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NDIS Review To Examine Sustainability and Costs

23 January 2017 at 5:37 pm
Ellie Cooper
The federal government has announced that a Productivity Commission review into the National Disability Insurance Scheme will investigate its sustainability and costs.

Ellie Cooper | 23 January 2017 at 5:37 pm


NDIS Review To Examine Sustainability and Costs
23 January 2017 at 5:37 pm

The federal government has announced that a Productivity Commission review into the National Disability Insurance Scheme will investigate its sustainability and costs.

Treasurer Scott Morrison and Social Services Minister Christian Porter said the review would inform the final design of the $22 billion scheme, which is the biggest social policy program since Medicare.

The Productivity Commission will examine the sustainability of scheme costs, cost pressures including wages, and the best ways to manage potential cost overruns.

The review will also look at the capacity of states, territories and the Commonwealth to deliver services, whether the scheme has achieved efficiencies and whether there has been an impact on mainstream services.

“This review is intended to inform the final design of the full scheme, prior to its commencement, by focusing on updating initial cost projections estimated by the Productivity Commission and by providing advice on longer term projections and overall sustainability issues,” Morrison and Porter said in a joint statement.

While the Commonwealth and the states and territories had already agreed to a review of the NDIS in 2017, the terms of reference have been announced amid reports of budget blowouts.

But Australian Federation of Disability Organisations CEO Ross Joyce said the review was positive for the sector.

“I think some people were reacting thinking: ‘Ooh, what’s going on?’ but that was part of the agreement [between] all the states and territories,” Joyce told Pro Bono News.

“Obviously there’s a concern about… sufficient resources being applied to it at the moment, and we wouldn’t like to see that diminished in any shape or form, but a part of that review [is] to look at those things.

“So having a look at that I think is a good thing, as long as it’s looked at in that independent sense to get a feeling for what needs to happen with the scheme moving forward.”

He said he would like to see a number of outcomes from the review.

“I think there’s a need to look at how sufficiently resourced it is,” he said.

“I think it would be nice also to see about the opportunity for stepping up the rollout and also the opportunity to look beyond the targets that were agreed to by the states as to the numbers that would be taken onto the scheme.”

Joyce said he wasn’t overly concerned about the NDIS budget.

“We’re in the middle of… a massive rollout of the nationwide scheme that has tremendous benefits for people with disability and for the wider community as well,” he said.

“And I think there’s probably always been an underestimation of how that would happen and what that would take in terms of dollars, let alone resource of people power to make it happen effectively.

“I think that’s just the nature of any startup, which is what this is, it’s the start up of a new system entirely and you need to be nimble and flexible in your approach to that.”

In particular, he said the National Disability Insurance Agency should have greater power to address issues that arise, including the payment system “crisis” experienced during the federal election caretaker period last year.

“I think the problem we have at the moment is there hasn’t been a greater level of flexibility given in terms of resourcing or the capacity to respond quickly to some of the issues that have arisen,” he said.

“Having said that, overall there’s a tremendous amount of positive results that have been coming out of the scheme as it’s starting to roll out. So we can’t forget that.

“But obviously we don’t want to completely ignore the problems that have happened… I think it’s a question of having a bit more flexibility allowed for the scheme through the NDIA in order to effectively respond to issues as they arise. I think that’s been part of the issue they’ve had.”

The Productivity Commission will consult with the public as part of its review and will report to government by September.

Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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