Update from the CEO

Welcome to the November edition of our newsletter. On 26 November we held the inaugural MOD.A Annual General Meeting at the Mercure Hotel in Sydney. Our new Board definitely has a national perspective with representatives from five different states enabling us to better reflect the diversity of the home modification sector across the country. The range of experience and the breadth of skills our new board brings to the organisation will serve us well and assist with the challenges we face in 2016.

During the month we delivered a webcast about financial products which may be available to people who are having difficulty in paying their client contributions for home modifications. The article on NILS guides members to the resources which can assist people in making decisions about whether to take out a loan or not, and what the potential benefits are in doing so. We also attended the quarterly National Aged Care Alliance meeting in Adelaide and took the opportunity to view the operations of local service providers.

As we approach the end of 2015 it is worth reflecting on how far we have come as a peak organisation. This year was all about establishing relationships, building partnerships, expanding our membership and engaging directly with the reforms in aged care and the NDIS. We have communicated the unique perspective of our sector to those in government developing and implementing policy, and our position on how best to deliver home modifications to older people and people with disability is becoming more widely known and understood. Next year we will consolidate the progress we have made so far. We are well placed to respond to the reforms as they gather momentum, with the move toward CDC in aged care (to commence fully in February 2017) and the increased rollout of the NDIS from July 2016.

We are currently busy confirming the program for our national conference on 28 and 29 April in Canberra - It promises to be an informative and engaging event that presents our particular view to various stakeholders and informs our membership and other service providers.

As this will be our last newsletter for 2015 - the next edition will be distributed at the end of January - I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our members, supporters and those with whom we have engaged with throughout the year. I would also like to thank the dedicated and hard working staff and board of MOD.A. We wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and trust the new year will be a rewarding one for all of us.

Michael Bleasdale CEO
In This Issue


International Day of People with Disability.

Aged Care moves to DoH
Aged Care has a new home.

Smoke Alarm Subsidy
Information on Deaf Society subsidy scheme.

NACA Update
Summary of the National Aged Care Alliance November meeting.

NILS Webinar
Overview of what was discussed.

Accessible & Affordable Housing Forum
Overview of issues and presentations.

Summary of proceedings.

MOD.A in the Media
Article in November Community Care Review.

MOD.A Conference Update
Registrations now open!

Conference and Workshop Calendar
International Day of People with Disability
Thursday 3 December is United Nations International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD). On this day we are encouraged to promote greater awareness and support for the dignity, rights and well-being for people with disability. This year the theme is Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities.

MOD.A strongly supports the celebration of IDPwD and endorses the focus on accessible housing and accessible communities as the foundation of inclusive societies. Having choice about how and where you live plays a pivotal role in quality of life, independence and wellbeing. Having a suitable home is one of the most important steps in being able to live independently without the assistance of carers. A suitable home and supportive environment can be achieved through home modifications that adapt the physical features of a home to support independent living. By widening doorways and passages, installing grab rails or ramps and remodelling kitchens or bathrooms, demands from the physical environment are reduced. This make tasks easier, minimises the likelihood of accidents or falls, protects a person’s mobility and enables functional independence and participation in daily activities . To this end we need to work harder to ensure that all new housing in Australia is built to an accessible standard so that people with disability have more options to live in. Our colleagues at the Australian Network of Universal Housing Design (ANUHD) have been lobbying for regulation in Australia to make sure future homes are built to a universal housing design standard, and their campaign is receiving significant support from major peak bodies across Australia.

MOD.A members are well aware that home modifications done on existing properties can also enhance and complement the work of other ongoing services delivered in the home, such as domestic and personal support. Our colleagues at HMinfo have produced research which demonstrates that home modifications are a positive wellness and reablement intervention that can empower and support a person so that their need for other services may be reduced or unnecessary, saving on the costs of care.

MOD.A would encourage all service providers to take the opportunity of using the IDPwD to promote the benefits of home modifications. You can raise awareness by attending an event in your local area or even host your own. Share your experiences and photos with us for posting on our Facebook page or inclusion in our next newsletter.

The 2015 National Disability Award winners have been announced at a special ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra with 14 winners across seven categories.
Aged Care moves to Department of Health
On 5 November responsibility for aged care moved from the Department of Social Services to the Department of Health. There is no expectation this move will impact current contract arrangements for service providers funded under the CHSP and the policy and reform agenda remains intact. The majority of senior officers and their staff have followed aged care to the Department of Health to ensure continuity.

Much of the information about CHSP and aged care reform will remain on the DSS website until it is migrated early next year and staff within the department will still receive emails at their old addresses for a short period, however, email contact should be updated to reflect the domain name.
Smoke Alarm Subsidy Scheme - The Deaf Society
Smoke alarms can save lives but what if you can’t hear your smoke alarm or it is not working properly?

Some interesting facts which highlight the importance of smoke alarms and ensuring they are working:
  • It can take less than three minutes for a fire to engulf a room.
  • Without a smoke alarm fatality increases by 60 %.
  • Between 2000 and 2014, in 56 % of fire fatality incidents no smoke alarm was present (Fire and Rescue NSW research).
 For those who are deaf or have a severe hearing impairment, a standard smoke alarm is not enough - an alarm that makes visual and vibrating signals is required to protect them. Residents in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia with severe to profound hearing loss are eligible for a specialised alarm with a strobe light and pillow shaker from the subsidised by the Deaf Society. The schemes differ in each state but more information can be found on the links below:
National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) Update

Michael Bleasdale and Ray Dooley represented MOD.A at the final meeting of the National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) meeting for 2015 held on 19 and 20 November. These meetings are important for hearing from government departments about what is happening in aged care reform and for making contributions to and conveying concerns the aged care industry has about the reform process and other issues to do with aged care. The November meeting had over 40 service provider, consumer group, union and health professional bodies represented, and spent a good deal of time discussing key NACA documents which point to the kind of reform in aged care that the sector wants to see. One of these, entitled Enhancing the quality of life of older people through better support and care (otherwise known as The Blueprint), is the key strategic document that outlines what aged care reform should look like. Section 4, Next Steps, sets out the implementation strategy and includes a focus on housing which involves modifications. All aspects of the Blueprint document are relevant, however, for those organisations that wish to deliver home modifications and home maintenance services to older people, and MOD.A will continue to participate through NACA and its various sub-committees and advisory groups in ensuring that adequate scrutiny is given to how the home environment is addressed throughout these reforms. We spent some time on Day 1 working on a range of strategies, tasks and activities that would progress each of the fourteen areas in the Blueprint.

The meeting also heard a report from Rachel Balmanno, First Assistant Secretary of the Aged Care Reform Taskforce, about a roadmap process initiated by the Aged Care Sector Committee (ACSC). The ACSC is not a NACA body but the highest level group which directly advises government about reform and into which NACA is able to provide input. The update that Rachel gave the meeting was largely in relation to the principles on which the implementation of reforms will be based but she also took the opportunity to feed-back to the audience improved performance indicators within the MAC and CHSP. Substantial improvements have been seen in the timeliness of response and the accuracy of referrals.  These improvements are due to increased staffing in call centres and continuing education on service types and processes. The CHSP grant agreements are on track to be all finalised by the end November and there was news that Victoria will join the CHSP in July 2016 (with some indication that WA may also join in the near future) and that Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACAT) will transition to the MAC early in 2016.

There was some light relief at the meeting, when former Minister for Aged Care, the Hon, Mark Butler spoke about ageing in Australia, and provided copies of his book Advanced Australia: The Politics of Ageing for sale. The book is wide-ranging and informative, demonstrating a positive approach to the rapid ageing of the Australian population and what needs to be done to address the challenges of meeting the needs of ageing baby-boomers. All proceeds of sales from the book go to the Hazel Hawke Alzheimer’s Research and Care Fund.
MOD.A CEO Michael Bleasdale with former Minister for Aged Care, the Hon. Mark Butler, after his presentation at the November National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) meeting in Adelaide.
NILS/Step Up Webinar Summary
On 12 November MOD.A hosted a webinar with Good Shepherd Microfinance to introduce No Interest Loans (NILS) and Step Up. Both products could be used to assist with client fees for home modifications.

The loans are a great opportunity for the over 65s who may have limited savings and access to loans to help fund the cost of modifications that can enable them to maintain their independence and protect their safety within their home. The process for how the loans work is summarised below. A recording of the webinar which goes through each of the steps and gives some scenarios of how the loans have been used is available from our YouTube channel here. More information on is available from the NILS website.

If you are a service provider and have experience using NILS or Step Up loans with home modification clients please share your experience with us so that we can start compiling case studies to inform other providers.
Accessible and Affordable Housing Forum

The 2015 Accessible & Affordable Housing Forum, jointly hosted by Right Inclusion Australia (RIA) and the Australian Network on Universal Housing Design (ANUHD), was held at the offices of the NSW Council of Social Service on Thursday 19 November. It was opened by Tanya Davies MP for Mulgoa and Parliamentary Secretary for Youth Affairs and Homelessness. MOD.A was represented by Reena Masrani, our Policy and Projects Officer.

People with disability still have much lower levels of employment as well as a significantly lower weekly wage when employed and this makes affordable housing even more of a challenge for them. The importance of visitability in housing design as well as the need for more inclusive, affordable, accessible and adaptable housing was championed throughout the day. The ANUHD Action Plan was discussed with a majority of stakeholders arguing for regulation for minimum access features in the National Construction Code for all new and extensively modified housing. Key presentations included: Peter Johns on how the ACT Government had tried to incorporate accessibility and affordability within its housing policies; Dr Margaret Ward on access and equity in housing; and Emily Steel on creating inclusive communities. All presentations will be available shortly on the Rights and Inclusion Australia website.
MOD.A Annual General Meeting

MOD.A held its first AGM on Thursday 26 November at the Mercure, Sydney, following the final board meeting for 2015. Anne Reeve, Board Chairperson, spoke briefly on how proud the board were on progress made in the transition from a state-based, government funded representative body to a national peak organisation since incorporation in February this year. She also thanked Shalla Thomas, who stepped down from the board, for her tireless efforts in her role as Treasurer.

The CEO, Michael Bleasdale, then spoke briefly on key achievements and highlights of the last year and the support the organisation had received from its members and other stakeholders.

The 2014-2015 Audited Financial Accounts were accepted and the following appointments to the Board were confirmed:
  • Dr Catherine Bridge
  • Hon. Kelly Vincent
  • Mr David Hallett
  • Dr Janice Herbert
  • Mr Michael Small
Dr Margaret Ward was appointed as a Director and the company Public Officer and auditor were confirmed.
Some of the attendees at the 2015 MOD.A AGM:
Top from left: Steve Lowe (Home Modifications Solutions), Frank Riggio (Wesley Community Services), Dr Janice Herbert (Director), Mr Michael Bleasdale (CEO), Mr Bryan Molan (Director/3 Bridges Community Inc.), Mr David Hallett (Director).
Bottom from left: Mr Michael Small (Director), Ms Shalla Thomas (retiring Treasurer/Coffs Harbour HMMS), Anne Reeve (Chairperson/Scope Home Access). Dr Margaret Ward (Director).
MOD.A in the Media

Our CEO, Michael Bleasdale, has had his comment piece Housing, the missing piece in reform puzzle, published in the November 2015 edition of the Australian Ageing Agenda Community Care Review magazine. The article discusses how the looming problem of whether Australia's housing stock is fit to enable older people with disability to age in place demands new leadership. Members can view it here.
MOD.A National Conference - Registrations open

Registrations and abstract submissions for our national conference are now open! Visit our conference website at for more information. Subscribe to our conference email list to receive regular updates on the program and reminders of closing dates for early-bird registrations and abstract submissions.

The objective of the MOD.A 2016 conference is to provide a forum in which all major stakeholders in home modifications engage with national and international best practice, current innovations and future developments that will have a positive impact upon the provision of home modifications in Australia.

The Conference will feature the latest innovations, products and services to teh home modifications industry, and look at ways that the industry needs to develop to meet the challenges posed by the reforms taking place across Australia in the disability and aged care sectors.

NOTE: Early-bird registrations close 26 February 2016.
Conferences and Workshops


Beyond accommodation: Housing that works for people with disability. Level 15, KPMG, Shelley Street Sydney, 2 December.

Toward Consensus on Assistive Technology (AT) terminology and scope in Australia - open video conference forum hosted by ARATA, Nossel Institute (MU) and NDIS. Check link for local venues, 11 December (9.30am - 11.30am).

Griffith University NDIS Symposium on Housing for people with disability. A place to call home. Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Check link for venues15 February 2016.

NDS Victoria Conference. Shaping the future: preparing for change. Pullman on the Park, Melbourne, 7-8 March 2016.

SCIA Independence Expo 2016. Australian Technology Park , Sydney, 15-16 April 2016.

Home Modifications Australia (MOD.A) National Conference. MODA 2016: Modifying the Home - BUILDING INCLUSION PRACTICE. National Convention Centre, Canberra, 28-29 April 2016.

International Dementia Conference:  Grand Designs: Are we there yet? Sydney, 16- 17 June 2016.


Aging & Society - Fifth Interdisciplinary Conference. Washington D.C., 5-6 November 2015.

International Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity - From Margin to the Centre. Hawaii Convention Centre, 25-26 April 2016.

Disability, Accessibility and Sustainable Urban Development. Third UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), Quito, October 2016.