Peak disability bodies are urging the re-elected Liberal Government to turn its attention to fulfilling its National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) promises following its shock victory.
In the lead up to the polls, Prime Minister Scott Morrison released his plans to support people with disability, including ensuring the NDIS is fully-funded, an increased employment target, additional employment support, assistance for rural, remote, culturally and linguistically diverse and ageing communities, reduced red tape and the introduction of a NDIS Participant Service Guarantee.
Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Disability Services (NDS) David Moody says the peak body welcomes the Prime Minister's recent comments highlighting issues with the NDIS as one of the Government’s priorities.
“NDS is looking forward to working with the Government and the National Disability Insurance Agency to enhance the NDIS, including developing the NDIS Participant Service Guarantee and address issues of timeliness of NDIS plans and planning processes, and contributing to measures to improve employment of people with disability.”
Mr Moody says during the election campaign NDS and its members sought commitments from all the major political parties to deliver NDIS prices that reflect the true cost of services, a reduction in red tape, improved market stewardship and planning, a focus on employment opportunities for people with disability and working with Government on their National Workforce Strategy.
“Our priority is the same as Mr Morrison’s priority – to sort out the problems with the NDIS and ensure we provide quality services for people with disability and their families.”
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) has also shared its congratulations to Prime Minister Morrison and the Coalition and welcomes the priorities.
“We look forward to working with the newly returned Morrison Government over the next few years to put people with disability at the heart of their agenda,” their statement says.
The Coalition has promised a range of improvements for the NDIS, including implementing a single point of contact, an initiative frequently requested by PWDA members.
“Prime Minister Morrison has said that the NDIS is one of his highest priorities, which is excellent news for people with disability around Australia,” PWDA says.
“There will also be longer three-year plans, and some measures to make it easier to find services.”
Reforming the Specialist Disability Accommodation program will provide more housing options to people with disability, other than residential aged care facilities or group homes.
The statement also describes the seven percent employment target of people with disability in the Australian Public Services as an “excellent start”.
“People with disability need more access to paid work at fair wages and we will be pushing for a National Jobs Plan.
“We will continue to talk with the Federal Government about the impact the low rate of Newstart, and changes to the Disability Support Pension, are having on people with disability who are living in poverty.”
PWDA says the upcoming Royal Commission into Violence, Neglect and Abuse of People with Disability is vital and the organisation has already written to the Prime Minister asking two key Commissioners to step down.
“Our Royal Commission is an essential step towards justice for people with disability, and we will work with the Government to make the Commission the best it can be, including continuing to press for action to deal with the unmanageable conflicts of interest of two Commissioners, Mr Ryan and Ms Bennett.
“We will continue to call for reforms of the Disability Discrimination Act, and ensure that the current review of the National Disability Strategy and the National Disability Agreement delivers positive outcomes for all people with disability across Australia.”
Community members and advocates took to Twitter to discuss their scepticism following claims the Prime Minister used funds from the NDIS underspend to prop up the budget surplus.
“You’ve had six years. SIX YEARS. And now it’s a priority?” Emma Husar says.
“He is just vowing. Vowing is easy. Action takes work,” Carl De Stefano tweets.
“He'll need to find the $1.7b he stole from NDIS first,” Denise Allen says.
President of The Australian Psychological Society (APS), Ros Knight says the re-elected Morrison Government needs to continue to ease the mental health crisis in Australia through the implementation of a number of programs announced in the 2019-20 Federal Budget
The programs include walk-in adult mental health treatment centres, healthy workplace programs, eating disorder centres, greater investment in youth programs and perinatal mental health support.
“These programs are a good start to reforming the mental health system, but there needs to be a solid commitment to continue the reform process or any gains will be lost,” Ms Knight says.
“Mental illness is the third highest cause of burden of disease in Australia, but we have a long way to go for it to receive budget parity with physical health.
“The APS looks forward to working with the Morrison Government on its mental health agenda over the next three years to ensure all Australians can access the care they need,” she says.