The Turnbull Government will guarantee the National Disability Insurance Scheme is fully funded by legislating an additional 0.5 percentage point increase in the Medicare Levy.
This will provide certainty for NDIS participants, their families and their carers that the needs of our most vulnerable people will be met.
Despite a lot of promises, the previous Labor government failed to fully-fund the NDIS, leaving a substantial funding gap of $3.8 billion for when the scheme is fully operational from 2020. And that figure was set to grow every year.
The increase in the Medicare Levy will apply from 1 July 2019 and will raise an extra $3.55 billion in revenue in its first year, rising to $4.25 billion in 2020-21.
The increase means that from 2019-20 one-fifth of revenue raised through the Medicare Levy, will be placed in the NDIS Savings Fund, currently before Parliament, where it will be protected for meeting the needs of people living with disability.
At full scheme, the NDIS will support about 460,000 people at an annual cost of approximately $21 billion, delivering the equipment and support needed to improve lives.
This Budget also provides $33.0 million to ensure NDIS participants and older Australians requiring aged care services can access quality services in their local area. The Local Care Workforce Package will increase the number of local workers available to meet the demand from new entrants into the NDIS, as well as preparing for an influx of care needed because of the nation’s ageing population.
In addition, the Turnbull Government has allocated $209.0 million to establish an independent NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to oversee the quality of NDIS providers and enforce the rights of participants.
Reforms to Disability Employment Services will also be carried out to help more people with disability find and keep jobs.
Together, these measures will guarantee the essential services that Australians rely on, improving the services for people with disability, their families and carers.
Guaranteeing the National Disability Insurance Scheme
To fill the gap in funding for the NDIS, the Government will legislate to increase the Medicare Levy by 0.5 per cent, from 1 July 2019.
The increase in the levy will provide the necessary funding to ensure the NDIS is fully‑funded and sustainable into the future.
The former Labor Government failed to fully-fund the NDIS, leaving a shortfall of $3.8 billion in 2019‑20.
This measure will ensure future funding for the NDIS, with funds placed in the NDIS Savings Fund, when established.
Boosting Local Care Workforce Package
The Turnbull Government will invest $33.0 million over three years to help service providers in the disability and aged care sectors grow their workforce.
This measure will contribute to the successful delivery of the Government’s disability initiatives and aged care services, including the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme
This builds on the Government’s considerable investment to date through the NDIS Sector Development Fund, which has already funded 75 projects totalling more than $105 million.
This package will create more jobs in regions that require strong jobs growth as a result of the NDIS roll out.
As the NDIS rolls out, demand for disability services is growing rapidly. An estimated 60,000 more full time workers will be required by 2019. The disability workforce is expected to more than double as the NDIS is introduced, from around 73,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2013 before the NDIS trials began, to around 162,000 full-time equivalent workers when the scheme is fully implemented in 2019-20. The aged care workforce is also growing, but over a broader time period, from 366,000 in 2016 to 980,000 workers by 2050.
The Local Care Workforce Package will provide timely assistance to meet job shortages in the sector by helping employers increase the supply of care workers in the right geographical areas to meet the needs of NDIS participants and the aged care sector.
The Government is coordinating jobs growth across disability and aged care. Funding will be provided to establish an aged care industry-led Taskforce to develop an Aged Care Workforce Strategy, which will connect with and complement the NDIS Integrated Market, Sector and Workforce Strategy.
NDIS Facts and figures
- Currently, there are over 60,000 NDIS participants. This number will grow rapidly to about 460,000 participants when the scheme is fully implemented from 2020.
- Over the next two financial years, an additional 60,000 full time equivalent workers are expected to be required to deliver the NDIS, creating significant opportunities for job seekers and businesses, and growing the economy.
- The disability workforce is expected to more than double as the NDIS is introduced, from 73,000 full time equivalent jobs in 2013 before the NDIS trials began to 162,000 jobs when the scheme is fully implemented.
- It is estimated that the aged care sector will need to expand its workforce from 366,000 to 980,000 by 2050, to respond to demand from an ageing population.
Independent NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
The Turnbull Government will establish an independent Commonwealth body to oversee the delivery of quality and safe services for all participants of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
$209.0 million is included in the 2017-18 Budget to fund the establishment and operations of the Independent NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission over the next four years.
The Commission will implement the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework which was released by the Council of Australian Governments Disability Reform Council in February 2017. The Framework sets out a national system to support NDIS participants, carers and providers – upholding the standards that participants deserve, and ensuring clarity on the rights and responsibilities of participants, providers and their staff.
The Commission will be established in early 2018, and is expected to commence operations in each State and territory by 1 July, 2020. In New South Wales and South Australia, the scheme will be implemented by July 2018. Remaining states reach full scheme in July 2019, except Western Australia which is expected to reach full scheme in July 2020.
The Commission will support NDIS participants to exercise choice and control, ensure appropriate safeguards are in place, and establish expectations for providers and their staff to deliver quality support.
It will have an education role, helping to strengthen the capability of people with disability, workers, and providers of support under the NDIS.
The Commission will also have preventative and corrective powers, to ensure appropriate responses to issues that arise, as well as identifying opportunities to prevent them in future, either through a regulatory response, or through education and capacity building.
The new Commission will:
- register NDIS providers and oversee provider quality
- respond to complaints and manage reportable incidents such as the abuse or neglect of a participant
- provide leadership to reduce and eliminate restrictive practices, such as the use of physical restraints.
The work of the Commission will reflect the National Standards for Disability Services and the National Standards for Mental Health Services and will provide consistent approaches to support the NDIS.
A national Code of Conduct will be developed outlining the expectations for people delivering NDIS supports and services. The Code will cover anyone doing work under the NDIS, whether they work for an NDIS registered provider, or an unregistered provider delivering services to a self-managing NDIS participant. The Code of Conduct will be overseen by the Commission, which will have the ability to apply penalties for breaches of the Code. Public consultation on the Code of Conduct will begin in the coming weeks.
When the Framework comes into effect, it will replace a complex and fragmented system of disability safeguards for NDIS participants in place in each State and Territory, delivering a nationally consistent quality and safeguarding system for the first time.
It will also bring together the different functions (complaints, reportable incidents, registration) into one cohesive organisation, which will ensure effective regulatory integration.
The NDIS will result in a rapidly expanding market driven by participant choice. Already new service delivery models are emerging and this new environment will need a sophisticated new approach to regulation which is fit-for-purpose.
Under the new national system, governments will design a nationally consistent framework for risk‑based worker screening. State and Territory governments will continue to operate worker screening, but the Commission will work with State and Territory screening units to coordinate and ensure a nationally consistent approach. Providers will require workers who have significant contact with people with disability as part of their role to get a clearance from a State or Territory worker screening unit. In addition to past criminal convictions, the new system will be able to consider non‑conviction information such as spent convictions, quashed convictions, and relevant disciplinary and misconduct information; as well as information taken from complaints and reportable incidents.
All governments are working closely together to ensure the new arrangements are in place ahead of commencement at full scheme. Until the Commission is established and operating, States and Territories maintain their existing responsibility for quality and safeguarding arrangements.
- The Commission will be established in 2018 and is expected to commence its responsibilities as each jurisdiction reaches full scheme – in July 2018 in NSW and SA, July 2019 in VIC, QLD, TAS, the NT and the ACT, and 2020 in WA subject to final negotiations.
- The Commission will oversee safeguards for 460,000 NDIS participants at full scheme, and set standards for NDIS service providers.
- $209 million has been allocated over four years for the establishment and operation of the Commission.
- The Commission will comprise approximately 300 people.
- As an independent statutory body, it will be headed by a Commissioner and will be accountable to Parliament.
Information about the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework visit https://www.dss.gov.au/disability-and-carers/programs-services/for-people-with-disability/ndis-quality-and-safeguarding-framework
Disability Employment Services Reform
The Turnbull Government is committed to improving employment outcomes for people with disability and will introduce improvements to the Disability Employment Services program from 1 July 2018.
Over the next four years, the Government will invest over $3 billion in DES and associated services to help people with disability get jobs with mainstream employers.
This includes over $362 million over the next 10 years to index payments in DES. This will ensure DES providers can continue to deliver the necessary supports required for people with disability looking for work as their own costs increase.
Australians with disability are currently underrepresented in the workforce. More than 14 per cent of working-age people have a disability; however, only 53 per cent of those are either participating in work or seeking work, compared with 83 per cent of people without disability.
Under the new arrangements, DES providers will have to attract job seekers to their organisation, rather than being guaranteed a set level of business with a certain number of people referred to them. If a job seeker changes provider, the funding attached to that individual will move with them.
Provider funding will be more dependent on success in placing people in jobs, with higher levels of funding for placing people with greater barriers to employment, including people who live in more challenging labour markets.
Job seekers will be able to choose their employment provider, and change providers more easily, when they are not satisfied with the support they are receiving.
These changes will reward providers who are successful in attracting jobseekers and working with them and with employers to achieve lasting employment outcomes, increasing the numbers of people with disability achieving the social, emotional, and financial benefits of participation in work.
In addition to the changes that will be made to DES, the Government has also provided for a trial to carefully evaluate whether extending support through DES to a broader range of children with disability in the final years of their schooling can increase the number who successfully transition from school to work, without any adverse effects on their educational attainment. The trial will commence from July 2018, with the voluntary participation of up to 1000 students with disability.
DES reform is a result of extensive consultation involving people with disability, disability employment providers and employers.
With thanks and acknowledgement to the Department of Social Services for the content of this article.