does not refer to the support services, but the homes in which these are delivered. SDA may include special designs for people with very high needs or may have a location or features that make it feasible to provide complex or costly supports for independent living.

Download the Special Disability Accommodation SDA Desktop Review FactsheetSDA refers only to specialist solutions and is not intended to encompass the housing needs of all people with disability. The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA; Agency) will continue to work with other agencies and departments with housing responsibilities to stimulate accessible and affordable housing options for people with disability, including the promotion of universal housing designs and shared-living models.

Some people with very high needs require special accommodation that enables them to receive the supports they need. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) refers to this as Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA). Participants who are assessed as needing SDA as part of their reasonable and necessary supports will receive funding to cover the costs of SDA.

Download the Special Disability Accommodation
SDA Desktop Review Factsheet

Accommodation design categories

The SDA design category will need to be confirmed in writing by an assessment against the relevant Livable Housing Australia design standards that must explicitly reference each of the ‘Minimum Requirements for New Builds’ relevant to that category. For properties owned or operated by a State or Territory Government, a government department with responsibility for disability or housing may, at its discretion, attest to the SDA design category instead.

SDA design category Definition Minimum Requirements for New Builds
Improved Livability Housing that has been designed to improve ‘Livability’ by incorporating a reasonable level of physical access and enhanced provision for people with sensory, intellectual or cognitive impairment
  • Livable Housing Australia ‘Silver’ level
  • One or more ‘improved Livability’ design features such as luminance contrasts, improved wayfinding or lines of sight
Fully Accessible Housing that has been designed to incorporate a high level of physical access provision for people with significant physical impairment
  • Livable Housing Australia ‘Platinum’ level
  • External doors and external outdoor private areas to be accessible by wheelchair
  • Bathroom vanity/hand basin to be accessible in seated or standing position
  • Power supply to doors and windows (blinds), for retrofit of automation as necessary
  • Consideration must be given to whether it is appropriate for the kitchen sink, cooktop, meal preparation bench area and key appliances (dishwasher, oven, microwave oven, laundry appliances) to be accessible in seated or standing position
Robust Housing that has been designed to incorporate a high level of physical access provision and be very resilient, reducing the likelihood of reactive maintenance and reducing the risk to the participant and the community.
  • Livable Housing Australia ‘Silver’ level
  • Resilient but inconspicuous materials that can withstand heavy use and minimises the risk of injury and neighbourhood disturbance including:
  • High impact wall lining, fittings and fixtures (e.g. blinds, door handles)
  • Secure windows, doors and external area.
  • Appropriate sound proofing if residents are likely to cause significant noise disturbances (if required must retrofit in new builds if not previously installed at building stage)
  • Laminated glass
  • Layout with areas of egress and retreat for staff and other residents to avoid harm if required
  • Consideration must be given to providing adequate space and safeguards throughout the property to accommodate the needs of residents with complex behaviours
High Physical Support Housing that has been designed to incorporate a high level of physical access provision for people with significant physical impairment and requiring very high levels of support.
  • All requirements listed in the ‘Fully Accessible’ design category, plus:
  • Structural provision for ceiling hoists
  • Assistive technology ready
  • Heating/cooling and household communication technology (e.g. video or intercom systems) appropriate for the needs of residents
  • Emergency power solutions to cater for a minimum two hour outage where the welfare of participants is at risk
  • 950mm minimum clear opening width doors to all habitable rooms

Building types

Building types will typically conform with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) classifications set out in the far right column in Table 6 below.

Disabled boy in wheelchair opening front door


Table 6: Description of SDA building types

Building type Description Typical Building Code of Australia classification
Apartment Apartments are self-contained units occupying only part of a larger residential real estate building. Class 2
Villa / Duplex / Townhouse Villas, duplexes and townhouses are separate but semi-attached properties within a single land title or strata titled area. The dwelling will be separated from one or more adjoining dwellings by a fire-resisting wall (fire resistance not required for Existing Stock). Class 1(a)(ii), or
Class 3
May also include ancillary dwellings that are located on the same parcel of land as another dwelling (e.g. standalone villas, ‘granny flats’.) Class 1(a)(i)
House Houses are detached low-rise dwellings with garden or courtyard areas. Class 1(a)(i),
Class 1(b)(i), or
Class 3
Group home Group accommodation is distinguished from other forms of accommodation by the larger number of residents (4 or 5). Class 1(b)(i), orClass 3

Additional Information

Further information on Specialist Disability Accommodation visit SDA Consulting Australia

Specialist Disability Accommodation Consulting Logo
Part of the Equal Access Group Pty Ltd

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