BUDGET 2016: Don’t fund our NDIS at the cost of our safety net

3 May 2016

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) welcomes the Government’s overarching commitment to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) into the future. However, we strongly reject the budget measures that link a fully funded NDIS with the need to cut welfare spending.

“We have always welcomed a discussion about funding the NDIS so it is sustainable into the future and to ensure it is taken out of the budget cycle,” Mr Wallace said. “However, the NDIS Savings Fund announcements risk moving the NDIS further into the budget cycle by creating an expectation that the NDIS will be funded from ongoing trade-offs against other equally important human services expenditures. If there is to be a savings fund, it should not be a device to make savings, and poor trade-offs between programs and services supporting and sustaining vulnerable members of our community.”

“We note the Government’s decision to subject another 30,000 Disability Support Pensioners each year to annual reviews however it is unclear to us how these people will be selected and where the employment opportunities will come from. In the absence of jobs, cutting people off the Disability Support Pension (DSP) and placing them on Newstart will leave some people with disability over $170 per week worse off. This will leave people with disability at risk of spiralling into crisis and homelessness and in greater need of the kind of specialist disability supports the NDIS provides.

“We should not be making trade-offs and false economies between specialist disability support and income support,” said PWDA Craig Wallace. “This is robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Given the opportunity to reform both income support and specialist disability support, the Productivity Commission in 2010, deliberately chose to keep these systems separate in recognition of the fact that some people with disability will always need both specialist disability support and a safety net.

“While PWDA welcomes the announcement of the PaTH employment program for young people, we have consistently called for a specific jobs plan for people with disability and are disappointed not to see this plan progressed in the Budget. PWDA urges Government to revisit the recommendations of the McClure review, especially its call for a disability and mental health jobs plan. We note that a number of useful disability jobs measures were included in the Willing to Work Report released yesterday by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

“For instance, the Australian Government continues to be a poor employer of people with disability with the employment rate having halved over the last two decades and the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) noting that more than half of the people with disability leaving the Public Service are doing so for reasons other than their own choosing.

“It’s time we adopted targets and got people with disability real jobs,” Mr Wallace said. “Many people want jobs, and have consistently called for a national Jobs Plan to be developed and implemented so that disability is no longer a passport to poverty.”

Regarding other budget measures, Mr Wallace noted, “While expressing concerns with several of the Federal Budget measures outlined by Treasurer Scott Morrison tonight, PWDA does welcome the decision to enable people with transport costs to retain their mobility allowance as the NDIS is rolled out in order to provide continuity of support. We are keen for further details about changes to eligibility requirements. A number of measures in this Budget require further analysis and explanation.”

“While noting the provision of additional funding for students with disability, PWDA remains very concerned that this funding does not match the needs based funding that was identified under the Gonski reforms.”

“PWDA is disappointed to see that no allocation has been made towards establishing a national redress scheme for the Royal Commission into Institutional Reponses to Child Sexual Abuse. A welter of violence, abuse and neglect against children and adults with disability has been uncovered by both the Royal Commission and the Senate Inquiry into this issue, and both have noted that people with disability experience significant barriers in the justice system. A national redress scheme would help level the playing field for people with disability and ensure justice for all survivors.”

MEDIA: PWDA President Craig Wallace 0413 135 731

People with Disability Australia Incorporated (PWDA) is a national disability rights and advocacy, non-profit, non-government organisation. We have a cross-disability focus, representing the interests of people with all kinds of disability and our membership is made up of people with disability and organisations mainly constituted by people with disability.

Our vision is of a socially just, accessible and inclusive community, in which the human rights, citizenship, contribution, potential and diversity of all people with disability are respected and celebrated.