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Victoria in Focus by Sarah Fordyce, April 2024

We have stepped up advocacy and consultation as we seek to inform government responses to the NDIS Review.
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Editorial: Zero tolerance must be our response to abuse and unsafe practices

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New Disability and Social Services Act extends disability tenancy protections

A person with disability is seated in front of their support person who is smiling behind them with a caring hand on their arm


What you need to know

  • The Disability and Social Services Regulation Amendment Act 2023 has passed the Victorian Parliament, making amendments to the Disability Act 2006 and the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, among others.
  • The Act extends Supported Disability Accommodation (SDA) tenancy protections to TAC and Workcover clients and Supported Independent Living (SIL) residents.
  • For accommodation providers, the Act streamlines the process for issuing notices of temporary relocation and notices to vacate.
  • NDS supports the intent of this legislation but continues to have concerns about the complexity of the regulatory environment.

The Disability and Social Services Regulation Amendment Act 2023 has been passed by the Parliament of Victoria. The Act extends the higher-level tenancy protections of SDA residents to TAC and Workcover clients and people with disability living in SIL accommodation. The Act also streamlines the process for issuing a notice of temporary relocation and notice to vacate to a resident.  

The new legislation amends several existing Acts. 

  • It strengthens and addresses gaps in the safeguarding provisions of the Disability Act 2006, including restrictive practices and compulsory treatment, residential rights, and information sharing.  
  • It aims to remove unintended regulatory burdens and operational difficulties. 
  • The Act protects the residential rights of people living in Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.  
  • It reduces duplicative requirements for criminal history checks for applications under the Victorian Disability Worker Commission under the Disability Service Safeguards Act 2018.  
  • Finally, it amends the Social Services Regulation Act 2021 to ensure the scheme operates as intended.  

The legislation amends the definition of key terms in the RTA, such as SDA provider, SDA resident and SDA dwelling.   

Under the new Act: 

  • SDA provider means the owner or leaseholder of an SDA dwelling if the premises are let under (or are proposed to be let under) an SDA residency agreement or residential rental agreement to an SDA resident.  
  • SDA resident means a person with a disability who receives (or is eligible to receive) funded daily independent living support and who is residing (or proposes to reside) in an SDA dwelling under an SDA residency agreement or residential rental agreement. 
  • SDA dwelling captures SDA enrolled dwellings (as currently defined) or any other permanent dwelling that provides long-term accommodation and where daily independent living support is provided to one or more residents with a disability funded by a specified entity or program.  

NDS supports the intent of these changes, but we are concerned about use of the terms ‘SDA dwelling’ and ‘SDA resident’ for houses and people not receiving NDIS SDA funding. We think this will cause confusion for residents and providers. Although the Department of Health and Human Services believes this will affect only a handful of properties, we argue that, due to the confusing language, these terms may disadvantage people who think they have NDIS funding when they don’t or think they cannot sign the lease when they can.  

NDS also notes the concern of some SDA providers that higher level tenancy protections across the broader ‘SDA dwelling’ definition may deter some accommodation providers from offering housing to people with very complex needs. They may not want to take on the responsibility to find alternate accommodation if arrangements break down. 

We are also concerned about how these changes will be implemented. NDS will be monitoring the early stages of enactment and reporting to members. NDS welcomes member comments about these legislative changes and their likely effects.  

Contact information

For any enquiries, please contact Paul Bourke, Policy and Project Officer, submit enquiry/feedback, show phone number