Things Like the Recent OOA Debacle Can’t Happen Again if SDA is to have Sufficient Supply

One of the key requirements to attract sufficient supply of SDA to meet the needs of NDIS participants is for investors to be comfortable that it is a stable long term investment. This was highlighted by the agency as being important as recently as the SDA Pricing Review submission questions.

Firstly, let us clearly state that our members generally have a great working relationship with the NDIA. Not only that, we firmly believe that agency staff have what they believe are the best interests of participants at heart. However, agency staff by the nature of their roles simply do not get the first hand real life daily exposure to SDA participants that SDA professionals get. Further, where there are decisions made without basis, and/or that will have a detrimental outcome for participants, then we will go all the way to the highest courts in the land to advocate for them.

What Happened

On 11 November 2022 SDA Assessors were provided with an update that stated that the December 2021 update that had stated Studio Apartments were suitable as an OOA was in fact a typo, it was meant to say Studio apartments were not suitable as an OOA.

Note that our SDA Provider members did not receive the above update.

There was initially some assertions that SDA Assessors could reach out if this change, that was slated to come into effect immediately, and then retrospectively for any that hadn’t had design certification prior to December 2021.

Having a change come into effect with no notice is appalling for confidence, having it be made retrospectively is absurd.

This is exacerbated by the fact that the SDA Assessors don’t have any legislative authority, changes need to occur at the Legislative or SDA Design Guidelines basis, but the NDIA’s position was that this was law. Several of our members experienced this in enrolments occurring before the backflip, and had the NDIA not backflipped, would have had to appeal a decision that had no authority to be made in the first place. Several members have asked the NDIA for what legislative basis would apply here, some on several occasions, but those questions have never been answered in the replies given, primarily we would guess because there simple wasn’t any.

Luckily there was a backflip on 13 December 2022 with no changes coming in to effect until the SDA Design Guidelines. SDA Professionals have asked to be able to make submissions to this.

Decisions Need to Have a Basis

Firstly, the agency must ensure that decisions have a legislative basis. SDA Professionals work within the legislative basis provided, if decisions are made without a basis then the chance that the agency will have to waste precious resources defending appeals against decisions that they have no chance of winnning.

Changes to Design Standards Need Development Industry Type Lead Times

Property development takes time, SDA often takes even longer. Any changes to Apartments or other developments requiring planning approval should have at least an 18 month lead time in order to not require costly changes to applications. Any changes to those not requiring planning approvals should have at least 12 months lead times.

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