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Townsville's First Specialist Disability Accommodation

Ground-breaking SDA project laying foundations for more accessible housing in Townsville and North Queensland

2 May 2019

Lochlan's specialist disability accommodation 

What is hoped to be Townsville’s first approved Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) recognised under the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), which is new housing designed and built for people with high physical support needs, has reached a major construction milestone.

The home being built at Hillside Gardens in Mount Louisa by local community organisation Yumba-Meta Ltd who have chosen us as their builder, has reached frame stage and passed its first SDA inspection.

Today Martin joined Yumba-Meta Ltd CEO Dushy Thangiah and staff, Indigenous Elders, community members and media organisations on site to mark the occasion.

Yumba-Meta Ltd & Martin Locke Homes mark SDA milestone

Yumba-Meta Ltd which provides housing and support services to some of our most vulnerable residents has spear-headed the project, despite there being no guarantee that they will receive a return on their investment.

Under the SDA model, the accommodation is built first, then must pass the SDA inspections to achieve final SDA status. Then a person with high physical support needs, must also achieve ‘SDA Status’ within their NDIS package for the ‘investor’, in this case Yumba-Meta Ltd, to receive any funding for the new home.  

Dushy Thangiah CEO Yumba-Meta Ltd

CEO Dushy Thangiah said she hoped Yumba-Meta Ltd could use its ground-breaking experience to forge a path for others to also take on SDA projects.

“Even though it is a big risk for our small organisation to take on the extra cost of a highly-accessible SDA build, we are always striving to take care of vulnerable people in our community and we knew someone needed to take leadership on this,” she said.

“Our community is truly in need for more SDA homes, with the initial Federal Government model estimating there is a demand for between 250 – 300 properties in Townsville alone and that means there are a lot of people with disability currently living in unsuitable accommodation.

“Despite Townsville being the pilot for the NDIS rollout we are only aware of one client who has had SDA approved under their NDIS plan and this will be Townsville’s first SDA-approved construction if we are successful.

“It has been a time-consuming, costly and complicated process, there has definitely been a lack of information flow and the goal posts have seemed to keep moving.

“We have a home that’s now at frame stage and a person with a need for specialised accommodation, so we’re asking for some consistency and some urgency in the SDA approvals process.”

The home is a duplex, with one side being built especially for Lochlan Kennedy, who suffered a spinal cord injury in 2009 when he was just 14, and after lodging his SDA application in June last year received approval just last week, well after construction had commenced.

“It has definitely been a learning experience, it’s been frustrating and good at the same time and I’m very thankful to Yumba-Meta Ltd for leading the way,” said Lochlan who currently lives in his parents’ adapted garage with his wife.

“This home will change my life completely. It will give me the independence that I want and need, and I’ll feel more like a contributing member of society. I’m not 14 anymore, I’m a grown, married man and my wife and I are excited to make the move to our own home.”

The couple had searched for an existing property that would be suitable but found nothing available on the market that wouldn’t require major, costly renovations.

As a local Townsville Builder who is passionate about improving accessible housing options in North Queensland, Martin Locke said he hoped this project would lay the foundations for many more SDA builds.

“Being able to move freely around your home without fear or barrier, to access the bathroom safely, reach the kitchen sink or move from inside to outside is something we can sometimes take for granted,” Mr Locke said.

“I’m proud to be part of this project which will provide Lochlan with the level of accessibility he needs to live a fulfilled and independent life.

“There is a need in our community for more accessible homes and with every construction like this one, that need is reduced.”

The home is expected to be completed by August.

Local Townsville Media supported the event:

Nine News North Queensland, Win News Townsville and ABC North Queensland as well as Triple M Townsville.

If you would like any further information on Yumba-Meta Ltd or Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) please get in touch and we will do our best to assist.

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