Insight on Specialist Disability Accommodation: a virtual conference.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Melissa McConaghy about the upcoming virtual conference!

Can you tell us more about Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) eligibility ?

SDA is a highly complex area and eligibility that is based on legislation from the NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation Rules 2016 and decided by National Disability Insurance Agency.  

Our team at Advance Rehab Centre are Australia’s leading team of SDA consultants who explore SDA eligibility and solutions by following a four step process from initial consultation to submission to NDIA or support coordinators.

We added SDA into Advance Rehab Centre (ARC) to complement our existing multidisciplinary services after identifying a gap in the market where no-one was providing a similar offer. Joanne Bennett has a large amount of knowledge and experience on the SDA so we bought her on board in 2018 and have grown the team since.

How have you seen participants’ lives change through SDA? 

From an initial consult when participants realize there are more options and opportunities available to them and they express a sense of hope – lives can change. 

When we consider the various assistive technologies, adaptive equipment and changes to their funding supports that may assist the client to live a little easier, or achieve their goals, we see significant change.  A piece of equipment could mean freedom to access their community independently ! Once people move into a home of their own where they can live with privacy and control and the right level of support- this is the ultimate outcome.  Of course, these massive changes don’t always run smoothly and without hiccups… however reflecting on the change over time is significant.  We have worked with people who can now have their children live with them.  We have seen people move out of nursing home and into apartments of their own where they can cook their own traditional meals and witnessed the changes in their general health and wellbeing. We have seen people be able to achieve the simplest of goals – to be able to sit in the sun on their own veranda.

What is also exciting is that we are working with SDA providers to ensure that individuals goals are being considered at the design phase and homes are being customized to needs.

What role does ARC & SDA have in the future with NDIS and NDIA? 

SDA is here to stay.  Legislation ensures that payments to providers are in place for the next 20 years and beyond.  I see that Specialist Disability accommodation is making accessible homes available in the community to the people that need it the most.  It means that people with really complex needs no longer have to be “placed” in “facilities”. Alternatively, they can be have their own home and  environment that supports them to achieve their goals.

You have brought together a stellar line-up for your virtual conference – who should attend? 

The conference is relevant for NDIS participants, their families, carers, support co-ordinators, essentially anyone who has a complex or high needs disability.

How can everyone get involved? 

The conference is running on the 9th July and is free. There is also a premium upgrade option that allows unlimited access for 30 days for $199. To register visit

Melissa is a Specialist Neurological Physiotherapist and founder of PD Warrior, Advance Rehab Centre and the Curator of the INSIGHT Summit – which brings together the largest group of people with Parkinson’s online globally, for three days each year. She is the past Chair and National Representative of the NSW Neurology Group for the Australian Physiotherapy Association. Melissa speaks around the world on Exercise as Medicine about Parkinson’s and is also the author of “The New Parkinson’s Treatment: Exercise is Medicine”. She has trained over 2000 health professionals in PD Warrior and the PD Warrior program is licensed internationally in eight countries. 

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