Advocates Dispute NDIS Delivery Plan
28 October 2013 at 3:14 pm
Advocates for people with disabilities have hit back at Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey’s suggestion that the National Disability Insurance Scheme could be managed by Medibank Private.
It has been reported that Hockey made the suggestion that the Commission of Audit consider handing the delivery of the scheme to Medibank Private to improve efficiency of service delivery.
In an official statement, Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield said the Commission of Audit would “doubtless look at all areas of government activity to see that taxpayers get maximum value for each of their dollars”.
“The Coalition has said it will deliver the announced NDIS spending, but all Commonwealth departments and agencies should be open to advice on best administrative practice to ensure services are delivered efficiently and well,” Fifield said.
He said as a result of the NDIS roll-out, new service providers were emerging and it “ may well be that Medibank Private chooses to offer services in this market”.
“That is a matter for them,” he said.
Queensland Advocacy Incorporated President Byron Albury said he felt “violated” by the proposal.
“The whole point of the NDIS – what we’ve all been fighting for for so long – is to move away from a dependant medically-based model of disability,” he said.
“We don’t need treatment; we are not ill.
“People may say ‘Does it matter which department/institution/authority administers the scheme, as long as it’s out there?’ but as far as I’m concerned, and many other people with disability are concerned, we’ve had enough of people feeling sorry for us, or treating us like we are sick.
“We’re not sick; and with the right supports the sky is the limit for us.
“Mr Hockey should take a step back and consider that the blueprint for this reform, developed over many years with the imprimatur of the Productivity Commission, will only be undermined by last minute tampering.”
Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association of NSW Senior Policy Advisor Amelia Christie said NDIS being managed by Medibank Private would be a “huge loss for people with disabilities”.
“The Government appears hell-bent on privatising Medibank Private so this suggests that the Abbott Government intends on privatising the NDIS too and shirking its commitment to the Scheme and Australians with disability,” she said.
“People with disabilities and their carers have been waiting for far too long for adequate support services and to be told that the overarching scheme may be placed within a health insurer that’s to be sold off is abhorrent.
“It will no doubt lead to less money for support services for people with disability with public money being siphoned off to shareholders.
“If the Abbott Government is adverse to multiple bureaucratic bodies, why would they not place the responsibility for the NDIS within Medicare rather than with a body that they intent to privatise?
“CPSA calls on the Commission of Audit to rule out the suggestion that the NDIS will ever be run by Medibank Private and calls on the Abbott Government to give assurances to Australians that the NDIS will always remain in public hands.”
Fifield said the Coalition would establish a bipartisan Joint Parliamentary Committee to “oversee the implementation of the NDIS”.
“The Committee should serve as a symbol that the NDIS is above politics and a venture of the Parliament as a whole,” he said.
He also said some administrative functions of the National Disability Insurance Agency that, in “the light of launch site experience”, the NDIA Board may determine could be contracted out through a “competitive process”.
“Businesses and Not for Profits could tender for such business if it was offered,” he said.