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Opening the door to your own home – and a life of independence

Gretta sitting in a wheelchair on a sunny balcony overlooking a tree-lined street.

New research has found well-located, specialist housing with appropriate design, technology and support provision makes a positive contribution to the wellbeing, community integration and health of people with complex disability.

Specialist housing also has the potential to reduce the need for younger people to live in aged care. Data recently released by the Australian Health and Welfare Institute shows there are almost 3500 people aged under 65 years who are currently living in aged care settings across the country, and each month another 44 people enter aged care accommodation. 

We recently spoke with Gretta who lives in Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), which she’s been able to access through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). She gave us an insight into her journey into SDA and the positive impact it’s had on her life.

My Plan Manager: Many young people look forward to moving out of home. Was there a particular moment in time when you realised that’s what you wanted?

Gretta: Really, I had always wanted to move out of home, but it started to become a desire of mine when I saw what life was like for my sister when she was at uni, and I knew I wanted to move out – especially as I grew up in a semi remote part of Sydney.

My Plan Manager: Once you received funding for SDA, what was the process like for finding the right house for you in the right location?

Gretta: Unlike many, I actually found the apartment I wanted and then applied for my SDA funding. Personally, this method suited my lifestyle perfectly as the location – Penrith – is close to my friends and family.

My Plan Manager: You embarked on a big journey to get into SDA. Can you tell us what finally getting the keys to your house felt like, and what you did on your first night there?

Gretta: As you would imagine, when I first got my keys, I felt that everything was surreal. This feeling continued until my first night in my apartment when it was mixed with fear, which soon transferred to ease and excitement.

My Plan Manager: You have a Bachelor of Arts, which you finished in 2019. Have you filled your house with lots of art? Or have you done anything else to make it feel like home?

Gretta: One of the first pictures that I hung up was a very special picture that my eldest niece made when she was two years old. It makes me smile whenever I look at it.

My Plan Manager: Are there any skills or lessons you learned prior to moving out that have helped you live independently?

Gretta: I have learned so many lessons since I have been living here but the most important lesson I am continuously learning is my ownership over my own apartment as a 31 year old woman.

My Plan Manager: What is your favourite thing about living where you do?

Gretta: The main thing I absolutely love is being able to get everywhere much easier than I did before.

My Plan Manager: You’ve previously shared that living independently was a childhood dream of yours. What does it mean to you to have that dream realised?

Gretta: A mixture of feeling surreal and being proud of myself that my major dream came true.

My Plan Manager: Is there any advice you’d give to someone looking to move into SDA?

Gretta: My advice is to keep fighting for what you want, as your vision can come true.

More information

If you’d like to learn more about accommodation options for people with disability, you can find helpful information in:

You can also jump on to Kinora – an online community created by My Plan Manager to help people with disability and their supporters to connect with peers, NDIS experts, disability sector professionals and service providers.

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My Plan Manager: NDIS Plan Management