WA NDIS Model Finalised
2 February 2017 at 11:16 am
Negotiations about a WA National Disability Insurance Scheme model have been finalised as the state enters caretaker mode ahead of the upcoming election.
The Commonwealth and Western Australian governments announced on Wednesday they had signed a bilateral agreement giving West Australians with disability confirmation they will be able to access support through the NDIS from July 2017.
Minister for Social Services Christian Porter said the bilateral agreement demonstrated both governments were committed to the key NDIS principles of choice and control.
“This agreement confirms that West Australians with severe and permanent disability will have access to the reasonable and necessary supports they need and now sees all of the Australian population covered by full bi-lateral agreements,” Porter said.
“There were 11 fixed conditions the Commonwealth required for a state-run NDIS in Western Australia to ensure consistency and integrity of the scheme is upheld across the country and I’m very pleased the agreement reflects all of these conditions.
“WA’s agreement with the Commonwealth provides complete national consistency around key elements such as eligibility and access to supports provided through the NDIS. The agreement also details that funding for the administration and operating costs will be the responsibility of the WA government, and governance responsibilities will be shared.”
Porter confirmed that state legislation would be introduced “as soon as practicable”, mirroring key elements of the NDIS Act 2013.
It follows an announcement made in December 2016 that the Commonwealth and Western Australian governments were negotiating a nationally consistent but state-run NDIS.
Speaking at the time Porter said it remained the Commonwealth’s “strong preference” for WA to join the NDIS on a similar basis to other states and territories but he acknowledged “WA’s firm commitment to a WA-delivered model that builds on WA’s existing disability service system”.
Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett said a locally delivered NDIS was something he had “fought hard for”.
“This is a great day for people with disability in WA,” Barnett said.
“They will be able to access the same level of funding and support as other people participating in the NDIS around Australia, with the advantage of it being delivered through an established service system run by people based here who know West Australian communities.
“People with disability, their families and carers now have certainty about their future, and can rest assured they will receive the vital support they deserve.”
The scheme will be delivered by a new WA NDIS authority and will be governed by a seven-member independent WA board.
The chair of the board will be appointed following consultation between the Commonwealth and WA governments.
The WA minister for disability services will appoint four board members and the three remaining members will be appointed on the recommendation of the Commonwealth minister.
WA Disability Services Minister Donna Faragher said around 39,000 people would be part of the state-run scheme by the end of the transition phase.
“People will enter the scheme between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2020 based on a geographic roll out which is consistent with other parts of the nation,” Faragher said.
“Western Australia has a long tradition of significant investment in disability services – this government strongly believes people with disability deserve quality services no matter where they live.
“We are prepared to invest what it takes to ensure that the NDIS can be rolled out to every eligible person in WA no matter where they live. Importantly, this agreement provides the opportunity for West Australians with disability to continue to shape how the scheme can best meet their needs into the future.”
As part of the bilateral agreement, the Commonwealth will fund about 40 per cent of average package costs for people aged up to 64 and WA will cover the remaining 60 per cent.
All the operational costs of the WA NDIS authority will be met by WA.
It comes just days after Labor claimed the proposed WA NDIS model could cost taxpayers millions and leave people with disability in Western Australia worse off.
In a joint statement, the shadow minister for families and social services Jenny Macklin and shadow minister for disability and carers Carol Brown raised concerns over the cost of the proposed model and called on Porter to “come clean”.
They had also argued that the Barnett government should wait to sign any final agreement until after the 2017 Western Australian election.
Following the latest announcement Macklin said Labor remained “deeply concerned” about the move and that there were questions that Porter must answer.
“Federal Labor remains deeply concerned that people with disability and their families in WA may be left with the worst disability scheme in Australia as a result of this secret deal between the minister for social services, Christian Porter and the Barnett government,” Macklin said.
She raised four “key” questions for Porter:
- How will he guarantee that people with disability in WA will not be disadvantaged by being excluded from the national NDIS?
- How much extra will the WA NDIS model cost, including administrative costs and the burden of risk for cost overruns?
- Why won’t he release the evaluation done into the two NDIS trials in Western Australia?
- Does the WA model require an amendment to the NDIS Act?
She said that people with disability and carers in WA were not consulted about the model.
“Christian Porter has left people with disability, carers and their families in the dark on the future of the NDIS in WA,” she said.
“Mr Porter should have waited until after the Western Australian election in March before signing this agreement.”
However National Disability Services in WA, which represents more than 100 disability service organisations, welcomed the move, hailing it a “milestone agreement”.
NDS WA state manager Julie Waylen said it gave people with disability and the disability services sector certainty about how and when the scheme would be implemented in WA.
She said the “significant shared financial commitment” of $3.4 billion, comprising $2 billion from the WA state government and $1.4 billion from the Commonwealth, demonstrated “a strong commitment to improving the lives of West Australians with disability”.
“It is good to see the agreement mirrors key elements of the national scheme and ensures the same level of funding and support as other people with disability participating in the NDIS across Australia,” Waylen said.
“The WA disability sector has campaigned long and hard for NDIS and we look forward to bringing our expertise and knowledge to help implement this significant reform for WA.
“As this landmark agreement for NDIS in WA takes effect it is critical the disability sector and people with disability, their families and carers continue to have a strong voice in shaping the new WA NDIS authority and legislation to ensure it best meets their needs into the future. ’’