Funding of NDIS now secure
The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) welcomes the Turnbull Government’s commitment in tonight’s budget to fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
“The Government’s announcement tonight gives peace of mind to people with disability that funding for the scheme is secure and it will continue to be rolled out as planned,” said AFDO CEO, Mr Ross Joyce.
“Tonight’s announcement will put an end to the uncertainty that has dogged the NDIS over recent times which has led to great anxiety for people with disability. For those still yet to enter the NDIS, they can go to bed tonight knowing that support is on its way.
“It will also provide assurance for all Australians – if they or someone they love acquires a disability, the NDIS will be there for them.”
AFDO also welcomes the decision by the Turnbull Government to fund the remaining portion of the NDIS through an 0.5% increase to the Medicare levy, rather than cutting support or programs that assist the most disadvantaged Australians.
But while AFDO welcomes tonight’s commitment, it is dismayed by the decision to cut funding to one important part of the scheme.
Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) is a vital part of the NDIS, providing funding to organisations that deliver information, referrals and peer support to people with disability
Importantly, it is also the part of the scheme designed to assist people with disability who are not eligible for an individualised NDIS package of support.
The decision to cut $12 million in 2019/20 from this critical part of the scheme undermines the rest of the NDIS, and may leave some people with disability with less support than before.
According to the Australian government, the budget has been reduced as a result of the WA government’s decision not to participate in the NDIS. This means all ILC activities such as information and peer support will stop at the WA border. The WA government intends to run its own ILC program
“The policy intent of ILC had already far outstripped the budget allocated. Gaps in vital services were likely – even before tonight’s decision,” said AFDO CEO Mr Ross Joyce.
“The news that a further $12 million will be stripped from the ILC budget threatens the viability of this program – which in turn threatens the sustainability of the scheme.
“ILC funding replaces funding previously provided by State governments. Without adequate funding for ILC there will be a loss to vital services.
“If people with disability are not adequately supported through ILC they will be forced to test their eligibility for the scheme. This won’t produce good outcomes for people with disability – and will place further strain on the NDIS.
“Without this funding people with disability will not have the information and support they need to make the most of the opportunities the NDIS represents.
“And if mainstream services do not become better at meeting the needs of people with disability, people will be forced to include specialised services in their NDIS package. This threatens the sustainability of the scheme.
“We call on the governments around Australia to agree to give the National Disability Insurance Agency greater flexibility in how they use their total budget so they can increase the amount invested in the ILC program.”
AFDO also welcomes the commitment of funding to establish an independent NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to ensure the rights of NDIS participants are protected and to oversee the quality of services funded through NDIS packages. AFDO and its members look forward to working with the Commission as it begins its work.
While the commitment to the NDIS is welcome news, AFDO is concerned about a number of welfare reforms flagged in the Treasurer’s speech – particularly any decision to deny support for people with disability who acquire their disability through substance abuse.
“This reform would be extraordinarily punitive and punish those who most need support. We will anxiously be awaiting detail about the intent of the reforms in the coming weeks,” said Mr Joyce.
“We must make sure that any reforms do not further disadvantage already vulnerable Australians, and further stigmatise people with disability.”
Getting people with disability into jobs
The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations welcomes the Turnbull Government’s decision to fund much anticipated reforms to the Disability Employment Services program.
Importantly, these reforms include allowing people with disability to choose the provider they want to work with, and allows them to change providers more easily.
“These reforms give people with disability greater choice and control – which is consistent with other initiatives such as the NDIS,” said AFDO CEO, Mr Ross Joyce.
“Many people with disability want to work. But unemployment rates have remained persistently high, despite many reforms over the years.
“Only one in two people with disability (53%) currently participate in the workforce compared to more than 80 per cent without disability.
“What we need is an effective support system that helps people move into employment – a system that allows people to choose what will work best for them, and rewards those providers who are achieving the best outcomes,” he said.
AFDO is particularly pleased to see the Government will also trial extending employment support to young people with disability who are in the final years of their schooling.
“Research shows that allowing young people with disability the chance to make the transition to employment while they are still finishing their education significantly increases the chances of employment later on,” Mr Joyce said.
For more information please contact Mr Ross Joyce on 0402 842 040
Who is AFDO?
The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) is the peak organisation in the disability sector representing people with disability. AFDO and its member organisations are run by and for people with disability. AFDO is the place for organisations that represent people with disability to work together to achieve common goals.
AFDO’s mission is to champion the rights of people with disability in Australia and support them to participate fully in Australian life.
AFDO’s members include:
- Blind Citizens Australia
- Brain Injury Australia
- Deaf Australia
- Deafblind Australia
- Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia
- Down Syndrome Australia
- Physical Disability Australia
- Disability Advocacy Network Australia
- Disability Justice Advocacy
- Disability Resources Centre
- People with Disabilities ACT
- Enhanced Lifestyles
- Deafness Forum of Australia
- People with Disabilities WA