The National Disability Insurance Scheme is set to undergo serious and systemic reform to ensure it continues to meet people’s needs in the long term. Source: SBS News.
NDIS and Government Services Minister Bill Shorten outlined six key areas of reform in an address to the National Press Club yesterday.
More than half a million Australians receive support from the NDIS, which was established almost 10 years ago by the Gillard Labor government.
The scheme is on track to be one of the federal Budget’s biggest expenses, with projections showing it will cost more than $50 billion by 2025/26, overtaking the annual cost of Medicare.
Mr Shorten said reforms would be centred on improving the experience of participants and maximising funds for their benefit.
“The NDIS saved the disability system from collapse … It is the difference between a life and living death for many vulnerable Australians,” he said.
Systemic reforms flagged by Mr Shorten included increasing the National Disability Insurance Agency workforce, addressing spiralling costs, introducing long-term plans, reviewing supported independent living arrangements and targeting criminal syndicates rorting the system.
But the most fundamental reform would be to ensure the NDIS was surrounded by increased community and mainstream support services.
“There needs to be investment in community-based programs – sports, recreation, education – and ensuring these programs are better integrated into the support mix for NDIS participants,” Mr Shorten said.
“Because the NDIS in isolation can’t deliver independence, and because it was never conceived or promised to support every Australian with any disability.”
He said there were no plans to change eligibility for the scheme, which is currently for people under 65.
In October, Mr Shorten ordered a review of the scheme to find ways to rein in spending, starting with fraudulent behaviour. The independent review is expected to provide recommendations on ways to maximise outcomes for participants from every dollar spent.