Alchemy Consulting is an accredited specialist disability accommodation

How Specialist Disability Accommodation will shape the future of design

In this Insight, we explore the positive impact that Specialist Disability Accommodation will have on future design.

As of 2019, it was recorded that more than 4 million disabled Australians receive Commonwealth assistance, social housing, or are homeless.  To put it into perspective, that’s approximately 15% of our entire countries’ population1.

Amazingly, our Australian Government has committed $700m each year for the next 20 years under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The NDIS is designed to support Australians who have a permanent or significant disability.  For many people, incredibly, it will be the first time they receive the disability support they need.

One aspect of NDIS support is the provision and funding of housing suitable for those with disabilities. Known as Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), last year we saw over 12,000 people receiving financial assistance for Specialist Disability Accommodation.  It’s expected that more than double that number will ultimately receive assistance for housing2.

Unfortunately, though, there are still too many Australians, with some form of disability, who are not living in appropriate housing which is safe, assistive or spatially large enough to cater for their disabilities. Steven Bayer from Alchemy Consulting wants to help as many Australians as possible live in the right sort of housing to cater for their needs, or disabilities if that is the case.


Aspects of enhanced housing design

With a focus on developing specialist solutions for varying types and levels of disabilities, the following classifications are part of the SDA Guidelines:

Improving Liveability

Developing housing that will enhance the overall liveability for people with sensory, intellectual or cognitive impairments such as providing spaces that allow ease of circulation or accessibility, safety and physical features. This will allow NDIS Participants to live independently, with value and integration with others where appropriate.  This generally will include spatial allowances or allowing for vision or perception impairments through the use of colour, luminance contrast or surface materials.


Designing housing that is very resilient, or which may have additional ‘breakout’ spaces, to reduce the likelihood of reactive maintenance. This will reduce the risk to the tenant with more obvious behavioural disabilities disabled tenant and/or others who may live in the dwelling or visitors.

Fully Accessible

Developing housing that provides appropriate accessibility for people with significant physical impairments. Incorporating additional width in doorways, spaces and circulation areas, together with enhanced design of kitchens and bathrooms to allow fixtures and fittings to be useable by those in wheelchairs.

High Physical Support

Ensuring that the housing has been designed to support people with significant physical impairment and requiring very high levels of support. This could include the provision of lifting hoists in bedrooms for assistance in access to beds, or the requirement for enhanced spatial heating/cooling or the inclusion of emergency power to avoid unsafe situations in times of power failure.

1. Australian Institute of Health + Welfare: People with disability in Australia: In brief.  2019


Do you need an SDA Assessor for your project?

If you are seeking to provide accommodation that is funded through the NDIS, you will need your housing to be certified by an Accredited SDA Assessor and registered with the NDIS.

Steven Bayer is currently involved in the provision of SDA housing in NSW and Queensland, working with developers in the design of approved accommodation and also NDIS Providers that work with NDIS Participants, who are the occupants of housing and recipients of NDIS funding.

Steven is also a qualified SDA Assessor who can review and certify that housing meets the requirements of the SDA Design Guidelines.   

If you would like to discuss an SDA housing project, or understand more details about this important community housing, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information. Alternatively, take a further look at our Accessibility services via the links below.

The Fine Line Around Development

The fine line around Development

What is the best solution for proposed developments in existing communities? The answer is not black and white, but the result must be a positive change. We explore the fine line around development in this opinion piece.

Prompted by a recent media article regarding a new residential tower overshadowing existing traditional houses, we have considered this matter further – it is an issue that continually raises its head and causes debate.

Two sides of the development coin

There are generally two sides – those supporting the proposed and those in the existing community that feel the proposed development will have a negative impact on the immediate surrounds.

We are the custodians of the land for a comparatively short time. The property has had a long history which will continue into the future. All parties need to respect the site, independent from any proposed development.

There are many issues to be considered. How does the development comply with the objectives and constraints of Council planning regulations? Are there State government compliance requirements? What impacts are there on traffic?

Does it overshadow existing dwellings, at what time of the day does this occur and for how many hours? Will the new development result in other loss of amenity, such as privacy, or will it create noise and glare issues?

Are there Traditional building considerations? Is the site in the Council Traditional building Overlay area? Are houses in the street pre-1946 or pre-1911, which will have an impact on what new development is permissible?

From the pro-development aspect, the cities need to grow and commercial projects need to contribute to their community, whilst having an appropriate return on the risk and investment. The proposed development may result in desirable commercial space or housing, such as Specialist Disability Accommodation or Affordable Housing.

Seek the best solution

All issues need to be considered very carefully. As Architects, we need to be reasonable and provide the best possible solution for our clients. However, this must not be at the absolute detriment to the site, the adjacent properties, the immediate location or the region.

Any development needs to respect the abundant complex factors. There is never a black and white result: there will always be a compromise.

Talk to Alchemy Consulting about your development projects and allow us to demonstrate how we will provide highly professional services incorporating creative and considered solutions.