Disability Sector Welcomes NDIS Funding Commitment
8 May 2018 at 11:17 pm
The disability sector has welcomed the federal government’s commitment to fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and called for attention to now be turned to fixing the scheme’s implementation issues.
Treasurer Scott Morrison announced in his federal budget speech on Tuesday that the NDIS would be fully funded now and into the future.
“Every dollar and every cent committed to delivering the National Disability Insurance Scheme remains in place and always will,” Morrison said.
Disability advocates had earlier expressed concerns after Morrison revealed a proposed 0.5 per cent Medicare levy rise to fully fund the NDIS – one of the signature measures from last year’s federal budget – was now no longer necessary due to an improved fiscal position.
This raised fears that without a Medicare levy there was no ongoing funding certainty for the scheme.
But Tuesday’s budget included ongoing funding for the NDIS in forward estimates, which has pleased disability advocates.
Every Australian Counts campaign director Kirsten Deane said the government had “definitively stated that the NDIS can be funded from existing revenue – not just this year but across the forward estimates”.
Deane told Pro Bono News that the disability community would ensure the government kept to their word.
“People with disability and their families really want certainty around the funding for the NDIS. And so our really strong message is that we’re here this budget, we’re going to be here next budget and the budget after that and the budget after that,” Deane said.
“And we’re going to be eternally vigilant to make sure that this government and any future governments honour their commitment to funding the NDIS and honour their commitment to people with disability and their families.”
“We’re going to be here next budget, the budget after that, the budget after that, and the budget after that. We’re going to be eternally vigilant to make sure that every single government honours it’s commitment to people with disability and their families – and funds the #NDIS. pic.twitter.com/sdL3zZC7Xw
— Every Australian Counts (@EveryAustralian) May 8, 2018
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) also welcomed the funding, and co-CEO Therese Sands agreed they would hold the government to its commitment.
“We hope that this now ends the uncertainty for people with disability, the ongoing political debate and the cuts to social security and services as trade-offs for NDIS funding,” Sands said.
“Looking to the future, the government now needs to hold firm to this commitment. We will continue to keep a close watch to ensure any change in economic performance does not lead to this promise being eroded.
“We will be holding all sides of government to account for the clear statement in the budget papers that the NDIS is fully funded, now and into the future.”
Dr Ken Baker, CEO of National Disability Services, said he was pleased the government had revealed an alternative plan to ensure the NDIS’s funding into the future was beyond doubt.
“In [Tuesday’s] budget the government has been true to its word in finding another way to fund the NDIS. This scheme is too important to hundreds of thousands of Australians not to be fully funded – and it’s clear the government agrees,” Baker said.
“Without a hypothecated funding source for the NDIS in the form of the Medicare levy, we need all sides of politics to have a plan for how the scheme will be funded over the long-term.
“Any future treasurer should be clear that the NDIS is not a political football. It is a source of security for people with disability and their families who have enough uncertainty in their lives. Long-term certainty for the NDIS is imperative.”
The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) welcomed the funding certainty offered in the budget, but CEO Ross Joyce warned that funding should not be based upon “economic booms or busts”.
“Whilst AFDO is buoyed by the treasurer’s comments, people with disability still need certainty past the next financial year that NDIS funding will not be subject to economic booms or busts and will be fully funded ongoing,” Joyce said.
“We will continue to monitor to ensure that funding is fully provided for this essential service and we will also ensure that the National Disability Insurance Agency is given sufficient flexibility to deliver on the promise of the scheme for people with disability.”
— PWD Australia (PWDA) (@PWDAustralia) May 8, 2018
The budget also contained some other NDIS related funding measures.
This includes $92.1 million to ensure continuity of support for those not eligible for the NDIS, $9.9 million for Disability Employment Service (DES) providers to transition to a new reformed DES system and $64.3 million to establish an NDIS Jobs and Market Fund to expand the NDIS workforce and service providers.
The government said the disability workforce would need to more than double from 73,000 full-time equivalent jobs in 2013 to about 162,000 jobs by 2020, when the scheme is expected to be fully rolled out.
Sands lamented however that the budget continued the staffing cap at the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).
“People with disability are frustrated and concerned that money is spent on outsourcing work to for-profit consultants and businesses, instead of resourcing the agency to deliver an NDIS that provides genuine choice and control,” she said.
Sands added that the DES funding did not provide the supports people with disability needed.
“This is only an interim measure over two years, and won’t address concerns that the DES system has largely not succeeded in supporting people with disability to gain and maintain employment,” she said.
“This measure also doesn’t provide the supports people with disability will need to make informed choices about DES providers in the reformed system.
“Often people with disability are locked out of paid work which entrenches structural inequality. We want the government to develop and implement a National Employment Strategy or Jobs Plan for people with disability.”
"People with #disability and their families need to know that #NDIS funding is there for the long-term, not Budget to Budget. We need an assurance that this funding is sustainable.” Ross Joyce @AFDO_CEO https://t.co/nlYeWI3Idw pic.twitter.com/wRNsm0vIw6
— AFDO (@AfdoOffice) May 7, 2018
Disability advocates were in agreement that the government should turn its focus to fixing the NDIS’s implementation issues.
Deane said it was time to get the NDIS “back on track”.
“People with disability and their families who are involved in Every Australian Counts told us very strongly that they want the government and the NDIA to roll up their sleeves and get on with the job of making sure it’s rolled out the way it was intended to,” she said.
“So whilst tonight’s announcement is very welcome we’re also very keen to see action from the government on resolving the issues that are plaguing the NDIS at the moment.”
Baker said the government must improve the quality of NDIS plans and processes and ensure the disability service sector was sustainable and able to invest in growth to meet the need for services.
“The budget’s announcement of $64 million over three years to establish an NDIS Jobs and Market Fund is welcome and will assist the sector,” he said.
“However, disability service organisations will not invest in growth unless they are confident that the fundamentals of the scheme are working well – including that NDIS pricing is right – and that is not the case at present.
“The NDIS is founded on great principles, but translating those principles into practice has proved challenging. Too many people who are in the NDIS find the system confusing, there is too much paperwork, and many not-for-profit disability organisations are struggling to provide NDIS services and remain financially viable.
“None of these problems is unsolvable. The NDIS has the potential to be a world-leading system. The disability sector is ready to work with government to get it right.”
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