COAG Disability Reform Council Communiqué
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Disability Reform Council (the Council) met today in Melbourne. The meeting was chaired by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, the Commonwealth Minister responsible for disability and aged care.
The Council welcomed Minister the Hon Coralee O’Rourke MP, Queensland Minister for Disability Services and Minister the Hon John Elferink, MLA, NT Minister for Disability Services to their first Council meeting.
Transition to Full Scheme
Governments confirmed the transition to full scheme National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will commence on 1 July 2016, in participating States and Territories. The scheme will be operating across New South Wales and South Australia by 1 July 2018, and across Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory by 1 July 2019.
In the Australian Capital Territory, all eligible participants are expected to transition to the NDIS by July 2016.
The Council acknowledged the transition from trial to full coverage of the NDIS will see a significant scale up, moving from around 30,000 participants in trial sites to an estimated 460,000 participants once all eligible participants are in the scheme.
In Western Australia (WA), the experience of the comparative trials of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) NDIS model and the NDIS My Way model is informing the operational planning for the future of NDIS in WA.
The outcomes of all trials across Australia will inform transition to full scheme.
Governments are working on detailed schedules of who will transition to the NDIS and when. This will include a mix of people already receiving support from a State, Territory and/or Commonwealth service, and people who are not already receiving supports.
The initial suggested approaches to participant phasing are:
New South Wales – staged geographical transition combined with a programmatic transfer of some cohorts, to be completed by July 2018;
Victoria – clients transitioning into the scheme by July 2019;
Queensland – clients transitioning to the scheme by July 2019;
South Australia – clients transitioning into the scheme by July 2018;
Tasmania – a state-wide approach of existing and new clients transitioning into the scheme by July 2019; and
Northern Territory – staged geographical transition by region to be completed by July 2019, subject to negotiations.
Information on transition timing and locations will be available by the end of August 2015.
Market and Workforce
The Council will publish, by the end of June 2015, a market and workforce development strategy to support participants and providers to be prepared for the NDIS.
This strategy will outline how governments, people with disability, the NDIA and the sector and workforce can work together to develop an NDIS market where people with disability exercise choice and control and have access to a full range of quality supports.
The strategy will centre on activities to:
- enable people with disability to plan and develop goals for a life they value and to exercise choice and control over their supports;
- develop a diverse and sustainable range of suppliers; and
- ensure there is a diverse and flexible workforce supply to support people with disability into the future.
Information Linkages and Capacity Building for the NDIS
Consultations on the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC, formerly tier 2) policy framework indicate that stakeholders are supportive of the introduction of the ILC Policy Framework (the framework), and are optimistic for the potential for ILC to support the economic and social participation of people with disability, their families and carers.
The consultations also suggest there are some areas of the framework which require clarification and which could be amended to better articulate the ILC policy. The Council has asked officials to incorporate these changes into the description of ILC and publish the revised policy framework on the NDIS website by the end of June 2015.
The NDIA will use the amended framework to inform implementation of the ILC component of the NDIS.
The Council also noted progress on other related policy matters as part of the transition to full scheme.
The role of housing in the NDIS
Ministers noted that the total budget for full scheme NDIS includes capital costs for specialist accommodation.
Some of these funds will need to support existing specialist accommodation supply.
The balance of funds will support people with disability requiring an integrated housing and support model to access housing and to enable the market to generate and leverage new and innovative specialist disability housing.
The Council has asked officials to work with the NDIA to support the development and testing of innovative accommodation pilots in trial sites that will help to expand the supply of appropriate and sustainable integrated housing and support models for people with disability. This may include existing, contemporary and/or innovative supports.
Initially this will focus on trial sites in which there are adequate funds to support meaningful activity in this area.
These pilots will start to provide us with evidence about how different models contribute to outcomes for participants.
It is very important that we take a measured approach to investment to ensure that the scheme is sustainable and can meet the needs of participants into the future.
Increasing the supply of specialist disability housing will be incremental. A small number of initial pilots can help us define a path forward for specialist housing options to support participants as the NDIS transitions to a national scheme.
The NDIS efforts in relation to specialist disability housing will be in addition to the ongoing mainstream housing effort of States and Territories.
The Council agreed that the NDIS will fund decision support, safeguard supports and capacity building for participants, including support to approach and interact with disability supports and access mainstream services.
The Council agreed that systemic advocacy and legal review and representation will be funded outside of the NDIS. A review of key policy directions and principles in the National Disability Advocacy Framework, in light of the NDIS, will be informed by targeted consultations from April to July 2015, with a final report to the Disability Reform Council by December 2015.
DisabilityCare Australia Fund
The Commonwealth noted COAG’s decision to consider the States and Territories’ request for flexibility in accessing the DisabilityCare Australia Fund ahead of transition agreements being finalised.
The Northern Territory expressed its desire to enter into discussions with the Commonwealth about the NDIS delivery model in the Northern Territory.