The Federal Government will fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) with $43 billion in funding secured over the forward estimates period. In his budget speech, Treasurer Scott Morrison (pictured) said: “Every dollar and every cent committed to delivering the NDIS remains in place and always will.” However, details about where funding is coming from remains unclear.
The government also announced that more than $64 million will go towards workforce development and $92 million to people who may be disadvantaged by transition to the NDIS as funding programs close.
National Disability Services chief executive, Dr Ken Baker said: “The NDIS is too important to hundreds of thousands of Australians not to be fully funded, and it’s clear the government agrees.”
Baker said the disability community was taken aback recently when the Treasurer announced the decision to scrap the proposed increase to the Medicare levy to fully fund the NDIS. “Our message to the government was clear: tell us your alternative plan to ensure the NDIS’s funding into the future is beyond doubt. 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. In the budget the government has been true to its word in finding another way to fund the NDIS.”
Baker said any future Treasurer should be clear that the NDIS is not a political football but 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,” he said.
“The government must now turn its attention to fixing implementation problems with the scheme, including improving the quality of NDIS plans and processes and ensuring the disability service sector is sustainable and able to invest in growth to meet the need for services.”
He added that the $64 million over three years to establish an NDIS Jobs and Market Fund is welcome news and will assist the sector. 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,” he said.
An evaluation of the NDIS released last week found that while many people with disability had benefited from the NDIS, too many Australians with disability feel more disadvantaged. (See following story).
“It is very concerning that some people with disability feel worse off as a result of the NDIS. 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.”
Earlier, Cerebral Palsy Alliance CEO, Rob White, joined other leaders within the disability sector expressing concern that funding for the NDIS remained uncertain, despite government assurances and followed the decision to scrap the proposed Medicare levy that would have contributed to NDIS funding.
“We are urging the government to provide more clarification about how the NDIS will be funded in a way that is sustainable for the long-term,” White said. “It would go a long way towards easing the minds of people with a disability and their families and carers if the government outlined how that will be done.”
White said he will continue to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities to ensure that the NDIS is fully funded and can live up to its original promise. “We need the NDIS to be properly funded so it provides true choice and control for people with disabilities and their families, and allows every person with a disability to live their best possible life.”