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.
“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.
"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.”
Source: Australian Federation of Disability Organisations