DIA CALLS FOR SECTOR SUSTAINABILITY IN 2023-24 FEDERAL BUDGET MEASURES
The peak body for disability Support Coordination and Plan Management providers and practitioners, Disability Intermediaries Australia (DIA), calls for sector sustainability in 2023-24 Federal Budget measures to ensure a vibrant and quality-based disability sector that enhance the rights of people with disability to exercise choice and control and dignity of risk.
On the release of the 2023-24 Federal Budget, Mr Jess Harper DIA CEO said,
“The NDIS was introduced by the Gillard Labor Government to ensure people with a disability have their needs met in a way that truly supports them to live with choice and dignity, finally recognising the rights of people with disability to exercise choice and control over the planning and delivery of their supports.
The Albanese Labor Government must find the right balance to ensure people with a disability receive the supports that they need, whilst enabling and supporting a quality and vibrant market of supports and services with NDIS Participant choice and control at its center.”
Scheme growth must be seen in the context of the economic benefit that the NDIS makes to the Australian economy and community. Setting an annual growth target makes reasonable sense provided that it;
- does not change the demand-driven nature of the Scheme,
- cut participant supports,
- impact access to quality and safe services.
The 8 per cent target was announced by the Prime Minister after the national cabinet meeting two weeks ago. Flattening the growth rate to 8 per cent, according to the federal budget, will reduce scheme spending by $59 billion over seven years from 2027-28 to 2033-34. According to the budget scheme sustainability measures will commence from 1 July 2023. Instead of the scheme growing by a further $17 billion over the next four years, as previously forecast, the budget suggests improved administration will now reduce additional growth in scheme expenses by $15.3 billion over the next four years.
Put together, that’s a total reduction in forecast NDIS spending of $74 billion over the next 10 years. Whilst DIA has been critical on the forward projections of the NDIS spending, with these projections being notoriously inaccurate, this level of proposed savings is massive.
Support Coordinators and Plan Managers have had their prices frozen and not received a price increase for almost 4 years. This has put downward pressure on quality within the market to be viable. We have seen hundreds of providers cease service and exit the market. Support Coordinators and Plan Managers are critical NDIS supports and are at the very center of supporting participants to self-direct their lives and exercise their choice and control.
DIA supports reform measures that further improve NDIS Participant choice and control.
The measures announced from National Cabinet and the Budget include the statement “Better supporting participants to manage their plan within budget, including assistance from NDIA during the year and holding plan managers, support coordinators and providers to account”. What remains unclear is exactly what is meant by holding Plan Managers and Support Coordinators to account and more importantly is the insinuation that Plan Managers and Support Coordinators are as a sector somehow not delivering within the current prescribed policy.
Budget measures announced will need thoughtful and collaborative co-design with participants, Support Coordinators, Plan Managers and Providers to ensure these proposed improvements can be implemented in a way that doesn’t negatively impact on quality services and participant safety, particularly:
- Better planning ($73.4 million),
- Flexible plans ($63.8 million),
- Strengthening independent living decisions ($56.4 million),
- Increasing the take up of evidence-based supports ($29.3 million), and
- Trialing blended payment models ($24.6 million),
“It is vitally important to get this right for the scheme to deliver what it was originally intended to.” Mr Jess Harper said.
It is in the sector’s interest that the Agency managing the NDIS has the right people and the right capabilities in place to support better decision-making.
DIA strongly supports the additional funding ($142.6 million) for the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. It is critical that resourcing for the NDIS Commission reflects the growth in participants and providers.
You can read the Treasurer’s, Hon Dr Jim Chalmers, full speech here.
DIA is a members-based organisation. We are only able to do the work that we do because of the ongoing support of our members. Thank you to all DIA members that continue to support the work we do. If you’re a provider delivering Support Coordination or Plan Management are not yet a member, you should consider joining.