I suffered a spinal cord injury at the age of 19 playing rugby union. I’m now a c2 ventilated quadriplegic, which means I can’t move or feel anything below my neck. This means I need to rely on round-the-clock support from carers, who help me do all the day-to-day things.
Ever since my injury, I’ve been in a situation where my housing has been supplied by my family. I lived with my mum and dad for a few years, then I transferred to my sister’s house for a little while, and after that I lived with my brother. Then my brother’s living situation changed and I found there was no market for housing suitable for me, there were not too many options to look at.
Finding care and support has never been an issue for me. Because my needs are so complex, it means having care is a 24/7 necessity. But the huge obstacle has always been finding suitable housing and accommodation. When you travel, you can never find a hotel to stay in, but even the whole housing sector of Australia, when looking for permanent housing, there is nothing. There is no set up for that. That is until the National Disability Insurance Scheme introduced Specialist Disability Accommodation.
It was through my work with the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation where I met Greg Barry, Principal Consultant and Founder at SDA Services. He became my Specialist Support Coordinator through the NDIS and helped me put together my Specialist Support Coordination plan. Once we submitted that to the NDIS, it took two years of toing-and-froing about certain things, because we were only early into the scheme on the Gold Coast. It’s important to have really good people supporting you through that process, and Greg was phenomenal for me. We got to a point where the SDA approved my plan and started to look at the market to see where I wanted to live.
When I started looking there was no SDA available to move into, there was zero. In the northern suburbs of the Gold Coast, there were some group homes and legacy stuff, but in my area there was absolutely nothing. I wanted to be close to family. I wanted to be centrally located to shops, restaurants, bars, and near the beach. My office is in Surfers, so I wanted to be near that, with easy and flat access to things like public transport.
You want SDA to meet your needs with accessibility, fixtures, and finishes in the house, but it’s also a lifestyle thing. Life should be enjoyable, we don’t want to just put people into any house and say ‘there’s your housing outcome’. It’s got to be about improving people’s lifestyles, and supporting their care needs as well.
So I set up Accessible Homes Australia with three great mates with varying skills and experience between them, in property development, building, and real estate. And between us we created Accessible Homes Australia to help solve people’s problems because we could see the bigger picture. We started looking in centrally located suburbs on the Gold Coast (near public transport) and found a place in Broadbeach.
I think it’s important to not underestimate how complex and how difficult it can be to navigate the SDA scheme, and that was why I set up Accessible Homes Australia – to help people solve those issues and streamline the process, which I think we’ve achieved.
Explore Perry’s two bedroom SDA apartment in Broadbeach, or enquire about Accessible Homes Australia’s newest life-changing project at East Palm Beach.