Media Release by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Delivering on our commitments for Australians with disability and their carers

The Abbott Government is delivering on its election commitments to support Australians with disability and their carers.

The Budget is part of the Government’s Economic Action Strategy to build a strong, prosperous economy and a safe, secure Australia.

The Abbott Government is honouring its election commitment to set up the Young Carer Bursary Programme, deliver the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and establish the Disability and Carers Industry Advisory Council.

The 2014-15 Budget delivers $3.0 million to fund the Abbott Government’s Young Carer Bursary Programme to provide support for young carers in Australia who look after people with disability, people with physical or mental health issues, or older people in need of care.

The responsibilities of young carers can have a significant impact on their personal life and education.

The Young Carer Bursary Programme will start in January 2015 and will help reduce the financial burden through around 150 bursaries annually that will allow them to continue their studies.

The Abbott Government is committed to delivering the NDIS. Once the NDIS is fully rolled out across Australia, it is expected to assist over 460,000 Australians with a permanent and significant disability.

New NDIS trials will begin in Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory from 1 July 2014, along with a trial of the Western Australian My Way programme, assisting around 14,000 people with permanent and significant disabilities over the trial period. This brings the total number of people with disability being assisted through the trial period to more than 35,000 (including the My Way programme).

The Government is determined to ensure the foundations for the scheme are sound and that the scheme is sustainable into the future.

The Government has also rectified an administrative error the previous government made, when the increased efficiency dividend was incorrectly applied to funded support under the NDIS and Sector Development Fund.

Correcting this error means that $44.9 million will not be lost and will go towards meeting the needs of people with disability.

The Government will also introduce changes to assist young people with disability to enter the workforce if they are able to do so.

From 1 July 2014, for certain Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients aged under 35 years, the Government will introduce compulsory work-focused activities, such as work experience or education and training, to help increase their chances of finding and keeping a job.

A targeted review will also be undertaken of DSP recipients aged under 35 years who originally accessed the payment under different rules between 2008 and 2011. Recipients will have their work capacity reassessed against the current impairment tables, and will be provided with support needed to allow them to develop their work capacity.

From 1 January 2015, recipients of the DSP who travel overseas for more than four weeks in a twelve month period will need to reapply for the payment. There will be some exemptions, for example, for people with terminal illness or permanent and severe disability and no future work capacity.

The Abbott Government is honouring its commitment to establish a new Disability and Carers Industry Advisory Council to provide innovative advice on how to improve the lives of people with disability and carers.

The council will bring together industry, the service sector, peak bodies, people with disability and carers to work closely with Government on policies affecting people with disability and ways to reduce red tape across the sector.

The Government is making decisions that repair the Budget, strengthen the economy and prepare Australia for the long term challenges before us.