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Labor vows to protect NDIS funds into the future

3 May 2019 at 5:25 pm
Luke Michael
Labor says it will create a special fund to ensure any unspent National Disability Insurance Scheme money stays within the scheme.   

Luke Michael | 3 May 2019 at 5:25 pm


Labor vows to protect NDIS funds into the future
3 May 2019 at 5:25 pm

Labor says it will create a special fund to ensure any unspent National Disability Insurance Scheme money stays within the scheme.   

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said a Labor government would establish an NDIS Future Fund that acts as a “locked box” for funds allocated to the NDIS that were not used.

It comes amid criticism from disability advocates around underspending on the NDIS, after this year’s budget revealed NDIS payments were expected to decrease by $1.6 billion in 2019-20.

The government has said this is due to the slower than expected transition of people into the scheme, but Shorten argued this showed the NDIS was being used to boost other budget priorities.

“When money budgeted for the NDIS isn’t going to the NDIS, it’s a cut. And even worse – the Liberals are using the NDIS to prop up their tax handouts to the top end of town,” Shorten said.

“This has meant that the money Labor budgeted for the NDIS isn’t being spent on services for people with disability.

“That’s money that should be spent on services people with disability have been assessed as needing.”

Shorten said Labor’s NDIS reserve fund would guarantee the scheme was always fully funded with no cuts in the future.

Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher recently told Pro Bono News the NDIS would always be fully funded under the Coalition because of the strong economy and the government’s “prudent budget management”.

Disability groups say any excess funds should be used to fix the NDIS’s implementation problems which are preventing people from using the scheme in the first place.

In the wake of Labor’s announcement, National Disability Services (NDS) acting CEO David Moody said service providers needed bipartisan support so that the NDIS delivered the great social reform that was promised.

“The NDIS is transforming the lives of many participants, but too many people with disability still aren’t getting the support they need because of problems with the way the scheme is being implemented,” Moody said.

“We are calling on a future federal government to [fix the scheme] in a collaborative way, working with NDS and our members, people with disability, disability advocacy groups, state and territory governments and the National Disability Insurance Agency.”

Labor this week reiterated its election pledge to remove the NDIA staffing cap, improve the NDIS planning processes and improve services, particularly in regional and remote areas.

The Coalition also released its disability election platform this week, promising to roll out new NDIS participant planning pathways, spend $45 million to develop a national disability information gateway, and expand the NDIS community connectors program to support hard to reach communities.

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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