WA Adopts NDIA Model For NDIS
12 December 2017 at 5:53 pm
Western Australia has abandoned plans for a state run NDIS ending months of speculation about the operation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in the West.
The state and Commonwealth governments have signed a new bilateral agreement that will see WA join the other states and territories and operate under the National Disability Insurance Agency from July next year.
The new agreement which does away with local administration represents a significant cost saving for the state and overturns the last-minute deal signed by the previous government in the lead up to the March state election.
Premier Mark McGowan said while there was a benefit to the state in terms of avoiding future costs, the decision was made in the interests of people with disability.
“Our priority has been ensuring the best outcome for Western Australians with disability, their carers and their families,” McGowan said.
He said the decision provided stability, security and confidence to Western Australians with disability that over their lifetime they would have good support “which is not subject to the whims of state budget but subject to a national agreement and underpinned by the Medicare levy that supports the NDIS”.
NDIA assumes responsibility 1 July, 2018
Phased transition from WANDIS to NDIA between April and Dec 2018
New individual packages but same levels and types of support
Service providers to re-register with NDIA
200 State Local Coordinators to go permanently to NDIA
Up to 40,000 WA participants by 2020
State to retain dedicated Disability Services Minister
The Commonwealth will meet 100 per cent of administration costs and any cost overruns under the new agreement. The estimated savings for the state is $1.3 billion over the next 10 years.
Federal Minister for Social Services Christian Porter said the challenge in WA, like elsewhere, would be to ensure there was breadth and depth in the service provision market to support true choice and control for people with disability.
He said WA providers would also need to register with the NDIA as part of the national quality and safeguarding framework but that the registration process would be “as seamless and low cost as possible.”
WA Disability Services Minister Stephen Dawson said the state government remained committed to people with disability and would retain a minister for disability services and continue as a provider of accommodation services as well as its role in disability access and inclusion planning.
Dawson said some Department of Communities staff would be loaned to the federal scheme during the transition period. About 200 local coordinators will be retained in WA on a permanent basis.
“It’s going to take lots of work over the next few months, over the next couple of years to get this right but certainly no one is losing their job today as a result of this decision,” he said.
“There will be plenty of jobs and I’m working with the minister for workforce training and development, and we will work with industry as well, to make sure we have people capable of taking on the jobs in the disability space moving forward.”
Advocates have welcomed the announcement saying it provided much needed certainty for people with disabilities, their families and carers who have experienced much anxiety waiting for a decision.
People With Disability WA executive director Samantha Jenkinson said WA could now actively engage with policy development at the national level and ensure that the best practice and good work of Western Australia is part of the national scheme.
“We call on the state government to establish a state NDIS transition working group that has strong representation of people with disabilities, families and carers to work through transition issues and mainstream service interface issues,” Jenkinson said.
NDS WA state manager Julie Waylen said the focus must be on smooth transition and building the disability workforce. She said there were significant implementation and transition challenges ahead.
“The NDIS will bring increased demand for services in more locations and disability services must be supported to build a knowledge base, build capacity and capability of providers, strengthen the regions and address potential market failure issues,” Waylen said.
Disclaimer: Alison Blake is a contributing writer for Pro Bono News. She is also the founder of Strategic Support which provides consultancy services to disability and community sector including disability and advocacy organisations.