27 June 2022
The 2022 federal election has not only brought forth a change in government with Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party taking the win, but there is also a new Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – Bill Shorten.
Minister Bill Shorten has been connected to the NDIS since its establishment under the Gillard Government back in 2013 and has been a shadow Minister for the NDIS since 2019.
In recent interviews and the DSC’s national WTFH online conference, Minister Shorten has outlined what he hopes the future of the NDIS will look like, including addressing the need to rebuild a sense of trust between people with disability and the federal government.
Minister Shorten stated that there had been a “catastrophic erosion of the trust between the disability sector and government”. Although the disability community can draw comfort from this acknowledgement and pledge for change, the rebuilding of trust that Minister Shorten discussed can only happen with action.
What are the priorities and changes regarding the NDIS Minister Shorten has pledged?
During the WTFH conference, he reiterated the federal government’s priorities for the NDIS, including:
• Co-designing improvements to the scheme with people with disability
• Increasing the number of people with disability who work at the NDIA
• Improving the design, operation, and sustainability of the NDIS
• Stopping cuts to plans
• Lifting staff caps at the NDIS
• Clamping down on fraud and waste within the scheme
• Improving the planning and appeals processes
“Now we have this exciting opportunity to return the NDIS to its original intent. The intent of the NDIS was to value people with disability, not measure their price in a rationed budget. The intent of the NDIS was to see the whole person, not just their impairment,” Shorten stated.
“The intent of the NDIS was that it would be a scheme which was designed and implemented and run with people with disability, not just on behalf of people with disabilities,” he added.
As part of his presentation, Shorten read a speech given by nine-year-old Henry, who lives with autism.
Henry’s speech spoke to his experience, ups and downs, his passions, perspectives, and expectations, and in the final two lines, the question: what next?
Minister Shorten responded, “My answer to Henry’s question – and also the theme of this conference – and ‘what’s next’ is that we need to ensure that the NDIS is effective and empathetic at achieving its goals and it works with a better, broader national disability strategy. And its evolution in the product of empowered co-design. Otherwise, we’re letting down participants, their families, our community.”
Minister Shorten said he planned to work with participants to find the supports they needed and that he felt more should be done for people with disability who are not part of the NDIS.
Following an increase in cases submitted to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), Shorten said he wanted to “find alternative, less costly ways to resolve disputes”.
“I look forward to working with all of you to make the NDIS the best scheme in the world for people living with profound and severe disability,” Shorten said. To bring home the message, the new minister is wanting to convey, he ended his speech with the words of Henry: “why shouldn’t we aim for the sky?”