General backgrounder

Who will be covered under DisabilityCare Australia?

More than 26,000 people with disability, their families and carers will benefit from the first stage of DisabilityCare Australia, which will be gradually implemented to ensure we establish a sustainable national scheme and that people can transition into the scheme smoothly.

Once fully rolled out by July 2019, DisabilityCare Australia will provide support for around 460,000 people who have a significant and permanent disability that affects their communication, mobility, self-care or self-management, and who need assistance with everyday activities.

This includes people who are dependent on a wheelchair or prosthesis for mobility, assistance from others in decision making, accessing the community and/or managing household tasks.

DisabilityCare Australia will also support people who would benefit substantially from early intervention to prevent or reduce permanent disability.

There isn’t a list of who is in and who is out because the scheme is designed to be about what an individual can do and what they need to  achieve their goals.

The Australian Government accepted the Productivity Commission’s recommendation that there should be an age-65 threshold for entry to the scheme, on the basis that people should get the care they need in the aged care and the disability care systems and that there should not be duplication between the two.

After receiving feedback from stakeholders, we have ensured that people with degenerative conditions who would benefit from early intervention supports can enter before age 65, and can remain in the scheme after turning 65.

DisabilityCare Australia will complement the aged care system to ensure we are delivering a cohesive system that gives people with disability, older people, their families and carers the support they need. People will be able to get the care they need in either system. Existing services for older Australians will continue to provide supports to people who develop a disability after age 65.

People with disability who are under the age of 65, and who do not meet the access requirements for the scheme, will also continue to receive supports consistent with their currently agreed arrangements.

See some examples of how DisabilityCare Australia will help people with disability, their families and carers.

What will DisabilityCare Australia cover?

DisabilityCare Australia will provide long-term, individualised support that is reasonable and necessary to meet the needs of people with permanent and significant disability. This may include an individual plan and an individually funded package.

The supports available under the scheme will vary from person to person, but may include therapies, home and vehicle modifications, assistive devices and equipment, assistance with household tasks, personal care and transport, community access, and assistance for family and carers.

DisabilityCare Australia will recognise that disability is for a lifetime, and so it will take a lifelong approach to providing support. This means that assessment will look beyond the immediate need, and across the course of a person’s life.

Taking a lifelong approach also means that DisabilityCare Australia will focus on early intervention. The scheme will make early investments where there is good evidence that it will improve the long-term outcomes for people, reduce lifetime costs and delay or mitigate the deterioration in a person’s functional capacity, so they can remain independent for as long as possible.

An information and referral service will help people with disability access mainstream, disability and community supports. DisabilityCare Australia may also provide assistance to community or disability groups for specific projects or accessibility projects, which are designed to benefit a significant group of people.

As part of DisabilityCare Australia, people may also receive support from a Local Area Coordinator to build their support network so that formal services do not need to be the only response to meet people’s needs.

Local Area Coordinators will work with people with disability, their families and carers to consider their immediate and future goals and how these might best be achieved, as well as help them achieve these goals by building new networks and accessing support and services in their community. They will also work alongside communities and mainstream services, supporting them to become more welcoming and inclusive.

How do people enter the scheme?

There are a couple of ways people can enter the scheme. If a person is already receiving support through an existing disability support provider, staff from DisabilityCare Australia will contact them through that provider. These people won’t have to go through an extensive new assessment process, as the aim is that the scheme does not double up on paperwork that has already been done. Most of the initial participants in the launch have already been contacted through their current providers, and new participants will also be able to access the scheme over the launch period.

If a person isn’t already receiving support from a disability support provider, they’ll be able to make contact with the DisabilityCare Australia Agency directly, either through its website, on the phone, or in person. People can also be referred to DisabilityCare Australia from anywhere—a GP, a hospital, Department of Human Services, or a community organisation.

People are able to do a preliminary self-assessment using My Access Checker, either online or in hard copy (see My Access Checker). This tool will give people an indication of whether they will be able to access DisabilityCare Australia, or whether their needs are best met by another system—like the health system—or by community organisations or groups. If their needs are best met elsewhere, DisabilityCare Australia will provide them with referrals and assistance in identifying where they should go for support.

The support that people receive through the current disability system will be maintained until they have their individual plans and support arrangements with DisabilityCare Australia in place. No one will experience any gaps in the provision of their services.

How much does this cost the federal Government?

The 2013-14 Federal Budget provided $14.3 billion over seven years to 2018-19 to roll out DisabilityCare Australia nationally, on top of existing Commonwealth disability funding. Overall, the Australian Government is providing $19.3 billion over seven years to roll out the scheme.

The Federal Budget also provided long term funding for DisabilityCare Australia through an increase to the Medicare Levy of 0.5 percentage points and through responsible savings measures.

The Budget makes the responsible decisions that are needed to fund DisabilityCare for the long term. This unprecedented funding security gives people with disability, their families and carers the certainty they deserve. It is also reassuring for all Australians—because any of us can unexpectedly face disability in the future.