Tenants lead ‘Access to Accommodation’ discussion

5 Dec 2018

As part of International Day of People with Disability celebrations, Access Housing hosted and heard from some of our highly valued tenants who are living with a severe and persistent disability during a panel event on Tuesday 4 December at our head office at Rivervale.

Tenants were invited to participate as panellists during the ‘Access to Accommodation’ event where they discussed and detailed issues they faced in accessing, maintaining and residing in their current home.

Key stakeholders from the Department of Communities, Carers WA and National Disability Services were invited to hear and learn from our tenants and their carers and support workers who were also in attendance.

Tenants shared their individual experiences of what has and hasn’t worked for them and, as a group, developed an outline of what needs to happen to improve housing accessibility and inclusion outcomes for people with severe and persistent disabilities into the future. Key topics identified included the need for real and genuine choice for people with a disability and the importance of strong advocacy to ensure the consumer’s voice was loudest heard.

Some of the themes, initiatives and strategies identified by the panel to help improve housing outcomes for people living with a disability included:

* increased promotion of what housing options and funding are available to individuals, including more readily and easily accessible information about the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) strategy;

* creating awareness of what ‘good’ disability housing looks like. Suggestions included organising ‘open house’ home visits so people with a disability can show others with a disability what works for them in their home and what doesn’t. Other suggestions included providing virtual tours of existing disability accommodation and the use of existing resources like the Independent Living Centre;

* develop a shared understanding amongst all stakeholders about what ‘Purpose Built Accommodation’ means. Tenants on the panel suggested that the expectations of individuals and their support systems about purpose-built housing aren’t always being met eg: ensuring inclusion of adequate parking to accommodate carers’ vehicles and large vans.

* landlords need to be supportive and understanding of general wear and tear caused by care equipment such as wheelchairs and properties need to be designed to minimise this kind of damage.

Tenants also identified the need for regular disability forums, so they can further share their experiences with others to help shape positive outcomes.

Access Housing is excited to facilitate this initiative to raise awareness of what works well, and what needs to change with regard to disability accommodation in WA. If you want to be involved in future forums such as these, please contact Alison Paterson on 9430 9000. Access Housing also encourages you to get involved and have your say on disability and inclusion by contributing to WA’s State Disability Plan. If you have a disability or care for someone who does, you can share your real-life experiences to inform this plan by visiting https://www.communities.wa.gov.au/wa-have-your-say/state-disability-plan/.

This detailed report from the ‘Access to Accommodation’ event will be distributed to participating tenants, carers, support workers and other key stakeholders in the coming weeks. Click here to view it.

International Day of People with Disability is a United Nations sanctioned day that is celebrated internationally each year on 3 December. It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

Access Housing’s ‘Access to Accommodation’ event was supported by a Department of Communities International Day of People with Disability grant.