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NDIS this election

We'll be hitting the booths next week, let's take a look at the disability policies from the major parties.

By Todd Winther

Updated 15 Apr 202411 May 2022
Illustration of three hands holding voting ballots and reaching for the box to vote

For a political nerd like me, the federal election called for May 21 cannot come quickly enough. It is like experiencing a football grand final or championship game. “There ain’t no party like an election party!” is what we say at my house. However, I recognise that most people will not be following the election campaign as excessively as I do.

Therefore, we wanted to use this opportunity to summarise the disability policies of the leading players in parliament: the Liberal–National Coalition Government, the Labor Party Opposition, and The Greens (who have been the most vocal minor party concerning disability policy).

We have already seen a lot of coverage around the issue of the NDIS, but with few exceptions, there has been little coverage of the respective parties’ policies on the scheme. We want to quiet the noise and commentary and give you their platforms in black and white to help inform your vote.

The following does not constitute an endorsement of any party or reflect my opinions or those of Team DSC.

The Labor Party

Labor’s Shadow Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten, announced the Labor Party’s policies that they will take to the next election. These reforms include:

  • Increasing advocacy funding by an extra $10 million
  • A ‘Centre of Excellence’ for employment ‘that will provide a clearinghouse for ideas and increase capacity among employment services’
  • Pausing the Morrison government’s change to Supported Independent Living (SIL). Shorten articulated that the current policy does nothing to reduce vacancy rates and that SIL funding should become more ‘flexible’ (however, the policy document does not describe what this would look like).
  • Reviewing Scheme sustainability with a promise that any changes will be based on statistics from a ‘National Disability Data Asset’ 
  • 'Centralising the delivery of disability supports, including for those who are not eligible for the Scheme 
  • Ensuring that people with disabilities are given priority status during the pandemic and other emergency response policies
  • Developing a ‘National Autism Strategy’
  • An additional 400 Changing Places bathrooms, which are toilets for people with high support needs
  • A promise of an extra 83,000 more workers for the NDIS.
  • An additional 300 staff for the NDIA

The Greens

The Greens’ disability policy platform has been spearheaded by Senator Jordon Steele-John and includes the following:

  • Fully funding the NDIS by increasing taxes for higher income earners and large corporations: they believe that this economic policy will allow the Scheme to be sustainable in the long term.
  • Ensuring access for people with disabilities throughout the community, both in a physical and digital capacity
  • Creating more accessible housing and increasing access to healthcare
  • Creating more decision-making policies and planning opportunities for people with disabilities
  • Increasing funding for disability advocacy by $30 million
  • Allowing people with disabilities aged over 65 to access the scheme
  • Increasing employment for people with disabilities, particularly in the public sector.

The Liberal/National Coalition

At the time of writing, the government disability sector policies have yet to be released. However, the government and Minister Reynolds have announced a series of reforms and promises over the last few months that they can put forward to the voting public. These include:

  • Increasing transparency within the NDIA, particularly in the home and living space
  • Enacting new legislation to improve Scheme bureaucracy, with a focus on enhancing the participants’ experience
  • Additional funding for the Scheme through to 2025
  • Improving access to mid-cost assistive technology
  • Reducing the number of younger people (those under 65) in aged care
  • A new tender process which outlines a new vision for Local Area Coordinators (LACs), including phasing them out of the planning function.

Conclusion

Although all elections are vitally important for the disability sector, the stakes are exceptionally high in this one. Much of the coverage that has dominated the campaign concerning disability services has focused on the Scheme’s sustainability and long-term future. If election campaigns are supposed to act as representations of democracy, it is up to all of us to make sure that we make an informed choice about who represents us. This election is your opportunity to vote according to what you think is important.

Authors

Todd Winther

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