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Budget spends big on NDIS, less for mental health

26 October 2022 at 12:15 am
Danielle Kutchel
The budget delivers on several election promises for people with disability.

Danielle Kutchel | 26 October 2022 at 12:15 am


Budget spends big on NDIS, less for mental health
26 October 2022 at 12:15 am

The budget delivers on several election promises for people with disability.

Labor’s first budget funds a number of initiatives related to the government’s pledge to improve the NDIS, as its cost tops $166 billion.

The budget includes funding for promises announced in recent months, including $126.3 million over four years from 2022–23 to establish a cross-agency Fraud Fusion Taskforce, to bolster fraud detection in the NDIS, and $5.8 million for an Alternative Dispute Resolution Pilot, plus an additional $6.6 million for participants to access advocacy and legal assistance.

There is also $18.1 million over two years from 2022-23 for the promised NDIS review.

TV budget night commentary focused on the cost of the NDIS as the scheme continues to grow; the budget reveals that the total amount spent on the scheme will reach $166.6 billion over four years, an increase of $8.8 billion. According to the budget documents, the increase to Australia’s gross debt can in part be attributed to the rising cost of the NDIS.

The government notes this means growth for participants’ plans.


Funding is also set aside for the recruitment of an additional 380 permanent staff for the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), to the tune of $158.2 million, while funding for the NDIA will increase by $385 million in 2023-24.

“Delivering these important election commitments shows the Albanese Government will not waver on its promise to get the NDIS back on track,” NDIS minister Bill Shorten said.

“Labor’s announcement of a cross-agency Fraud Fusion Taskforce will help defend the scheme from crooks and help deliver our pledge to crack down on NDIS fraudsters.

“We have already worked with states and territories to improve NDIA administrative processes to ensure that people with disability do not languish in hospital unnecessarily.

“Our Alternative Dispute Resolution Pilot will help people with disability to resolve disputes over NDIS decisions, helping to clear the Liberals’ legacy of thousands of appealed NDIS decisions at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

“With people with disability at the helm, the Government is repairing the scheme by lifting the arbitrary cap on staff and ensuring the NDIA has the resources it needs to support participants.”

Elsewhere in disability affairs, the government is expanding the Sport4All program to 80 local government areas, with $10.3 million in funding.

A new National Centre for Excellence in Intellectual Disability Health will be established with $15.9 million in funding over four years and $6.6 million per year ongoing. The centre will act as a hub for expertise, resources and research on the health of people with intellectual disability.

The planned National Autism Strategy will receive $5.3 million in funding out of this year’s budget for initial research and consultation, and to support existing services. 

There’s also money for the Disability Employment Services (DES) program, with $19.4 million announced for a two-year extension of the program.

According to the government, the extension will result in “immediate improvements” to the quality of the DES program, “while the government conducts the detailed reform work to implement a new system”.

This funding was welcomed by Mission Australia’s CEO Sharon Callister.

“As a Disability Employment Services provider, Mission Australia welcomes the two-year extension of the Disability Employment Services program. We look forward to working collaboratively with the Government on the new program design to ensure that it can provide the best possible support for people with disability to find employment, aligned with contemporary economic conditions,” she said.

In a statement, social services minister Amanda Rishworth said the government was “committed to leaving no one behind and holding no one back”.

“We want to improve the lives of all people living with disability. We know for many who are not connected to the NDIS, getting the right support can be crucial to their lives,” she said.

She added that consultation would soon be open on modernising the Disability Services Act 1986, with the voices of people with disability at the heart of the redesign.

Mental health measures

Funding for mental health initiatives in the budget are limited.

Funding of $24.3 million over four years from 2022-23 will be provided to improve access to mental health services. This includes:

  • $23.5 million over 4 years from 2022–23 (and $6.6 million per year ongoing) to expand and strengthen the national network of Headspace services 
  • $0.8 million over 3 years from 2022–23 for MATES in Manufacturing for field officers to run workshops aimed at preventing suicide in the manufacturing sector. The cost of this measure will be largely met from within the existing resourcing of the Department of Health and Aged Care.   

The budget provides for the restoration of 50 per cent loading for telehealth psychiatry services in regional and rural areas.

There is also $13 million for mental health services in flood-affected communities in New South Wales, as well as funding for mental health in the fishing industry, schools and for new parents. 

The sparse funding for mental health did not go unnoticed by the sector.

Executive Director of the Australian Association of Psychologists (AAPi), Tegan Carrison, said the organisation was “dismayed about the lack of investment” following the multiple crises of COVID, natural disasters and increased demand.

“We were told: “by protecting and strengthening Medicare we ensure no one is left behind’.  The fact is mental health care has well and truly been left on the side of the road. We can only assume that the Labor government will be making more announcements soon,” she said.

“We are deeply disappointed that an extension of the additional 10 psychology sessions, due to expire at the end of December, was not announced.

“We are looking forward to a more positive announcement and investment in psychology and allied health at the conclusion of the Better Access Evaluation and Strengthening Medicare Taskforce.

“And we welcome an ‘all of government well-being’ approach that looks at all aspects of government policy and funding and how this impacts health and well-being, however we cannot ignore the millions of Australians who need more affordable and accessible mental health care today.”

Danielle Kutchel  |  @ProBonoNews

Danielle is a journalist specialising in disability and CALD issues, and social justice reporting. Reach her on or on Twitter @D_Kutchel.


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