Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

COAG delivers key step for National Disability Insurance Scheme

Joint Media Release with:

  • Julia Gillard MP, Prime Minister
  • Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) today agreed on the need for major reform of disability services in Australia through a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

This follows the release of the Productivity Commission’s final report into Disability Care and Support last week.

The Gillard Government has already made it clear it supports the Productivity Commission’s vision for a system to provide individuals with the support they need over the course of their lifetime and that reform of disability services needs to be financially sustainable.

The agreements reached today means governments and the community can take the next step on the road to reforming disability services.

COAG will develop high-level principles by the end of the year to guide consideration of the Productivity Commission’s recommendations regarding a National Disability Insurance Scheme, including for foundation reforms, funding and governance.

The Council of Australian Governments also agreed to form a Select Council of Ministers from Commonwealth, States and Territories to start work immediately to lay the foundations for a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The Select Council will be supported by an Advisory Group, chaired by Dr Jeff Harmer AO, and the Australian Government has also sought nominations for further representatives from states.

Before the COAG meeting, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the Minister for Families, Community Services, Housing and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin, the Parliamentary Secretary for Disability and Carers Jan McLucas and First Ministers met with representatives from the ‘Every Australian Counts’ group.

They were presented with information about how important a National Disability Insurance scheme is for Australians with disability and their carers, as well as campaign badges and t-shirts.

Every Australian deserves to have confidence that if they acquire a disability or if their children are born with a disability they will receive the care and support they need.

All governments must work together to deliver the kind of care and support that Australians expect for people with a disability.

The states and territories deliver disability services under the National Disability Agreement and have primary funding responsibility for disability support services.

The agreement means that State and Territory Treasurers and Ministers responsible for disability will now work with the Commonwealth through the Select Council to begin to lay the foundations for long-term change.

This foundation work is consistent with the recommendations made by the Productivity Commission to get Australia NDIS-ready.

Foundation reforms include developing common assessment tools, so that people’s eligibility for support can be assessed fairly and consistently, based on their level of need, no matter which state or territory they live in.

They also include putting in place service and quality standards so that people with disability can expect high-quality support; building workforce capacity so we have more trained staff to support people with disabilities; and developing rigorous timelines, milestones and benchmarks to support the delivery of these and other essential foundation reforms.

The Select Council will report at COAG’s first meeting in 2012.