2022: Talking Disability’s Year in Review

Posted 1 year ago by Alex Jacobs
It has been an action-packed 2022 across the board with disability news and advocates at the forefront of the year’s biggest stories.
It has been an action-packed 2022 across the board with disability news and advocates at the forefront of the year’s biggest stories.

It has been an action-packed 2022 across the board with disability news and advocates at the forefront of the year’s biggest stories.

It has been an action-packed 2022 across the board with disability news and advocates at the forefront of the year’s biggest stories.

There was a Federal Election that brought in a new Labor Government and a whole host of new legislation and action related to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The Royal Commission held 11 public hearings this year as countless witnesses shared their experiences, good or bad, as a person with disability.

We also saw housing accessibility, education and employment better addressed. And yes, COVID-19 has remained a major challenge for most, if not all, people with disability.

Talking Disability has wrapped up the top stories from 2022 for your end of year reading to help keep you informed and in the know ahead of what should be a bumper 2023.


Australia’s movement into the post-COVID phase has not been the smoothest ride, particularly as many vulnerable people feel as though they have been left behind as restrictions eased.

The year started with a rollout of vaccines to children aged 5-11, although some parents faced difficulties booking appointments due to vaccine shortages at their local General Practitioner (GP) clinics.

An expanded winter COVID-19 booster program was welcomed, while antiviral treatments were introduced, but advocates said it was not enough. They wanted to see all people eligible for a fourth dose but that eligibility has not changed six months later.

When Australia passed its 10,000th COVID-19 related death in June it appeared that there was no true plan to protect people with disability. Concerns increased in September as the Government first reduced the isolation period to less than a week before it was removed entirely in October alongside most other mandates. 

Those decisions were labelled as an end to freedom for vulnerable people, sparking a new petition to bring back mandatory isolation. Now we wait to see what next year brings as COVID-19 impacts many more Australians over Christmas.


While the Federal Election itself was a major talking point as Labor blitzed the Liberal Party and Anthony Albanese became Prime Minister, for NDIS participants, the real action happened afterwards.

New NDIS Minister Bill Shorten came out swinging in defence of the Scheme, stating any claims about its unsustainability were a lie – and that was a month before he was officially appointed!

Since then, the action has not stopped. Outgoing National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Martin Hoffman, resigned, and was replaced by Rebecca Falkingham.

But the real highlight was disability advocate and former Paralympian Kurt Fearnley being named NDIA Chair of a new-look NDIA Board featuring the likes of Dr Graeme Innes AM, a lawyer, author and former Chair of Vision Australia and Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

This is the first time that five people on the NDIA Board are people with disability, a historic moment.

Meanwhile, a new independent committee was introduced to review a backlog of administrative appeals tribunal (AAT) cases, before the AAT itself was ditched completely in December to improve NDIS appeals.

Following a police focus on NDIS fraudsters, an independent panel was also created to assess NDIS fraud and inefficiencies

Oh, and during a pretty busy year for Australian of the Year, Dylan Alcott, the disability advocate also managed to hand down his own recommendations to restore trust in the NDIS

Election and budget

2022 was not a year of two halves, but rather a year of two Governments and two budgets.

First, the Liberal Government delivered a ‘lean, mean and disappointing’ budget for people with disability that ignored many funding requests

Cost of living promises fell short while potential disability services assistive technology investments were not made. 

However, a new Government meant a brand new October Budget and the Labor Party delivered a $166.6 billion investment into the NDIS and people with disability

While there are concerns over the rising cost of the NDIS, the major investment into the Scheme is a sign of the Government’s commitment. 

As part of the Budget, money was also invested into reducing the cost of medicine on the PBS, expanding the Disability Employment Services (DES) program and creating 500,000 education places for under-represented groups, including people with disability.

We also recapped the Government’s first 100 days in office – which in itself was an eventful time with a focus on jobs, the NDIS and the launch of the Royal Commission into the Robodebt scheme.

Disability Royal Commission

With a total of 11 public hearings, it was an incredibly busy year for the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

The hearings tackled a range of topics, including the examination of the DES program and the harsh reality that many people with disability are paid below minimum wage

Education departments were grilled on how they support students with disability, people with disability are living in poor housing conditions because they have to spend the majority of their disability pension on rent, while Guardianship powers are regularly removing the rights of people with disability.

Several well-known advocates also spoke to the Royal Commission, such as Carly Findlay, who detailed her experiences of harassment online, and both Chloe Hayden and Dylan Alcott, who talked about their visions for a more inclusive Australia.

Housing accessibility

There was a renewed focus on housing accessibility for people with disability, starting with the Down to 10 Days campaign that aimed to reduce the long wait time for NDIS housing.

Some NDIS participants were waiting up to 18 months for housing approval under the NDIS. 

Hundreds of those waiting are forced to remain in hospital or access aged care, as there is a lack of available or suitable accommodation, meaning the Government was unable to meet 2022 commitments to move younger people out of aged care.

Meanwhile, a new roadmap was launched with the hopes it will influence the Government’s approach to affordable housing after it was revealed that only 51 rentals across all of Australia were affordable to people on Disability Support Pensions.

Unfortunately, the rising cost of living has impacted housing security as we found out that 7,300 people with disability have accessed specialist homelessness services.

Top reader choices

This year, there was not just one topic that captured the attention of our readers, although everyone wanted to learn about the DES providers that lost Government funding over poor performance. In December, we found out that a serious coding error had impacted the DES star ratings and some provider services had been incorrectly affected.

Readers were also keeping a close eye on the education sector, where South Australia introduced a dedicated minister for autism – a historic move for any Australian Government – and introduced a new policy to have an autism inclusion teacher in every primary school.

But those efforts to improve classrooms have not been as widespread – you were not as happy to hear that a parliamentary inquiry into school disruptions has been launched, something that could further put the blame for any poor behaviour on children with disability. 

There was good news for workers in the disability sector, though, as the Fair Work Commission increased the minimum wage and awards by $40 per week in July. As the cost of living rises, it was one positive step forward for workers.

What a year! It has been nothing short of eventful. From everyone at Talking Disability, we hope you have a safe and joyful Christmas and a happy New Year. We will see you in 2023.

What were the biggest stories for you in 2022? Share with us in the comments below!