Leading up to the Federal Budget announcement, there was an influx of media stories and commentary from politicians about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) support pensions such as JobSeeker, NewStart and Parenting Payments. Hearing and reading this constant stream of media and social media content has been mentally exhausting as an Australian receiving support through the NDIS.
When I’m not reading about how a politician has described the NDIS as a ‘scam’, I have been seeing social media posts from other Australian’s living with a disability feeling the same way I do, made to feel that we are doing the wrong thing by accepting support from a Scheme that was designed to help us.
With the Prime Minister and the Minister for the NDIS constantly saying that the Scheme is unsustainable, personally, I have begun to question how valid my support needs actually are.
Do I really need help cleaning my house?
Do I really Occupational Therapy to build my independence and quality of life?
Rationally, I know that these supports were provided to me as they were deemed reasonable and necessary, but the current discussions have played a major role in questioning my supports.
As an NDIS participant, I am also hearing government officials and other people accessing the NDIS discussing price gauging from service providers, yet, somehow, some politicians are blaming this of the participants of the NDIS, despite participants working to alert the government and the NDIA about price gauging for years.
The Federal Government announced measures within the latest Federal Budget to reign in spending within the NDIS and support the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and participants better.
- $429.5 million to invest in the capacity of the NDIS. This is an investment into the NDIA’s workforce capability and systems to build more consistency and equity with decision making.
- $73.4 million has been included to to assist NDIS participants to better manage their funding within budget, including support from the NDIA throughout the plan duration and holding Plan Managers, Support Coordinators and Service Providers to account.
- $63.8 million has been included to take a lifetime approach to ensure plans are transparent and flexible for life events.
- $56.4 million has been included to strengthen Supported Independent Living decisions, including by introducing a home and living panel with highly trained staff to improve consistency across decisions and upgrading guidelines for planners.
- $29.3 million has been included to support the quality and effectiveness of services provided to participants, through improving oversight of services and increasing take-up of evidence based supports.
- $7.6 million has been included to facilitate pilot approaches to partner with communities to improve access to supports in remote and First Nations communities.
- $24.6 million has been included to support work with participants and service providers to trial blended payment models, to increase incentives for providers to innovate service delivery and increase outcomes.
- $48.3 million has been included to crack down on fraud and non-compliant in the Scheme and to develop a business case for new IT platforms and systems to detect and prevent fraud and non-compliant payments.
- The government has also announced that they aim to reduce to projected cost of the NDIS from 23.8% per year to 8% per year by July 2026.
As an NDIS Participant, I have questions about the government’s budget announcements. I understand that it is beneficial to make these changes to ensure that the NDIS is sustainable for the long term, however, I like many of my constituents have concerns about how the government intends to reduce the projected costs. Will NDIS Plan’s be affected or will the government crackdown on price gauging and fraudulent activity? Was there any consultation with the community about these announcements and does the government intend to work with the community to answer our questions and address our concerns? I would like more in-depth information from the government about how the funding allocated in the budget will work, particularly funding to trial blended payments, what does this mean for NDIS participants who may not be able to afford an out-of-pocket cost for supports?
The NDIS is a lifeline for many people living with severe to profound lifelong disabilities and with limited consultation and communication from the government, it seems reasonable that there is anxiety amongst the community, and it would be ideal for the Prime Minister, Treasure and Minister for the NDIS to meet with community advocates to opening hear and address our concerns.
This is an opinion piece written by Jade Williams, Representative Advocate on SCIA’s Policy and Advocacy team she lives with vision impairment and her assistance dog, Keira.
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