Federal Budget: “Not a Budget for people with disability”

Posted 3 years ago by Liz Alderslade
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) found that key disability sector requests were completely overlooked in the Federal Budget. [Source: iStock]
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) found that key disability sector requests were completely overlooked in the Federal Budget. [Source: iStock]

The long awaited Federal Budget was unveiled on 11 May with the Government allocating $13.2 billion to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and promises to fully fund the scheme, however, disability advocates have dubbed this year’s Budget as “not a Budget for people with disability”.

This funding will be spent over four years with a focus towards the NDIS, the care and support workforce, and myGov.

Additionally, the Government will provide an additional $799 million over four years to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. It will also deliver on its commitment to implement a Participant Service Guarantee and set clear standards for decision making by the NDIA.

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) was the only disability organisation allowed into the Federal Budget 2021 lockdown and found that key disability sector requests were completely overlooked.

President of PWDA, Samantha Connor, says the people with disability have missed out in this year’s Budget.

“The Government has missed a chance to level the playing field for people with disability in the latest budget. Budget 2021 is not a budget for people with disability,” says Ms Connor.

“Disabled people are facing heightened anxiety and significant disadvantage during the many disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People with disability urgently need the backing of our Government during these troubled times to ensure we don’t face unnecessary disadvantage but the Government has largely ignored our pleas.”

While a number of reforms in the Budget would have an effect on some people with disability, PWDA has criticised the Government for a “worrying lack of detail on some plans and for not involving key groups with its preliminary plans”.

Highlighted areas in the Budget that PWDA believe will impact people with disability include:

  • $878.7 million for new and amended listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

  • $278.6 million for Headspace centres

  • $9.3 million over three years for the prevention of violence against women with disability

  • Aligning aged care, veterans and disability sectors, including worker screening processes and regulatory systems

Minister of the NDIS, Linda Reynolds CSC, says the NDIS is remarkable and a world first, however, the scale and cost per participant is now on a trajectory well ahead of what was anticipated by its original design.

She says the Government will continue discussing with States and Territories on how they can work together to guarantee the affordability of the NDIS for generations to come.

This follows ongoing rhetoric from the Government that the NDIS is not sustainable in its current form.

PWDA has disputed this claim with Ms Connor reprimanding the Government for using ‘scare tactics’ and ‘dodgy accounting’ on the expected future growth of the NDIS.

“Disabled people had called on the government to urgently fund a raft of measures and meet Australia’s responsibilities under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability but the government has ignored our pleas,” says Ms Connor.

Ms Connor believes that the growth to the NDIS had already been anticipated years ago and wanted the Budget to “give people with disability a fair go”.

Peak body for non-Government disability service organisations, National Disability Services (NDS) backed Ms Connors claim, stating on Tuesday that political parties need to ‘drop the politics’ as the NDIS ‘blowout’ was actually just forecasted growth.

A 2018 Productivity Commission Study Report into NDIS costs has predicted that the NDIS would cost $30.6 billion by 2024-25, similar to the forecast in the Budget.

Chief Executive of the NDS, David Moody, says, “At the moment we are hearing scary talk about a scheme in danger, which is unsettling for people with disability, and inconsistent with the Productivity Commission’s outlook from 2017.

“Our ask [sic] now is that the Government and Agency commit to constructive conversations with NDS, our members, and other disability sector stakeholders to help develop solutions to any concerns the NDIA or Minister has.

“What we need to avoid is for NDIS participants, and their service providers – our members – to be caught in any political crossfire over funding or for any new programs to be rolled out which are designed to ‘rein in costs’ or ‘drive efficiency’ but which haven’t taken into account the real-life experience of those who are directly impacted.”

The NDS did welcome the Budget announcement that the NDIS will be fully funded with an additional $13.2 billion injection into the sector.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese released a Budget response to what the Federal Government has put forward, however, people with disability and the NDIS was not mentioned.