Bill Shorten doubles down on promise to Australians with disability in wake of landmark NDIS review
Australians with disability will not be forced off the National Disability Insurance Scheme without alternative support services in place, Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten has reassured.
The NDIS Minister earlier this week released the long-awaited review into the scheme, which outlined steps to future-proof the $42bn a year project by limiting access to those with the most profound disabilities.
The government has agreed in-principle to all 26 recommendations and 139 detailed actions to limit the quickly rising costs and restore trust and confidence in the scheme.
Among the most significant recommendations was a five-year plan to build up foundational supports and mainstream disability services outside the NDIS for those with less severe disabilities, based on assessments.
Appearing on ABC’s Insiders on Sunday, Mr Shorten said the review had found some people currently on the scheme would be better suited to less intensive interventions.
“We’ve said that as we implement these reforms, concurrently we’re building our supports beyond the NDIS,” he said.
“The secret of this fund, is not really a secret, is that the best way to secure the future of the NDIS and the service it offers participants is to make sure it’s not the only lifeboat in the ocean.”
There are currently about 4.5 million Australians have a disability, and about 600,000 of those are on the NDIS.
Mr Shorten said there is “a bit of a lottery” for the remaining 3.9 million people in terms of what support they get.
“What the review has said is that we need to develop foundational supports,” he said.
“That could be for people who have psychosocial disabilities, that could be access to community health clinics.”
He said above all else, the government’s priority was making sure all children were supported.
Much of Australia’s disability community has welcomed the government’s commitment to enhanced foundational supports, but warned that Australians with disabilities must have access to the right support for them.
People with Disability Australia president Nicole Lee said foundational supports “must be readily available and consistent across the country”.
“There’s a lot of work and investment to come before we see the whole environment working seamlessly for people with disability – a lot needs to happen inside and outside the NDIS to make sure people have access to more support, in more places at all stages of their life,” Ms Lee said on Thursday.
Mr Shorten said the government was dually committed to ensuring the scheme was not a drag on the taxpayer.
The NDIS is one of the most expensive costs in the federal budget.
Before the federal government secured a deal with states and territories at last week’s national cabinet to limit its growth, the scheme was forecast to blow out to almost $100bn by 2032.
Mr Shorten said cracking down on “rorts and shonky providers” would also help keep costs down.
“Everyone has a story on the one hand of how NDIS is changing lives, on the other hand a minority of service providers are overcharging,” he said.
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