People with Disability Australia (PWDA) welcomes additional funding and steps to address gaps in support for people with disability outlined in today’s Independent NDIS Review report.
“This report acknowledges what disabled people have known and experienced our entire lives – that support for us outside the NDIS is sorely lacking and must be improved. We know the NDIS has done some heavy and much-needed lifting, but even with the Scheme people have struggled to access the supports they need to live free and equal lives and participate fully in the community,” PWDA President Nicole Lee said.
“The recommendations in the report acknowledge that people with disability inside and outside the NDIS need access to supports. Seeing these delivered could mean a community that’s more inclusive, more accessible and an end to people fighting for the support they need.
“We welcome the addition of the navigator role to support people to navigate the whole system, which will be available irrespective of whether someone is an NDIS participant or not. This will help end the fear, confusion and difficulties we’ve faced navigating support systems.
“Increasing where, when and how people with disability can access support has the potential to help relieve the pressure on both people with disability and the NDIS. However, we can’t channel people into alternatives to NDIS support that aren’t ready, aren’t funded and aren’t working for people with disability – continuity of support must be guaranteed.
“We also don’t want to see a location lottery. Foundational supports announced yesterday must be readily available and consistent across the country.
“There’s a lot of work and investment to come before we see the whole environment working seamlessly for people with disability – a lot needs to happen inside and outside the NDIS to make sure people have access to more support, in more places at all stages of their life,” Ms Lee said.
While much of the detail will be negotiated over the coming months, PWDA believes many of the recommendations have the potential to deliver positive outcomes if they are done right.
“We will only accept reforms that support our inclusion, that don’t separate or group us simply because we have a disability or impact our choice and control.
“People with disability need a range of housing options and genuine choice over where they live, who they live with and the supports they receive in their homes. PWDA has long called for a targeted action plan for housing under Australia’s Disability Strategy, and it’s good to see this call reflected in the recommendations. However, we have some concern about recommendations focused on housing and living commonly based on a person sharing support with two other people.
“We welcome the recommendation to separate the provision of housing from other supports. We believe this is an important safeguard, removing conflicts of interest and the capacity for providers to assert power and control over people with disability,” Ms Lee said.
PWDA supports the report’s recognition that the needs of some people with disability over the age of 65 are not being met.
“It’s positive to see recommendations that aim to see people with disability over 65 have greater access to support through the NDIS and the aged care system,” Ms Lee said.
The report also spoke to the need to improve access to independent support for decision-making, which PWDA has welcomed.
“Access to independent support for decision-making gives people the capacity to exercise choice and control and means they have agency and autonomy over the choices they want to make,” Ms Lee said.
PWDA is seeking more detail on how some of the recommendations will work in practice and the steps to safeguard against unintended consequences.
“We will vigorously oppose anything compromising people’s eligibility, choice and control, flexibility or needs being met.
“While registering more providers might seem like a good idea it can’t come at a cost of choice and control, flexibility and value for money.
“If I can get the best price from a discount pharmacy, I don’t want regulations to prevent me from doing so or jacking up the price – enabling participants to get value for money is in everyone’s interests.”
PWDA has welcomed the assurances from governments that the next steps will involve people with disability and their representative organisations and the formal governance processes outlined in the report that would support this, such as establishing the Review Advisory Committee and permanent Disability Advisory Council.
“Disabled people must be in the room and in the driver’s seat so what these reforms will look like is decided by us, for us. It was reassuring to hear a commitment from Minister Shorten in today’s speech that actions will be implemented in partnership with the Disability Sector. We look forward to working with all levels of government.
“The devil will be in the detail of how changes are operationalised and rolled out. Genuine collaboration and co-design with people with disability is a safeguard that will ensure reforms don’t compromise the 4.4 million Australians with disabilities’ choice and control, our access to support and the flexibility we need,” Ms Lee said.
Anastasia Symons, PWDA Media and Communications
0491 034 479
About People with Disability Australia (PWDA)
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is a national peak disability rights and advocacy organisation made up of and led by people with disability.
Founded in 1981, PWDA represents the interests of people with all kinds of disability. We’re a not-for-profit community-based organisation and our members comprise a diverse range of individuals and organisations from across Australia.
Our vision is for a socially just, accessible and inclusive community, in which the human rights, belonging, contribution, potential and diversity of all people with disability are recognised, respected and celebrated with pride.
We work both nationally and internationally, and our work is grounded in a human rights framework that recognises the United Nations human rights conventions and related mechanisms as fundamental tools for advancing the rights of people with disability.