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Budget NDIS Breakdown

Sara explores what the 2023-24 Federal budget means for the disability sector.

By Sara Gingold

Updated 15 Apr 202411 May 2023
2023 Budget words and images of a cog, paper and pen pointing to words

It’s budget time, baby!

On Tuesday night, Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivered the 2023-24 budget. The night is Australia’s equivalent of the State of the Union, but with more math and much less glamour.

The Treasurer used his speech to pronounce the NDIS ‘here to stay’, but what does the budget actually mean for the Scheme? And what support does it offer people with disability? It’s time to get out your magnifying glasses, because we’re diving into the detail.

Stifling growth

The government is making no secret about the fact that the rising cost of the NDIS is seriously freaking them out. After a National Cabinet meeting on 28th April, they announced a plan to reduce NDIS growth to 8% per year by July 2026, down from the current growth rate of 14%. This announcement naturally concerned many people as it failed to address the small matter of how they would meet the target.

The 2023-24 budget forecasts the NDIS growing by 11.5% between 2023-24 and 2024-25, by 10.7% between 2024-25 and 2025-26, and by 7.7% between 2025-26 and 2026-27.

Table showing:  Actual expense 2022-23- $36.9bn  Forecast 2023-24-  $42.1bn  Forecast 2024-25 $47.0bn  Forecast 2025-26 $52.0bn Forecast 2026-27 $56.1bn

In a post-budget interview with the ABC, the Treasurer was asked directly how NDIS growth would be curtailed. His answer was the political equivalent of a giant shrug live on national television.

Extra money to ‘Get the NDIS back on track’

The budget also included committed $910m over 5 years to improve the NDIS. Details are thin on the ground, but here’s what we do know:

  • $429.m to improve NDIA capabilities and systems to create more consistent and equitable planning and access decisions.
  • $73.4m to support participants to manage their plans, including ‘holding plan managers, support coordinators and providers to account.’ It’s unclear what holding to account will look like, or even what providers are being held to account for. No doubt, plan managers and support coordinators will not love the fact that they’ve been specifically named.
  • $63.8m to take a ‘lifetime approach to ensure plans are more transparent and flexible for life events.’ Please don’t ask me what this means!
  • $56.4m to improve Supported Independent Living (SIL) decisions. This will include introducing a home and living panel, presumably to make decisions on plan budgets.
  • $29.3m to ensure supports provided to participants are evidence-based. There is no information on what they consider evidence-based or how they will ensure an uptake in these services.
  • $24.6m to trial blended payments. This seems to be a pilot of paying providers partly based on the outcomes achieved, not just the time spent delivering the support.
  • $7.6m to pilot a new approach to support remote and First Nations communities.
  • $48.3m to crack down on fraud and non-compliance, including developing the business case for a new IT platform to detect fraud.

Some of these measures could have huge ramifications for people with disability and the sector, which is why it’s disappointing to see announcements that are so light on detail. Government-speak and catchy one liners are all well and good, but the absence of proper information is bound to make people nervous.

Other supports for people with disability

The budget also included a few additional measures to support people with disability, including:

  • $10.2m for the Central Coordination of Disability Policy, to drive whole-of-government action under Australia’s Disability Strategy. To be honest, it would be wonderful to see much more investment in the Disability Strategy- given how vital it is for people not supported by the NDIS.
  • $7.3m to support younger people to move out of residential aged care.
  • $14.1m in leave payments for eligible support workers who have COVID-19.
  • $31.4m to establish the National Disability Data Asset (NDDA) to improve data collection. Good news for all data nerds!
  • $3.2m to the Complaints Resolution and Referral Service and the National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline.
  • $1.1m for consultation and design of the Disability EmploymentCentre of Excellence.

Autism funding

There were a few budget measures targeted specifically at people with autism, including:

  • $22m over four years to deliver two early intervention pilots for infants showing early signs of autism. One of these is probably the Telethon Kids Institute pilot announced in mid-April.
  • $3.7m for consultation and research for the National Autism Strategy.
  • $1.2m to develop a National Roadmap to improve the health and mental health of people with autism.

Supported employment

The budget included $41m to ‘strengthen the supported employment sector’ to provide people with high support needs ‘access to a wider range of employment opportunities.’

160 supported employment organisations will be able to apply for grants to help them upskill supported employees, improve the capacity of their workforce and explore innovative business ideas.

Additionally, the budget committed $11.7m to establish a disability employment advocacy information program for people in supported employment.

Aged Care

One of the biggest announcements to come out of the budget was the 15% pay increase for aged care workers. This is wonderful news and well deserved, but it does create a potential challenge for the disability workforce. For workers weighing up the disability or aged care sectors, aged care just became a whole lot more attractive.

If you want to read more about the budget, the government has a specially dedicated page. You can also find the Social Services Portfolio Statement and factsheets here.

Authors

Sara Gingold

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