What is an NDIS?
Depending on life’s chances, any one of us could be living with a permanent disability that significantly reduces our ability to independently care for ourselves. On average, every 30 minutes someone in Australia is diagnosed with a significant disability.
Yet in Australia, we have a cruel lottery where the services and support people with disability, their families and carers receive depends on where they live, what disability they have, and how they attained that disability.
As the Productivity Commission found, while there are pockets of success in some states, no disability support arrangements in any state or territory are working well in all areas.
This is despite the enormous effort of disability workers on the ground helping to provide support and services to people with disability, their families and carers, and with funding from all levels of government.
Instead, people with disability are caught in a system that responds to crisis; a system that drips out support rather than invests in someone’s future. A system that is failing.
The Prime Minister released the Productivity Commission’s report on 10 August 2011 and all governments agreed with the recommendation to establish a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
An NDIS will turn the way we currently provide disability services on its head. Rather than funding based on historical budget allocations, a funding pool will be based on actuarial assessment of need.
It will recognise that disability is for a lifetime, and so it will take a lifelong approach to providing care and support. This means that assessment will look beyond the immediate need, and across the course of a person’s life. For example, home modifications might be expensive up front, but if they afford a person with significant disability the opportunity of greater independence, or if they mean that a parent or carer can continue to care for their loved one, it’s a good investment.
Taking a lifelong approach also means focusing on intensive early intervention, particularly for people where there is good evidence that it will substantially improve functioning or delay or lessen a decline in functioning.
Importantly, an NDIS will support choice for people with disability, their families and carers, and put people in control of the care and support they receive, based on need. Of course, there will also be safeguards in place to support people in exercising this choice and control, and to help them make informed choices.
An NDIS will ensure people are no longer “shut out” from opportunities and from independence by providing the appropriate and necessary supports that allow people with disability to reach their full potential.
It will nurture and sustain the support of families, carers and friendship groups — the very communities of support that are critical to improving the lives of people with disability.
And it will include a comprehensive information and referral service, to help people with a disability who need access to mainstream, disability and community supports.
A National Disability Insurance Scheme will give all Australians the peace of mind to know that if they have or acquire a disability that leaves them needing daily assistance with everyday life, or if they care for someone who has a disability, that they will be supported.