MS Queensland helps disability housing crisis that’s threatening safety of Gold Coasters

A SEVERE shortfall in specialist disability accommodation on the Gold Coast means Multiple sclerosis sufferers such as Thea Wren have spent years living in unsafe homes and units.


But the Currumbin Waters cancer survivor finally has something to smile about, next month she’s moving into an accessible apartment in Robina thanks to a partnership with MS Queensland and disability service provider LifeBright.


Gold Coast MS sufferer Thea Wren has struggled to find suitable accommodation on the Gold Coast for years but is soon moving into special accommodation built in partnership with MS Queensland. Picture Glenn Hampson


“MS Queensland have been amazing and helped me get into a two-bedroom place that means I can finally take something out of the oven safely. I’ll also have space in my bathroom and have people onsite 24/7 to take care of my needs at night when my carer is not around,” she said.

The unique partnership aims to help address the 327 shortfalls of specialist disability accommodation in the city, says MS Queensland acting chief executive Zane Ali.


“It’s a big problem in Queensland, but the Gold Coast is a hot spot with hundreds of people with disabilities living in old stock that simply aren’t suitable for their needs,” he said.


“When we started looking at how we could help three years ago, we knew we wouldn’t be able to tackle this ourselves, so we started talking to local developers.”


Currumbin Waters local and MS sufferer Thea Wren is just one of the hundreds of Gold Coasters living in unsuitable accommodation because of a shortfall in specialist disability apartments. Picture Glenn Hampson


In the past 12 months, 30 developers have approached MS Queensland with a view to constructing specialist disability apartments (SDA).


So far units are available in Southport, Robina and Bundall, with East Palm Beach


Apartments now under construction thanks to a partnership with SDA designer Accessible Homes Australia (AHA). All apartments are tailor-made for NDIS participants living with MS, other neurological conditions and high support needs.


Mr Ali said the Palm Beach development was the organisation’s seventh accommodation project aimed at increasing a person’s quality of life, social interaction and freedom of choice.


For Ms Wren, who recently fell and broke her wrist, moving into customised unit compatible with advanced home automation will be life-changing.


MS Queensland’s Zane Ali, founder of Accessible Homes Australia (AHA) Perry Cross with Minister for NDIS Stuart Robert, AHA managing director Tom Ray and McNab managing director Michael McNab.


“After living with MS for 25 years I feel lucky to hopefully move into my forever home, but I know there are so many others out there like me still living in unsafe places.”


MS is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves.

AHA founder and Perry Cross AM, who became a C2 ventilated quadriplegic as a result of a rugby tackling injury over 25 years ago, said finding SDA-approved homes was all but impossible up until recently.


“Instead, we started our own organisation, Accessible Homes Australia to make the process from an NDIS inquiry to residents moving into SDA-approved homes seamless,” he said.


To find out eligibility criteria for SDA apartments on the Gold Coast, call MS Queensland on 1800 941 201 or go to msqld.org.au.

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