Productivity Commission Recommends National Disability Insurance Scheme
1 March 2011 at 4:00 pm
The Productivity Commission has released its draft report as part of its inquiry into care and support for people with disability, recommending the establishment of a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The draft report – Disability Care and Support – says an ‘entirely new model’ for providing supports and services for people with a disability is needed, identifying the current disability support system as underfunded, unfair, fragmented and inefficient.
The draft report says the current system gives people with a disability little choice and no certainty that they will get the support they need.
The Productivity Commission is proposing two schemes to address these flaws – the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and a smaller scheme to cover people’s lifetime care and support if they acquired a catastrophic injury from an accident.
The report says the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) would be like Medicare in that all Australians would know that they or their families would get long-term care and support if the acquired a significant disability. The report recommends the rollout of the schemes to begin in 2013-14.
Presiding Commissioner for the inquiry, Patricia Scott says that under the proposed schemes, people would not have to wait for suitable wheelchairs or only get two showers a week.
Scott says the Commission’s preliminary estimate is that the additional cost of the big scheme (NDIS) would be around $6 billion per annum.
The report says that reform is necessary and the current system is not sustainable without significant additional resources.
Associate Commissioner John Walsh says there is a ‘death spiral’ in the current system, with ageing carers unable to cope, giving up their adult children to expensive taxpayer-funded care, leading to reduced respite support, and putting more strain on the remaining carers.
Walsh says not providing adequate support now requires increased dollars later.
The report recommends a system in which people with a disability and their carers have a lot more choice – such as deciding what service providers to use and the ability to ‘cash out’ support packages to organise support more flexibly.
The Productivity Commission proposes a new body – the National Disability Insurance Agency – to oversee the NDIS.
Federal and State and Territory Governments would appoint the agencies’ board, but the agency would run the scheme independently.
The Federal Government has welcomed the release of the draft report, with the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin saying the Government understood a major rethink was needed and had tasked the Productivity Commission with undertaking the inquiry into the costs, benefits and feasibility of a national long term care and support scheme for people with disability.
The Government says it will carefully consider the Productivity Commission's final report when it is delivered in July.
The draft report has been applauded by disability support services and the wider Not for Profit sector.
UnitingCare Australia’s National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds says if implemented, the recommendations in the Productivity Commission’s draft report on disability care and support will change lives.
Hatfield Dodds says up until now funding, and therefore care arrangements, have been an inadequately funded, poorly targeted bag of ad hoc arrangements that have focused more on available services than the needs of individuals.
She says the draft report is a very welcome paradigm shift – it calls for current funding to be doubled, it urges a move to a national approach and recommends money be directed where people living with disabilities and their carers say it can be best used.
Hatfield Dobbs says the NDIS will ensure that every Australian with a severe or profound disability can access a range of essential services regardless of how they acquired their disability or where they live.
However she says more work needs to be done to ensure services have the flexibility to genuinely respond to the aspirations and expectations of people living with disability and their families.
Secretary of the Carers Alliance, Mary Lou Carter praised the report, saying that in examining the design, funding, implementation, and administration of a National Disability Insurance Scheme the Productivity Commission has carefully considered thousands of submissions received and hundreds of hours of evidence in public hearings held across Australia over the last 15 months. Its draft recommendations bear this out.
Carers Alliance says the implementation of a National Disability Insurance Scheme is a political and moral challenge to political leaders and would be a lasting legacy of which any government would be proud.
Australian Medical Association President Dr Andrew Pesce says there will be a debate about who and what is covered by a Disability Support Scheme, and the cost and the financing mechanism of a national disability insurance scheme, but the Federal and State Governments must together take action to implement a scheme that will deliver great benefits to people with a disability, their families and carers, and the broader community.
Pesce says this is a vital community reform that must remain above politics, and that the AMA welcomes the Commission’s focus on improving the social and economic participation and independence for people with a serious disability.
He says a national scheme that provides individually tailored support and early intervention, where possible, would increase the productivity and social participation of people with disabilities and boost their independence.
Every Australian Counts National Campaign Director, John Della Bosca says the NDIS will not only better support people with disability, their families and carers it will also deliver substantial financial and social benefits to the community as a whole.
He says productivity and workforce participation are two challenges facing the nation – and by giving people the support they need the NDIS will unlock the potential of the many Australians with disability who are willing and able to work but who are currently locked out of the workplace.
Interested parties and individuals are encouraged to provide feedback on the Commission's draft proposals either by submission or attending its public hearings in April. The final report will be delivered to the Government in July 2011.