21 February 2022
Although the NDIS has been in place for over eight years now, it remains a hot topic whenever election time rolls around. With the federal elections fast approaching, we took a deep dive into the policies of the key party’s participating in the upcoming elections to better understand who has policies for or against the NDIS.
Although the Coalition have no public policy principles which address the needs of the NDIS or the calls to action by the disability community, they do outline many Scheme statistics such as number of people in the Scheme and the NDIS’ budgeted funding.
As stated by NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds and other Coalition leaders, “under the Coalition, the NDIS will always be fully funded.” Liberal Party discussions around the NDIS have primarily focused on funding and costs, as well as making the NDIS an economically viable and sustainable social support.
Currently, in their federal platform, which is a document that outlines the policy priorities, principles and beliefs of a party, there is no mention of the NDIS or the disability community. Only time will tell if the LNP will share more details around how they would address the many bumps in the road that have been occurring since the implementation of the NDIS.
With Bill Shorten currently acting as “shadow minister” to the NDIS, the Labor Party has remained a prominent presence in NDIS discourse and action. During the controversy around Independent Assessments, the Labor party took a strong stance against their implantation.
The Labor Party policy principles are currently as follows:
• Labor will not abandon people when they fall on hard times as the NDIS insulates Australians from circumstances that are beyond their control.
• Consultation with people with disability, their advocates, and the disability sector.
• The NDIA should be appropriately resourced and supported to deliver choice and controls for participants. Labour has promised to work with the states and territories to ensure the NDIS works effectively with other systems, like health, mental health, education, and carer support.
• The NDIS should deliver fair remuneration, job security and career development opportunities for the disability sector workforce.
When the NDIS was formed in 2013, the Labor Government amended the Age Discrimination Act to exclude individuals aged 65 and over from being able to access the Scheme. Due to the increased push to extend the age limit, this may be a point of contention within the Labor Party in the coming months.
The Greens introduced a Fix the NDIS Campaign over a year ago that has multiple policy focuses such as:
• A fully funded National Disability Insurance Scheme. Lift the staffing cap from 3,300 to at least 10,000.
• Improve training processes for all staff, particularly disability awareness training.
• An ICT system that is fit for purpose, and accessible for participants and staff. Better support so that those who need to can access funding for assistance animals.
The Greens were also vocal in the eradication of plans for Independent Assessments and had written this into their Fix the NDIS Campaign going into the upcoming election. They have also pushed to increase the age limit of entrants to the Scheme, stating that the 65 and below cap results in serious discrimination and risks to wellbeing for many people who have disabilities but are unable to access the Scheme due to their age.
The Centre Alliance Party policies relating to disability and the NDIS state that “People with disabilities should be treated with dignity and respect and be able to live fulfilling and meaningful lives.”
Although the party is yet to provide more details or an action plan, they have given two examples of action they believe needs to be taken:
• The rollout of the NDIS needs to be carefully evaluated to ensure it achieves the maximum benefit for its clients.
• Respite for those families with a disabled family member needs to be given greater priority.
Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie is pushing to move a motion in the House of Representatives calling on the government to strikeout the cut-off age for the NDIS (which is currently 65 years of age) to prevent ageism, or to expand the retiree disability payment.
The Socialist Alliance Party policies around the NDIS are:
• Make all infrastructure − housing, public and commercial buildings, transport, education, employment, recreation, and culture − fully accessible.
• Private, for-profit organisations should not receive public funding.
• Democratise governance of all disability funding-support bodies, including the NDIS; fundamentally reorganise the NDIS with governance provided by a board with the majority members being people with disability.
• Make NDIS fully transparent and accountable; people with disability and their organisations must be the central decision-makers in shaping the design, implementation, and monitoring.
• NDIS eligibility must not apply a medical model to disability; it must meet the needs and reflects the interests of all those with disability, and be inclusive, regardless of type, severity and episodic nature, age, visa status and how disability was acquired; psycho-social disability must be included; access to the system should not be means tested.
• Assessment of requirements for services, support, equipment, and aids must be guided by a self-assessment of the person with disability as the expert of their personal and life situation.
• Oppose any attempt to categorise workers in the disability services sector as being in a “private and domestic” relationship with the person/people they support.
• Ensure all workers providing support and other services funded by government receive, as a minimum, the same wages, and conditions as those currently working within the state public sector.
• Ensure NDIS is an equitable system across all states and territories, and across urban, regional, and rural areas; where relevant services are not readily available (e.g., culturally specific or a service located in a remote or regional area), government must ensure that these services and supports are provided.
Democratic Labour Party:
The Democratic Labor Party (DLP) share that people with disabilities, their families and carers, deserve a better quality of life and that all care and support options should be person-centred.
Their policies on the NDIS include:
• The Disability Services Act should be strengthened to further enable an equality of rights and opportunities for people with disabilities.
• The funding of advocacy services should be reassessed and strengthened.
• Adequate funding for the NDIS should be explored.
• The implementation of a NDIS should be transparent, and accountable.
• Mainstream services should be required and funded to accommodate people with all types of disabilities.
• Remaining sites of congregate care (commonly referred to as institutions), should be shut down, with current residents moved into community-based options.
• Families with children with complex disabilities should receive adequate access to respite care options to avoid the incidence of relinquishment of their children into state care.
• The DLP aim to encourage innovation by Australians in the design, manufacture and production of aides, therapies, and equipment for Australians with disabilities.
The following parties have no policies or principles outlined to address the NDIS or support for Australia’s population of people with disabilities:
Affordable Housing Party
Animal Justice Party
Australian Christians Party
Australian Citizens Party
Australian Democrats Party
Australian Federation Party
Christian Democratic Party
Climate Emergency Action Alliance
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party
Federal ICAC Now
Health Australia Party
Indigenous Party of Australia
Informed Medical Options
Katter Australia Party
Kim for Canberra
Legalise Cannabis Party
Liberal Democratic Party
Rex Patrick Team
One Nation Australia
Seniors United Party
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party
Socialist Equality Party
Sustainable Australia Party
United Australian Party
United Australia Party has stayed silent at this stage on their thoughts about the NDIS and what changes they would like to see. In fact, UAP reportedly has not made a public comment on their positioning with the NDIS since the commencement of the Scheme in 2013, during which time UAP’s founder and leader Clive Palmer stated that the Medicare Levy that was introduced to support the NDIS should be removed.
One Nation have also disagreed with the increase of the Levy in 2013 and 2019, with the NDIS as the focus of none of their current policy priorities. One Nation have also stated their opposition to those who ‘rort’ the system by gaining access to the NDIS without initially qualifying under the primary conditions. As we have heard, this logic can be dangerous as disabilities are not uniform and generalising people with disability and their needs leads to the exclusion of people who do require assistance or support to live with disabilities.
The Medicare Levy has also been a point of interest for the Jacqui Lambie Network, whose previous statements have been in support of the Medicare Levy, stating that they believe “the Levy and the NDIS play an important role in protecting the most vulnerable in our society.”