National Disability Insurance Scheme

Budget Review 2018–19 Index

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’.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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 Commonwealth entity.[5]

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.[6] The remainder is from Australian Government revenue, savings or borrowings.[7]

The debate around funding the NDIS has been contentious.[8] 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.[9]

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’.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] 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.’[13] 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.’[14]

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.[15] The measure provides $92.1 million over five years from 2017–18.[16]

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’.[17]

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.[18]

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 support.[19]

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.[20]

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.[21] The Productivity Commission reported that early evidence ‘indicates that the workforce is growing quickly, but not fast enough to meet the overall growth target.’[22] 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.[23]

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 coordination platforms’.[24]


[1].          Australian Government, Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2018–19, p. 3-9.

[2].          Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2018–19, p. 32.

[3].          Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1:2018–19, op. cit., p. 6-24.

[4].          Ibid., p. 6-10; see also p. 6-25.

[5].          Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2018–19: budget related paper no. 1.15: Social Services Portfolio, p. 138.

[6].          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.

[7].          Ibid.

[8].          L Buckmaster, The National Disability Insurance Scheme: a quick guide, Research paper series, 2016–17, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2017; L Buckmaster and A Dunkley, ‘National 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.

[9].          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.

[11].       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. cit.

[12].       Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1:2018–19, op. cit.

[13].       Every Australian Counts, Every Australian Counts welcomes permanent funding for the NDIS, media release, 8 May 2018.

[14].       National Disability Services, Government confirms NDIS commitment—now let's make sure the scheme works, media release, 8 May 2018.

[15].       Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2018–19, op. cit., p. 176.

[16].       Ibid.

[17].       National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), ‘Continuity of support’, NDIS website.

[18].       Department of Social Services (DSS), Continuity of support for clients of Commonwealth disability programs, fact sheet, DSS, 2018.

[19].       Ibid.

[20].       Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2018–19, op. cit., p. 176; DSS, NDIS Jobs and Market Fund, fact sheet, DSS, 2018.

[21].       Disability Reform Council, National Disability Insurance Scheme Integrated Market, Sector and Workforce Strategy, DSS, Canberra, 2015, p. 19.

[22].       National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) costs, op. cit., p. 249.

[23].       Australian Parliament, Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Scheme – Market readiness inquiry, Parliament of Australia website.

[24].       Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2018–19, op. cit., p. 177.


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