Forum focus on accommodating those in need

Clustered apartments, individually designed homes and blocks of units built around disability support services were the focus of a community forum in Morwell on Tuesday.

With the National Disability Insurance Scheme due to rollout on 1 July next year, the Gippsland Carers Association invited carers and members to discuss accommodation options.

Gippsland Carers president Jean Tops said although the NDIS would provide services and funding for personal care support, transport and equipment, it did not fund accommodation.

“Technically it’s meant to be up to the person with the disability to say ‘this is what I’d like to have’ and for the NDIS to then say ‘let’s talk about how we can make it happen’,” Ms Tops said.

“They don’t provide funding for the bricks and mortar, but they do provide funding for all of the support needs that people will require.

“We are talking about what other ways people can achieve a place to live that does not rely upon the NDIS or government to be available to people.”

Ms Tops said the forum’s purpose was aimed at educating the carers community about affordable and realistic options while the waiting lists for social housing remained “mire-long”.

“They were all enthusiastic; there were a lot of questions being asked by the people and they came up after the speech to say how much they appreciated hearing about the model(s),” she said.

Mother and son, Adele and Paul Mahony, travelled from Pakenham to hear about their most suitable accommodation option.

For the past 16 years, 77 year-old Adele has been the full-time carer of her 41 year-old son, who has lived with an intellectual disability since birth.

She said it was a constant battle to find innovative types of accommodation, which could allow her son to live independently.

“Paul is still living at home with me, he will still get the funding through the NDIS that he’s getting now, but it’s the future that’s really important,” Ms Mahony said.

“His needs will change, and hopefully the NDIS will accommodate those changes financially.

“It’s always at the back of your mind, but as you get older, it becomes sort of a desperate situation.”

Ms Mahony said the pair was considering a clustered unit model, while an alternative option would be for Paul to live with her in a retirement village.

The Gippsland Carers Association distributed a questionnaire during the forum, which it will use to identify the preferred option for future accommodation models across Gippsland.

“That’s the big question,” Ms Tops said.

“How can we make any of these accommodation options available in Gippsland?”