Western Australia – Paving The Way

Western Australia is colloquially known as the “wait-a-while” state and was the last state to sign up to the federally delivered National Disability Insurance Scheme, after trialling a WA-delivered version of the NDIS. Although this has meant some people have indeed had to “wait-a- while” longer than other states to join the scheme, it has afforded us the opportunity to learn from the experiences of people in those other states.

Now that West Australians are progressively rolling into the federal scheme, we can share our local knowledge and experience of people self-directing inclusive individualised living arrangements, based on the principles of developing tailored supports and designed around a person’s unique needs.

Western Australia (WA) has historically had the most developed, long-standing arrangements for self-directed supports and services in Australia. Local Area Coordination (LAC) was created in WA in the 1980s and was recognised as highly innovative, effective and a respected programme that benefited the lives of many West Australians with a disability, their families and carers, as well as the broader WA community.

Individualised funding came as part and parcel of the LAC programme and block funding has been the exception rather than the norm for several decades here in WA.

At a Foundation Day speech, Harry Butler, a famous West Australian environmentalist said; “WA is built on independent thinkers — those who don’t think in the box.”  That has certainly been the case with regard to designing and delivering tailored solutions for people with a disability to live in a home of their own, in the community.

While funding for housing and support options has always been rather scarce, when it has been available, individualised living arrangements have been a typical option for Western Australians and a real alternative to “fitting into a vacancy” in a residential service. Most people living in these individualised arrangements will be (or are already) participants in the scheme; however they do not fit neatly into a typical Supported Independent Living (SIL) funded option.

The National Disability Insurance Agency has acknowledged this and has been working alongside people with disabilities and service providers in WA through a co-design process to ensure that these Individualised Living Options (ILO’s) are retained and potentially expanded nationally.  As an interim arrangement, current Individual Living Options across jurisdictions will continue while the ILO project team works towards further policy development.

The NDIS 2019/20 Support Catalogue has recently included three new ILO support items, which is a positive move in the right direction for people planning for the future with Individualised Living options in mind.

What’s an Individual Living Option (ILO)?
An Individual Living Option (ILO)  is specifically designed around the person, their living environment and has a strong focus on the needs and preferences of the individual. Typically, there will be a range of enabling supports built around the person, which include both paid and informal supports – such as family, friends and the community.

The four most common ILO models currently operating in WA are:

1.     Living Alone – where a person chooses to live in their own home, typically through a funded package that has highly flexible, drop-in type support arrangements that are supplemented by informal assistance from say, a good neighbour, family and/or friends and community.

2.     Co-resident – (Home share arrangements) – where the person lives in his or her own home with one or more people who provide an agreed level of support/companionship and who receive either payment or reduced/subsidised rent, depending on the type and intensity of support required.

3.     Host Arrangement – where a person lives in the home of a non-related person or family (Host). The Host provides in-home assistance, emotional support and a family environment for an agreed level of reimbursement set out in a person’s plan. The person with a disability pays a Board and Lodging payment to the host family/person, to cover their own day-to-day living costs.

4.     Living Together – where a person lives in their own home with maybe 1–2 people (with or without disabilities) that they have chosen to live with through existing relationships such as, friends, partners or relatives.
Individual living options are not typically a one-model-fits-all approach and we often see a mix of these models utilised to deliver a support option that works best for the person and their family/supporters. ILO’s are ideal for people who are looking to self-direct their own supports and there a number of contemporary organisations here in WA that have extensive experience of partnering with NDIS participants to design and deliver these arrangements.​

ILO’s can deliver improved outcomes for people with a disability and there is plenty of evidence that they can be delivered at a lower cost compared to traditional models of accommodation and support – which will no doubt please the NDIA Board and Scheme Actuaries who will have their eye on the cost of these arrangements, consistency of supports, natural capacity building and community connection

The introduction of the NDIS is a game-changer and a unique opportunity for eligible Australians to have access to reasonable and necessary funded supports that they require to achieve their stated goals. It is likely that at some stage in a person’s life there may be a trigger point that will lead towards setting a goal to plan to move out of the family home or out of group accommodation or out of homelessness.

More than “just the money”

Developing and designing an Individual Living Option may well be the key to more people having an opportunity to create a place that they can call home; however, it will require much more than simply securing NDIS funding for support as individual living arrangements need more than “just the money.”

My experience has been that intentional planning, a clear vision, strong ideas and articulated goals about what home means for the person, as well as security of tenure, leadership and persistence, are the key elements that underpin a successful individualised living arrangement. Throw in some good old-fashioned West Australian “outside of the box” thinking and doing, then the future is looking bright for more people with a disability to be able to create their own home in the community with support from family, friends and the NDIS.

Innovative Living Housing Forum

Valued Lives peer-to-peer networks are hosting an Innovative Living Housing Forum this week where we will share peoples’ stories about some of the housing and support models in Western Australia.

Our Guest Speakers are:

Marita Walker – Branch Manager, Scheme Innovation, NDIA, who will present on Individual Living Options (ILO); the background and scope of ILO, living and support models available and the application process should people want to think about exploring these models into the future.

Marita is part of a national team responsible for Strategic Advice, Research and Inclusion that is currently focused on enabling the effective implementation of both Self-Management within the NDIS and WA’s Individual Living Options to be effectively transitioned, with the developed approach to be adopted nationally.

Bronia Holyoak – CEO, Valued Lives Foundation, who will present on ‘Preparing for Planning – Exploring Housing and Support Options’ – Bronia will talk about various models of living and support, and discuss what ‘home’ looks like for people seeking NDIS funding to help them to live as independently as possible.

Personal Stories:

Caragh’s Story – A journey to supported independent living, moving from WANDIS to NDIS.
Courtney’s Story – A journey to living independently, securing a mortgage and home through Keystart.
Bryan’s story – Moving out of the family home.
Scott’s story – Building an intentional community
Claire’s story – From a group home to my own home

This is a free event for people with a disability and families funded as an NDIS Participant or is being supported by a family member or friend to transfer or enter the NDIS and who are looking for information on individual living and support options. Everyone is welcome!

For more information about this event click the following link:


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