NDIS News & Analysis
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$129.8m for ‘immediate steps’ on Review recommendations
On January 30th, Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth and NDIS Minister Bill Shorten, announced $129.8m in funding for ‘immediate steps to take action in response to the historic Review.’
As we’re still waiting on the government’s formal response to the NDIS Review recommendations, this media release offers an early insight into the areas the government is ready to invest in. But, as you will read below, it’s a bit light on details.
Foundational Supports Strategy
The main focus of the media release is the announcement of $11.6m to develop a Foundational Supports Strategy. The media release says the Strategy will be developed and ready to be considered by National Cabinet by the second half of the year. Quite the speedy turn around for government!
The NDIS Review recommended the Commonwealth and states and territories invest in foundational supports to address what its Final Report described as one of the key challenges facing the Scheme - that it is effectively an oasis in the desert. Foundational support would be disability supports available to all people with a disability under 65, regardless of whether they are NDIS participants. This is the only recommendation we know for certain will be accepted, as it was agreed by National Cabinet the day before the Review’s findings were released.
The media release says the development of the Strategy would be led by Minister Rishworth in consultation with Minister Shorten. So, its Department of Social Services’s (DSS) baby. It also promised the Strategy would be informed by a ‘diverse set of perspectives,’ including people with disabilities, family members, carers and researchers, to ensure ‘no one is left behind.’ The Review’s Report recommended that the Strategy be developed with an advisory group consisting of Disability Representative Organisations (DROs) and people with disabilities. When/if we can expect this advisory group to be formed, is not clear at this stage.
The media release doesn’t get into what the Strategy would aim to achieve, but the Review recommended it focus on ‘improving the planning, coordination, implementation, and accountability of foundational supports across jurisdictions.’
It’s the word ‘accountability’ that really piqued my interest!
Where’s the rest of the money going?
The $11.6m for the development of the Foundational Supports Strategy is only a fraction of the money promised in the media release. So, where’s the rest of it going?
The media release says they are also committing to ‘design and consultation across:
$54.7 million for fairer and better ways to access an NDIS Budget;
$49.7 million for improved home and living options;
$10.2 million to repair the market for better ways to access and pay for supports; and
$3.6 million to undertake design and consultation work on a system of best practice early childhood supports.’
Those are definitely words, alright. But they are so broad that nobody could accuse them of saying much. Maybe that’s reasonable for a press release, but as someone who lives for details, I can’t help but take it personally.
Committing funding to these areas might indicate that, along with foundational supports, they are the government’s short term priorities. Or it might not! We don’t really know. My guess is they are keeping things vague to leave their options open while they formulate their response to the Review’s recommendations.
The Minsters’ press release can be found here. And make sure you are subscribed to the DSC newsletter, for more coverage of the NDIS Review and the government’s response.