Government amendments to NDIS Bill
The Gillard Government is today introducing amendments to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Bill, that respond to feedback from extensive consultations with people with disability, their families and carers, and with states and territories.
The NDIS will provide peace of mind to people with a disability, their families and carers, and to Australians who may in the future acquire a significant and permanent disability.
The NDIS will give people with disability choice and control over the care and support they receive, rather than exposing them to the cruel lottery that currently exists.
The Government’s amendments also respond directly to submissions made to the inquiry by the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee, which will table its report this week.
Key amendments include:
- Elevating the importance of certain obligations that Australia has as a party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and explicitly recognising the broader context for disability reform. This ensures that the rights of people with disability, their families and carers are at the heart of the NDIS.
- Clarification that people who need early intervention therapies and supports, including for degenerative conditions, and who are not better supported by another systems such as the health care system, can access the NDIS.
- Clarification that all people who are NDIS participants will be able to choose to remain in the scheme after they turn 65.
- Changes to the compensation provisions so that the NDIS Launch Transition Agency (the Agency) can conduct legal proceedings on behalf of a person with disability who does not choose to conduct those proceedings.
- Ensuring the NDIS Board receives and considers actuarial advice, helping to safeguard the financial sustainability of the NDIS.
The Government will also establish an NDIS division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and an independent expert panel to advise the Agency’s merits review process.
This will ensure that people with disability are supported to have their plans reviewed and that reviews will be conducted by people with expertise and understanding of needs of people with disability, their families and carers.
To ensure that these review arrangements are working for people with disability, they will be reviewed two years after the launch commences.
Interface with the aged care system
The Productivity Commission recommended an age-65 threshold for entry to the NDIS, on the basis that people should get the care they need in the aged care and the disability care systems and that there should not be duplication between the two.
The Government has accepted this advice. Our $3.7 billion Living Longer Living Better aged care reform plan will deliver more choice, easier access and better care for older Australians and their families.
The NDIS will complement the aged care system to ensure we are delivering a cohesive system that gives people with disability, older people, their families and carers the support they need.
Following consultation with stakeholders in the aged care and disability sectors, the Government’s amendments make clear that people with degenerative conditions who are under the age of 65 can enter the NDIS, and that people who are NDIS participants will be able to choose to remain in the scheme after they turn 65.
For example, someone with a condition such as Multiple Sclerosis could benefit from early investments under the NDIS before they turn 65 that will help lessen the future impacts of their condition and improve their quality of life.
Existing services for older Australians, such as hearing and vision services, that complement the assistance available through aged care will also continue to provide supports to people who develop a disability after age 65.
Amendments today also clarify that all NDIS participants will be able to choose whether to continue to receive support under the NDIS after they turn 65.
The amendments introduced today will also change the compensation provisions to allow the NDIS Launch Transition Agency to take action to claim compensation on behalf of a person with disability.
This could apply where harm may have been caused by the negligence of a company and the costs arising from that harm should be borne by the company and not by the taxpayer.
If the Agency takes action or takes over proceedings, any damages awarded for pain and suffering or future earnings would be returned to the person with disability. The Agency would be able to recoup NDIS amounts which had been paid for care and support, and incidental costs.
The Government will seek the support of the Opposition, Greens and Independents to pass the Bill through the House of Representatives this week and the Senate next week.
We are working hard to deliver this major reform so that people with disability can start getting the care and support they have been calling for.
We will continue to work closely with people with disability, their families, carers and service providers as we build the NDIS.