A man in a wheelchair does the laundry

Published on Monday 15, November 2021

Jonathon, who uses a wheelchair, had applied to the Victorian Housing Register for housing. He accepted an offer in a community housing apartment specifically aimed at accommodating people living with disability.

After residing in the apartment for some time, Jonathon's occupational therapist recommended the installation of a door magnet to allow him to more easily enter and exit through the heavy fire safe front door, as well as low storage cupboards and a support handle on the wall near his kitchen sink.

Jonathon requested these disability modifications with the help of his housing support worker, and later a lawyer from a community legal centre. The provider refused the request; it insisted that modifications must be paid for by NDIS funding. However, Jonathon does not receive NDIS funding as there is some hope that he may eventually recover from the need to use his wheelchair, meaning the disability does not meet the NDIS' 'permanent disability' requirement.

We requested an internal review of the decision, which was not responded to by the provider, and made a complaint about this matter to the Housing Registrar. The Housing Registrar found that the provider had acted consistently with their policy and met the relevant Performance Standard of 'facilitating access to support for social housing applicants and tenants with complex needs.'

Beyond this internal review, Jonathon has no avenues for appeal.

Had Jonathon been housed from the Victorian Housing Register waitlist into a publicly owned and managed home, he would have had these 'reasonable adjustments' undertaken upon request pursuant to the Department's guidelines. Instead, by accepting the community housing placement, Jonathon forfeited his place on the priority waitlist, meaning he will be unable to secure a public housing property and must now live at a significant disadvantage without modifications, making everyday tasks more difficult.