An ISCRR-supported research project 'RIPL Project One: Post Occupancy Built and Technology Design Evaluation,' was among the recently announced winners of the prestigious Certificate of Research Excellence from the Environmental Design Research Association in the USA - one of five international projects to secure such an accolade, with the awards presented to winners on 10 October 2015.

The award-winning program evaluates new housing which has been developed by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) as part of their Residential Independence Project Pty Ltd (RIPL) project. The broad aim of RIPL is to support people with disabilities to gain maximum independence.

"The issue of future-proofing housing design for people with a disability is a timely one, as the next stage of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) roll out has just been signed off by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, improving the lives of over 100,000 people in Victoria alone," said Libby Callaway - one of the project's lead researchers.

"However, though the NDIS will provide the equipment and support that people with disability require, the Scheme alone cannot address the housing gap or the need for equity in home design for people with disability,"

The first model delivered through the TAC was a collaborative project with the Summer Foundation - an organisation focused on young people in nursing homes. This delivered six smart-technology enabled apartments and a hub of outreach staffing support across a 59-apartment private and social housing development located in inner city Melbourne. A number of people moved from inappropriate housing to this more independent living solution.

The research team evaluated the housing model and smart-technology, producing a detailed interactive report including virtual tours that demonstrate the housing and technology design and tenants' actual experience of use of these environments.

"It's exciting to think of the impact our research can have on the lives of people with disability and beyond. The findings can inform contributions to new housing solutions by government, insurers such as the TAC and National Disability Insurance Agency, architects and designers, health professionals, as well as people with disability themselves and their families.

"Our hope is that this research will support great housing and technology design and ongoing improvements to best practice and access," said Dr Kate Tregloan - Co-researcher and Associate Dean Education from Monash's Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture.

TAC Chief Executive Officer Joe Calafiore said the RIPL project was designed to improve the quality of life for people injured in transport accidents.

"Being dependent on others for your care following a serious injury is often one of the biggest barriers to regaining your quality of life and removing those barriers is what this project is all about," Mr Calafiore said.

Professor Alex Collie, ISCRR's CEO congratulated the researchers saying: "This award is recognition for a sustained and innovative partnership between the research team, the TAC, ISCRR and the disability community. The research provides evidence of an important alternative approach to housing that enables independent living among people with disability. This project is a great example of research having a real world impact. "

Read more about the project.