Liz Ellis thought her dream of securing a suitable house would never happen. As an NDIS participant, she is now living her dream and enjoying all the accessible features her newly built apartment has to offer.
The 33-year-old Fairfield wheelchair user is still in disbelief about living in her own home and having complete control over everything she does.
“It’s been a journey but I’ve finally reached my milestone of living independently,” she said. “I’ve got my own place, my own sense of identity, my own space. It’s just brilliant.
“I never thought it would happen for me but I’ve learnt if you really do strive to work towards something, eventually you’ll get it,” she said.
“To be honest, I thought I was stuck in the accommodation I had, which after I took it, I realised it wasn’t right for me – but I thought if I didn’t take it I wouldn’t get anything else!”
Working in the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) sector, and driven to secure her dream home, Liz said she researched SDA and kept an ear out for any news on new builds.
“I heard there were apartments being built in Ringwood so I went and looked at them. I thought, ‘This is what I want: apartment style living close to everything’. Then I came across a Summer Housing Facebook post about an apartment block it was building.
“I knew I had to really push and dedicate myself to getting it. The expression of interest was easy. I felt the apartment fitted the bill but I was nervous and excited at the same time.
“Through my NDIS plan I had the SDA funding and my SDA classification so I was able to accept the conditional offer on the apartment to secure it.
Liz said recent reforms have significantly improved the SDA pathway for NDIS participant’s with various living needs.
“There are a few SDA classifications, depending on how complex your care needs are,” she said. “Mine is high physical needs but when I started my SDA pathway, I didn’t have my SDA classification in my plan right away.
“Now, with recent NDIS reforms, participants have their SDA classification in place. It means they can pre-register for new builds and secure them, which is great.
“SDA is such a wonderful achievement. It’s been an aspiration of mine for so long I now think, ‘I’ve achieved it. What do I do next?’
Not short of ideas, Liz is talking about going back to study to renew her Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, aspiring to train in Manual Handling.
She is also looking to fulfil one of her passions, working with marginalised and disadvantaged youth with disabilities.
“I’m also excited about going swimming,” Liz said.
“For the first time I’ve actually got a proper hydro program. Having an allied health budget has been great. It’s made such a difference to my body. I’m in less pain because we are keeping everything moving in a way I haven’t been able to do before.
“I feel like my life is a dream,” she added.