Queensland’s Reinstatement of Taxi Subsidy Scheme for NDIS Sparks National Discussion
18 July 2017 at 8:39 am
In light of the Queensland government’s announcement that it will reinstate the Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS) for NDIS participants, a national advocacy body for people with physical disabilities is reigniting calls for the scheme to remain in place and be consistent across all jurisdictions.
Responding to concerns that National Disability Insurance Scheme participants living in Queensland were not receiving sufficient support for their transport needs, the Queensland government moved to temporarily reinstate the TSS on Saturday.
In a joint statement the Queensland Minister for Main Roads Mark Bailey and the Minister for Disability Services Coralee O’Rourke announced the government planned to reinstate the TSS for the rest of the NDIS transition period over 2017-18 and 2018-19.
“Instead of handing the money over to the NDIA, the Queensland government has decided, and put to the Commonwealth, that the Department of Transport and Main Roads should continue to administer TSS for NDIS participants, at least for the next two years,” Bailey said.
“This will mean the funds are treated as an in-kind contribution to the NDIS. This will be cost neutral to Queensland, but most importantly it will mean Queenslanders going into the NDIS don’t lose their TSS, and don’t have to worry about getting to their appointments, to visit their families and to get around the community or to their jobs.”
O’Rourke said the Queensland government had raised its concerns that NDIS participants would experience a shortfall in transport provision with the federal government.
“Together with other jurisdictions, we have been making representations to the Commonwealth government since earlier this year, expressing concern that people are not getting sufficient provision for transport in their plans from the NDIA,” O’Rourke said.
“I have written and spoken to Commonwealth Minister for Social Services Christian Porter on a number of occasions. Minister Porter has acknowledged these concerns and a national working group has been established to work this out.
“While work continues at a national level, Queenslanders should not have to wait.”
The potential for NDIS participants to get short changed as they transitioned from the TSS to the NDIS was an issue Spinal Cord Injuries Australia policy and advocacy officer Tony Jones raised in May.
Responding to the Queensland government announcement, Jones told Pro Bono News that while the announcement was welcomed it further illustrated inconsistencies across the nation.
Jones said both Tasmania and South Australia had ruled to remove NDIS participants from the TSS scheme, and Victoria seemed likely to follow.
“We have, however, had a rock solid guarantee by the NSW minister that the TSS would remain irrespective of eligibility of the NDIS,” Jones said.
Jones said Spinal Cords Injuries Australia were of the view that taxi subsidies “should be in place in all jurisdictions always, irrespective of whether you are an NDIS participant.”
“State governments have the responsibility to maintain these programs irrespective of your eligibility. That is part of their universal service obligation,” he said.
Jones said NDIS participants who were no longer eligible for TSS were “at a far greater disadvantage”.
“One thing that needs to be pointed out is that in order to get funding transportation needs to be included in your plan,” Jones said.
“In most cases once you are a participant [under the TSS] there is no limit, you can continue to use the subsidy for each of your taxi fares irrespective of what you are doing, whether it is social, for work or any other reason. Under the NDIS that changes. You are only entitled to transport funding for certain things.”