Election promises recapped for people with disability

Posted 2 years ago by Anna Christian
Political parties have outlined their plans for the NDIS and other strategies affecting the lives of people with disability in the lead up to the Federal Election. [Source AdobeStock]
Political parties have outlined their plans for the NDIS and other strategies affecting the lives of people with disability in the lead up to the Federal Election. [Source AdobeStock]

The Federal Election is approaching fast and political parties have been finalising their positions for voters to compare on 21 May.

Talking Disability has pulled together the main policies relevant for people with disability and their families from the major political parties across Australia.

You can read more about the parties’ responses to the requests of disability representative organisations here.

The Liberal Party, which currently forms the Coalition Government, committed to “fully funding” the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in its Federal Budget 2022/23.

The Party’s other policies that could benefit people with disability include more investment in Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), which could cover the costs of health care and medication for conditions such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and spinal muscular atrophy.

COVID-19 treatments to prevent people who may be at risk of severe symptoms from the virus, like some people with disability, have also been listed on the PBS.

If re-elected, the Liberal Party promises to lower the maximum price of PBS medicines from $42.50 to $32.50 per script, with concession card holders continuing to only pay $6.80 per script.

The Party also promises to make genetic testing during pregnancy or pre-pregnancy, such as for cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy and fragile X syndrome, available through Medicare “to support family planning”.

Other commitments the Liberal Party says it has already achieved, or promises to achieve, include:

  • Safeguarding the wellbeing of Australians by boosting mental health support with $6.8 billion in 2022-23, this would cover:
  • Funding for critical front line services and suicide prevention
  • Double the number of Medicare subsidised psychological services available through the Better Access Initiative
  • More funding for Lifeline, headspace, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline
  • A one-off $420 cost-of-living tax offset and a one-off cost-of-living payment of $250 for Australians most in need
  • Establishing a National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability Health
  • Developing a National Autism Strategy
  • Continuing the Inclusion Support Program (ISP) that assists child care services which requires extra support to include children with disability – in 2021-2022 up to 57,400 children will benefit from the ISP, compared to 21,000 in 2018-19 and an additional $73.9 million is being delivered through the ISP in 2021-22 to meet the increased demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic

Other Liberal Party policies can be found on the Party’s website.

The Australian Labor Party has a range of promises around “fixing” the NDIS.

Labor promises to:

  • Stop unfair cuts to individual NDIS plans with an Expert Review that will guarantee plans are not being unfairly reduced
  • Ensure a better future for the NDIS that puts people with disability at the centre of the Scheme and includes families, carers, service providers and workers
  • Identify and solve the problems with the design and operation of the scheme, ensuring solutions are evidence-based and are co-designed with people with disability, their families and carers, and service providers and workers
  • Make all proposed changes to the scheme transparent to rebuild trust between the NDIS and the people who rely on it for support
  • Publish data so the scheme can be properly monitored and evaluated
  • Increase the number of people with disability on the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) executive and board so that the voice and experience of participants returns to the scheme
  • Stop waste in the system by lifting the NDIA staffing cap, reducing service provider fraud, and investigating spending on external lawyers and consultants
  • Fix the planning pathway and appeals to make NDIS decision-making more efficient, fair, and investment-focused
  • Strengthen the disability services sector with a review of NDIS pricing, markets and compliance, and develop a comprehensive NDIS workforce strategy
  • Appoint a senior officer within the NDIA to tackle the barriers to service delivery in remote regions of Australia
  • Pause the current changes to Supported Independent Living (SIL) that are being progressed by the Coalition Government to allow for consultation
  • Investigate the $500 million Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) underspend to ensure people with disability can access appropriate housing
  • Investigate the NDIA Call Centre operation so participants and their families get the best possible service

Labor also promises to put $15 million into a National Disability Research Partnership to gather the evidence needed to make future changes to the NDIS.

The Party will monitor the implementation of the National Disability Strategy to make sure it works, develop a National Autism Strategy and establish a Disability Employment Centre for Excellence to improve employment outcomes.

Other promises that Labor has made for people with disability include:

  • Never again leaving people with disability at the back of the queue in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic or a future emergency response
  • Introducing central coordination of disability services to ensure real action and recognition for all Australians with disability, not just those on the NDIS
  • Doubling existing support for individual and systemic advocacy with an additional $10 million over four years to address systemic abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and support to navigate services
  • Improve disability access in the community by ensuring there are enough ‘Changing Places’ – accessible toilets – available across the country by offering a third of the funding required to build a facility in each of the 400 Local Government Areas that are currently without one
  • Establishing a National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability Health
  • Strengthening anti-discrimination laws, including those protecting the rights of people with disability
  • Reducing the maximum cost of PBS medicines from $42.50 per script down to $30 per script

All of Labor’s policies can be found on the Australian Labor Party website.

Policies from smaller political parties

The National Party of Australia, which is currently part of the Coalition Government with the Liberal Party, also mentions the importance of the ISP in childcare.

The Nationals support the Liberal Party’s commitments to the disability sector and for people with disability.

Other National Party policies can be found on the Party’s website.

The Australian Greens party has committed to a number of specific policies that would benefit people with disability.

The Greens want to fully resource the NDIS so that it meets the needs of participants and their families.

Additionally, the party wants to invest $4.8 billion to ensure mental healthcare is fully covered under Medicare, with unlimited sessions with a psychologist or psychiatrist and no out of pocket fees, “so everyone can get the support they need, when they need it, at every stage of their mental health journey”.

To support this, the Greens want another 1,000 peer workers employed so that people with lived experience can provide mental health support.

The other key area that the Greens want to change is Government welfare support. The party wants to increase all income support payments above the poverty line to $88 a day, including the Disability Support Pension and JobSeeker Payment, and to remove negative social security measures such as the Cashless Debit Card.

Several of the Greens’ other policies are also relevant to people with disability, including:

  • Making the physical and digital worlds of people with disability accessible, including by establishing a new $3 billion Accessible Infrastructure Fund
  • Championing inclusive education and employment by establishing a 20 percent quota for full disabled employee representation in the Australian Public Service by 2030
  • Ensuring people with disability are at the centre of decision-making, policy and planning through a $30 million increase in Commonwealth funding for disability advocacy organisations over four years
  • Creating more accessible housing and healthcare through co-designed planning, policies, and implementation of the Liveable Housing Australia Silver Standard across the country
  • Replacing the privatised jobactive scheme with a public employment service that is responsive, flexible and tailored to an individual’s circumstances to ensure all unemployed people get the support they need to enter or re-enter the workforce
  • A human rights charter to tackle all forms of discrimination, including ableism

The Greens are also calling for the next Minister for the NDIS (or Minister for Disability) to be a person with disability.

More details on The Greens’ policies can be found on their website.

The Australian Federation Party wants a Bill of Rights that will comprehensively protect the rights of all Australians and to end discrimination on any basis.

Among its other policies, the Australian Federation Party believes school funding should be reallocated from schools to parents, so that parents can approach a school of their choice and negotiate an education that suits their child.

The Party says this would benefit students who need learning or behavioural support and students with disability by giving them the opportunity for tailored education.

Alongside this, the Party wants all schools to meet a “minimum benchmark of inclusion of students with learning or developmental disadvantages” before receiving public funds, to promote inclusion.

The Australian Federation Party says it recognises the importance of the NDIS and that it has faults. The Party’s plan for the NDIS is:

  • Funding for applications to the NDIS Policy Scheme to be undertaken by allied health professionals, who already know the applicant, using the standard assessment tools already identified
  • Rebalance excess/underfunded plans, for instance, the NDIA advise participants who are receiving disproportionately high funding levels in relation to the average with a view to bringing them back toward the average and increase funding for those on the lower end
  • Establish an independent plan support mechanism for all plans so fund managers and support coordinators (as plan supporters) are held responsible for ensuring the proper support of participants to protect people with disability from abuse and neglect and to achieve the most from their funding
  • Fund management funding and fees to be based on a percentage of total funding (not a fixed amount)
  • Remove any conflict of interest between plan support and service providers, and plan support must not be in any way linked to those providing services to a participant
  • Provide fund management support in parallel to Local Area Coordinators through the current provider network where separate funding is not included in a plan
  • Make the concept of ‘choice and control’ a reality
  • Increase employment opportunities for people with disability and ensure substantial tax incentives to businesses whose workforce is more than 50 percent people with disability or those above 50 years old

All of the Australian Federation Party policies can be found on their website.

The Centre Alliance party says people with disabilities should be treated with dignity and respect and be able to live fulfilling and meaningful lives.

The party has made commitments to evaluate the rollout of the NDIS to make sure it achieves the “maximum benefit” for participants and give greater priority to families needing respite.

All of Centre Alliance’s policies can be found on their website.

The Australian Christians party says it believes in fully funding the NDIS, that people with disability deserve the same dignity and recognition as all other citizens, and that support systems too often rely on family members and friends of people with disability rather than the Government providing the support that is needed.

The party adds that carers are unsung heroes who need more support too.

All of the Australian Christians party policies can be found on their website.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party promises to prohibit the use of NDIS funding for sex worker services and to limit the term of unemployment benefits to three years in any five year period to “end long-term unemployment payments to those under the age of 50”.

All of the One Nation policies can be found on the party’s website.

Other candidates and parties you might like to read about before voting can be found using the Australian Electoral Commission’s website.

*This article only includes political parties and not independent candidates running in specific seats.