Disability Act gazettal continues for Victorian residential services
In 2019, the Victorian Government introduced legislative changes designed to provide tenancy protections to people living in Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA). These changes moved SDA tenancy rules from the Disability Act 2006 to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) under Part 12 A. With the assumption that properties would be ready to successfully transition to the requirements of the RTA, all properties registered under the Disability Act were automatically de-gazetted from the Disability Act and residential statements became void on 1 January 2020.
These changes have been problematic, and resulted in some people with disability being ineligible for either of the two lease options under the RTA.
In response, and as a short-term measure, the Victorian Government sought the re-gazettal of properties under the Disability Act 2006. Re-gazettal enabled providers to continue to operate under the Disability Act rather than moving residency arrangements under the RTA, and residents’ rights continue to be protected under residential agreements.
Re-gazettal of the Department owned properties occurred across the board, unless providers advised DHHS that residents had transitioned to valid SDA agreements. Any non-government owned properties registered under the Disability Act were automatically re-gazetted unless the provider contacted DHHS requesting that they be removed from the list.
DHHS wrote to all providers of existing gazetted services to advise about the re-gazettal and gave them the opportunity to opt-out if their residents had transitioned to valid SDA agreements. The Department also contacted new providers, with many requesting gazettal of their properties.
NDS is continuing to identify and raise the range of issues with the current legislation, and working to get lease arrangements better suited to the range of living situations and needs of residents.
DHHS is working with Consumer Affairs Victoria, and acknowledges that the RTA legislation needs to be amended to address some of its shortcomings in relation to people with disability. The Department is very aware of the other priorities for disability services and families at present and is working hard to address competing priorities.
Disability Act re-gazettal will continue until a time when the RTA is amended and offers adequate protections for people with disability. SDA providers have the option to de-gazette their properties from the Disability Act at any time by contacting DHHS. In order to do so, they must be able to legally enter into or establish one of the two lease type arrangements and uphold the requirements of the RTA.