New South Wales is the first of the Australian states and territories to sign on the dotted line and ensure long-term funding of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The funding agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the NSW Governments will mean financial sustainability of the NDIS in NSW beyond its transition period, now and into the future.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in announcing the news to the media at a press conference held Point Clare in NSW, earlier this month.
“The agreement we have signed today is a demonstration of the partnership we’ve made to secure long-term funding here in NSW, a real partnership between NSW and the Commonwealth, the type of cooperation and commitment, a shared passion for serving and supporting the people who need our support the most,” Mr Turnbull says.
Gladys Berejiklian says she is proud to lead the first state in signing this commitment.
“Not only does it secure the funding, but it also makes sure the transition continues to be as smooth as possible.”
“We believe strongly in supporting people with disability and more importantly, ensuring they have greater control and choice over their lives through their carers and advocates,” she says.
Federal Minister of Social Services, Dan Tehan also expressed his contentment.
“Can I start by just commending NSW for the leadership they’ve shown in joining with the Commonwealth to sign this agreement,” he says.
“We now have a blueprint to ensure the ongoing financial sustainability of the NDIS. The leadership that NSW has shown can be shown by each other state and territory to ensure we get a truly national approach to the full implementation of the NDIS.”
Mr Tehan says negotiations with South Australia and Victoria are going well, however, he is hoping to increase the pace of the negotiations with other states and territories across Australia.
“This is about guaranteeing an essential service for the Australian people, ensuring that we are looking after people with disability.”
In alignment with the 2017 Productivity Commission Review of NDIS Costs, the funding agreement includes the following commitments:
The NSW Government has agreed that its annual funding contribution to the NDIS, which exceeds $3 billion in 2018-19, will be escalated by 4 percent per year.
The Australian Government will pay the balance of NDIS costs in NSW, providing certainty that the NDIS will remain fully funded into the future;
The two governments have committed to use shared funding to establish a NDIS reserve from 1 July 2019, to provide greater flexibility to manage the sustainability of the NDIS.
Under the agreement, NSW participants will access $3.1 billion of DisabilityCare Australia Fund payments between 2018-19 and 2023-24.
The NDIS is already benefiting over 84,000 NSW residents, which includes more than 16,000 people who had not previously accessed government‑funded specialist disability supports.
The Scheme is expected to eventually support around 140,000 people with disability in NSW and will be fully rolled out by 30 June 2018.
The agreement will take effect in NSW when the transition period ends on 1 July 2018.
Despite this commitment to funding, some disability advocates are concerned it will spell less State responsibility in the long run.
“The Physical Disability Council of NSW (PDCN) welcomes the NSW Government’s commitment to provide additional funding for the NDIS, as it is imperative that the Scheme is fully funded in order to ensure proper outcomes for people with disability,” Executive Officer Serena Ovens says.
“However, it is of some concern to us that in doing so, the NSW Government will see this is having done all they need to do for disability at a State level, and that after June this year, and certainly upon full roll out (2020) that they are abdicating all responsibility for disability to the NDIS and Federal Government.”
She says PCDN believe it is the NSW Government’s responsibility to remain in the disability sector for the long-term, to ensure the full inclusion of people with disability in areas such as health, education, employment, human rights and accessibility … responsibilities she says lie within the state’s laws, rules and regulations.