Shannon Clark and Luke Buckmaster
In the 2018–19 Budget, the Government commits to ‘guaranteeing
essential services’, including ‘fully funding its share of the National
Disability Insurance Scheme’. It also reverses the 2017–18
Budget’s proposal to increase the Medicare levy by 0.5 per cent to provide funding
for the NDIS. The 2018–19 Budget
includes two additional measures to support the NDIS and disability services—a
measure on continuity of support and the NDIS Jobs and Market Fund.
It is unlikely the measures will require new legislation.
‘Fully funding’ the NDIS
From 2018–19 to 2021–22, the total expenses for the NDIS are
$83.4 billion, of which the Australian Government will contribute $43.2
billion. The NDIS is the seventh
largest program by expenses in 2018–19 with costs estimated to be $16.7 billion
in 2018–19, increasing to a projected $23.6 billion in 2021–22, though it
should be noted that the figures include both Australian and state and
territory government contributions. The Australian and state
and territory governments jointly contribute to the costs of the NDIS, which is
delivered through the National Disability Insurance Agency, a corporate
Funding arrangements for the NDIS are complex. Funding comes
from a combination of sources, including redirected funds from previous state
and territory disability services, funds previously provided to state and
territory governments under the National Disability Agreement and the 2011
National Health Reform Agreement, and an earlier increase to the Medicare levy.
The remainder is from Australian Government revenue, savings or borrowings.
The debate around funding the NDIS has been contentious.
The Coalition Government has repeatedly stated that the previous Labor
Government did not provide sufficient funding to fully implement the scheme,
while Labor maintains that it ‘found the funding for the National Disability
Insurance Scheme when we were in Government’ and that it was set out in the 2013–14 Budget.
In the 2017–18 Budget, the Government announced that it
would increase the Medicare levy by 0.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent of
taxable income to ‘ensure the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is
fully funded’. The measure was proposed
to begin on 1 July 2019 and generate revenue of $8.2 billion dollars over
the forward estimates. However, shortly before the 2018–19 Budget, the
Government announced that it would no longer be increasing the Medicare levy
and that it could ‘fully fund’ the NDIS without it due to a stronger economy
and an improved budget fiscal position.
In the 2018–19 Budget, the Government has again committed to
‘fully funding’ its contribution to the NDIS, although, as noted, without the
previously proposed increase to the Medicare levy.
That is, it will be funded from the Consolidated Revenue Fund as part of the
ongoing cost of the Government’s core business.
The Government’s funding commitment to the NDIS has been welcomed
by stakeholder groups, who hope that the Budget will put to rest some of the
debate about funding the NDIS. Kirsten Deane, Campaign Director from Every
Australian Counts, stated: ‘It is great to see the NDIS become a permanent feature
of Australia’s social and economic landscape.’ However, some concern in
relation to the long-term certainty of NDIS funding remains. Ken Baker, Chief
Executive of National Disability Services, warned against the NDIS being
treated as a political football and emphasised: ‘Long-term certainty
for the NDIS is imperative.’
National Disability Insurance
Scheme— continuity of support
The 2018–19 Budget includes a measure for ensuring
continuity of support for people with disability who are currently receiving
support under programs transitioning to the NDIS, but who are ineligible for
the NDIS. The measure provides
$92.1 million over five years from 2017–18.
The Australian and state and territory governments have
agreed to ensure people with disability who do not become NDIS participants are
not disadvantaged by the transition to the NDIS. Continuity of support means that
people who are currently accessing disability services ‘will continue to
receive support consistent with their current arrangements’.
There are 17 Commonwealth funded disability programs
transitioning funds and clients to the NDIS, of which 15 programs require
continuity of support.
Five packages of continuity of support will be implemented
from 1 July 2019:
- continuity of support for mental health programs
- continuity of support for carer programs
- a continuity of support Fund
- continuity of support for Mobility Allowance recipients and
- continuity of support for clients of the National Auslan
Interpreter Booking and Payment Service.
While most clients of existing disability programs are
expected to transition to the NDIS, some people will be ineligible due to not
meeting the NDIS’s access requirements for residence, age or disability. Approximately
27,000 clients of Commonwealth funded programs will receive continuity of
National Disability Insurance
Scheme Jobs and Market Fund
The 2018–19 Budget provides $64.3 million over four years to
support the development of disability provider markets and grow the workforce
both in number and capability.
The implementation of the NDIS is expected to substantially
increase demand for workers in the disability sector. It is anticipated that
the number of workers required to deliver NDIS supports will need to double
from approximately 73,600 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers reported in 2015
to 162,000 FTE workers at full scheme in 2019–20.
The Productivity Commission reported that early evidence ‘indicates that the workforce
is growing quickly, but not fast enough to meet the overall growth target.’
An inquiry into market readiness for the NDIS, including workforce
considerations is currently being conducted by the Joint Standing
Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The measure will provide targeted funding and investment to
support the rapid expansion of the market and jobs that is required and ‘develop
resources to assist disability service providers to take advantage of NDIS
opportunities, including provider toolkits, good practice guides and service
Australian Government, Budget strategy
and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2018–19, p. 3-9.
Australian Government, Budget
measures: budget paper no. 2: 2018–19, p. 32.
Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1:2018–19, op.
cit., p. 6-24.
p. 6-10; see also p. 6-25.
Australian Government, Portfolio
budget statements 2018–19: budget related paper no. 1.15: Social Services
Portfolio, p. 138.
Productivity Commission (PC), National Disability
Insurance Scheme (NDIS) costs, Position paper, PC, Canberra,
2017, p. 328; L Buckmaster, ‘’Fighting
for funding’: where to next for the NDIS?’,
FlagPost, Parliamentary Library blog, 27 April 2018.
L Buckmaster, The
National Disability Insurance Scheme: a quick guide, Research paper
series, 2016–17, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2017; L Buckmaster and A
Disability Insurance Scheme’, Budget review 2017–18, Research paper
series, 2016–17, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2017. Much of the discussion
of funding the NDIS is drawn from these research papers.
C Porter, ‘Second
reading speech: National Disability Insurance Scheme Savings Fund Special
Account Bill 2016’, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 March
2016; T Plibersek (Acting Leader of the Opposition), J Macklin (Shadow Minister
for Families and Social Services), C King (Shadow Minister for Health and
Medicare) and S Perri (Labor candidate for Chisholm),
Doorstop interview, transcript, 26 April 2018.
10. Australian Government, Budget
measures: budget paper no. 2: 2018–19, p. 24.
D Tehan (Minister for Social Services), A
fully funded NDIS, media release, 26 April 2018; for discussion about
stakeholders’ reactions to the announcement, please see ‘’Fighting
for funding’: where to next for the NDIS?’, op.
Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1:2018–19, op. cit.
Every Australian Counts, Every
Australian Counts welcomes permanent funding for the NDIS, media
release, 8 May 2018.
National Disability Services, Government
confirms NDIS commitment—now let's make sure the scheme works, media
release, 8 May 2018.
Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2018–19, op. cit., p. 176.
National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), ‘Continuity
of support’, NDIS website.
Department of Social Services (DSS), Continuity of support for clients of Commonwealth disability programs,
fact sheet, DSS, 2018.
Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2018–19, op. cit., p. 176;
Jobs and Market Fund, fact sheet, DSS, 2018.
Disability Reform Council, National
Disability Insurance Scheme Integrated Market, Sector and Workforce Strategy,
DSS, Canberra, 2015, p. 19.
Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) costs, op. cit., p. 249.
Australian Parliament, Joint
Standing Committee on the National Disability Scheme – Market readiness inquiry,
Parliament of Australia website.
measures: budget paper no. 2: 2018–19, op. cit., p. 177.
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