Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme Specialist Disability Accommodation (NDIS SDA) program anticipates new, disability specific, housing stock being built by private investors incentivized by cash payments and rental income. To date, very few new SDA dwellings have been constructed and the majority of the research and analysis of the program’s potential has been in the context of apartment construction in major capital city markets in Australia. This paper uses a hypothetical case study of building SDA accommodation in a discrete regional Indigenous community, Yarrabah, in Queensland. It investigates underlying assumptions within the scheme, particularly around the relationship of land to investment outcomes, as well as cultural considerations. An important aspect is to test how effectively the design guidelines associated with the scheme translate into an appropriate built form that is culturally and environmentally appropriate in locations outside major urban centres. The results suggest that housing actors from the not-for-profit sector may benefit from the SDA at the expense of profit-driven, market-based housing developers, and that the SDA design categories offer limited flexibility for participants with changing care needs, potentially restricting resident continuity in occupancy and ongoing return on investment. The work offers an early assessment on the workability of the SDA in the context of housing investment in a new market for the private housing industry.
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