The current services and support provided to people with disabilities, their families and carers, is widely considered to be fragmented, inadequate, and inconsistent in the quality of delivery. Services and support provided vary considerably depending on where the person lives; and the nature and type of their disability.
In April 2010, the Productivity Commission conducted a public enquiry into disability care and support at the request of the Federal Government in response to these concerns. The draft report from this enquiry was issued in February 2011, with the final report delivered by the Prime Minister in August 2011. The commission’s report and recommendations were well received, with broad agreement across state and federal politics that Australia’s system of looking after people with disabilities is inadequate with reform urgently required.
On 21 March 2013 The National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill passed through parliament.
The Productivity Commission’s report recommended the establishment of two new insurance schemes:
- A federally-funded National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to support all Australians with significant and permanent disability
- A separate smaller state- and territory-funded and operated National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS) to provide coverage for new cases of severe accidental injury
The introduction of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will provide a major change in the provision of care and support to an estimated 410,000 people across the country who have a permanent disability that significantly affects their communication, mobility, self-care or self-management. 1
Starting from July 2013 the first stage of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will be launched in South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT, the Hunter in NSW and the Barwon region of Victoria.
The NDIS is being launched across the whole of South Australia through a children’s cohort model, for eligible children from 0-14. This is expected to benefit a total of around 4,600 children with disability in South Australia.
In Tasmania, the NDIS will be launched across the state for around 1,000 eligible young people aged 15 to 24. This will provide an opportunity to examine and improve the range of supports that need to be in place for young people with disability to ensure a smooth transition between school and work or higher education.
In the other locations, thousands of people with significant disabilities will benefit from the NDIS:
- 10,000 people in the NSW Hunter local government areas of Newcastle, Maitland and Lake Macquarie
- 5,000 people in the Barwon region of Victoria including the local government areas of the City of Greater Geelong, the Colac-Otway Shire, the Borough of Queenscliffe and the Surf Coast Shire
- 6,000 people in the ACT
Key features of the scheme have been defined and were delivered by Chief Executive of National Disability Services, Dr Ken Barker, and include the following:
- A scheme governed nationally, with consistent eligibility, assessment, quality and safeguards
- Lifelong entitlement to disability services for people who acquire a significant disability under 65
- Access for those already with an existing disability who meet the eligibility criteria as well as those with newly acquired disability
- The provision of ‘reasonable and necessary support’ – including equipment, respite, accommodation, day services, supported employment, therapies, and transport assistance
- Choice and self-determination for people with disabilities and their families, including the option to receive cash through a funding pool (not a budget allocation) based on an actuarial assessment of need
It’s proposed that individualised funding packages will be given directly to those with a disability based on need, giving the individual greater control and autonomy over administering their own care program, which will encourage greater competition amongst service providers, more innovation, improved outcomes and greater quality of service. A good outcome for all!
The proposed National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS) is intended to provide nationally consistent, no-fault lifetime care and support to people newly affected by catastrophic injury from an accident. The scheme would provide cover for catastrophic injuries arising from motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, medical accidents, general accidents and criminal accidents (occurring in the home or community).
The Productivity Commission proposed that the NIIS be a federated model of separate, state based no-fault schemes that would be premium funded.
The Productivity Commission also proposed that the NIIS provide lifetime care and support services broadly equivalent to those provided under the Victorian TAC and NSW Lifetime Care and Support scheme, such as reasonable and necessary attendant care services, medical treatment, rehabilitation services, home and transport modification and aids and appliances.
The Intergovernmental Agreement for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Launch (IGA) signed on 7 December 2012 commits States to endeavour to agree minimum benchmarks to provide no fault lifetime care and support for people who are catastrophically injured in motor vehicle accidents prior to the commencement of the NDIS launch from 1 July 2013.
The IGA also commits all jurisdictions to endeavour to agree minimum benchmarks to provide no fault lifetime care and support for people who are catastrophically injured through workplace accidents, medical accidents, general and criminal accidents (occurring in the home or community) by commencement of the NDIS full scheme from 1 July 2018.
On 2 November 2011, the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, the Hon Bill Shorten MP announced the appointment of the NIIS Advisory Group. The NIIS Advisory Group consists of a range of experts and key stakeholders, including representatives from the insurance, legal, disability and medical sectors, as well as local government and unions. On 25 July 2012, Minister Shorten also convened a group of stakeholders for a Medical Misadventure Roundtable to discuss the issues associated with extending the NIIS to medical misadventure. Following the Roundtable, a Medical Misadventure Advisory Group has been established to progress consideration of these issues.
This group has met regularly to consider the issues associated with the establishment of a NIIS and inform the Government’s thinking on these issues.
With the upcoming election there is also a need to maintain bipartisan support for the proposed scheme and funding framework to ensure the future rollout.
Watch this space for next steps!