Media Release by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

COAG Disability Reform Council Communiqu?

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.

Transition to Full Scheme

All governments reaffirmed their commitment to ensure the transition to the full scheme roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is achieved, consistent with the timeframes and funding arrangements set out in the Heads of Agreements already signed between the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments.

The Council noted the work undertaken by the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments, in consultation with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), to develop approaches to transition taking into account local circumstances of each jurisdiction and promoting the best possible outcomes for people with disability. All governments are identifying practical actions required to support participants, providers and the market as well as to develop the workforce during the transition to full scheme.

Negotiations are underway on the approach to transition in each jurisdiction and the phasing in of clients, with agreements expected to be finalised bilaterally between relevant governments.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) transition is already underway with all eligible participants in the scheme in 2016.

In Western Australia, experience with the comparative trial of the NDIA and My Way models is informing work on the future roll out of the NDIS. WA NDIS My Way is demonstrating positive outcomes and key features of this model may have benefits for the roll out of NDIS in other jurisdictions.

The Council noted that work is underway to develop the form and content of operational plans by June 2015. These plans will detail key implementation arrangements for each jurisdiction, and will focus on the preparations required by all parties to ensure the NDIS is successfully implemented consistent with transition agreements.

Policy Frameworks

Ministers noted progress related to a range of supporting policy matters as part of the transition to full scheme.

The Council noted that consultations have commenced with stakeholders on the policy framework for the provision of NDIS information, linkages and capacity building (ILC) supports for people with disability, their families and carers. Investment in ILC supports such as community education and practical assistance will sustain and strengthen informal care, and increase access to other services, to enable people with disability, their families and carers to meet their goals and needs.

The Council also noted that work is underway on the development of an Integrated NDIS Market, Sector and Workforce Strategy with tangible actions agreed between the Commonwealth, jurisdictions and the NDIA, to ensure providers of support are ready, and a high-quality workforce is in place, as the sector expands during the transition to full scheme. The Council will consider a final strategy and plan in April 2015.

The Council was updated on work to resolve housing policy issues related to NDIS, including the scope of responsibility to support the housing needs of participants. Ministers noted this policy work is being progressed concurrently with the review of the interaction of the NDIS and mainstream services, and that both processes will report to the Council in April 2015. The Council noted the importance of resolving the interaction of the NDIS and jurisdictional housing strategies in the process of meeting the needs of participants.

Ministers also considered analysis from the NDIA which provided a breakdown of the components of high cost packages in line with the Council’s ongoing commitment to monitoring the financial sustainability of the scheme. The report reassured the Council that the proportion of participants in receipt of high-cost packages is consistent with the expected distribution of package costs.

National Disability Strategy

The Council agreed that the first two-yearly report on progress under the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 (NDS) be provided to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). The NDS sets out a policy framework for improving the lives of Australians with disability, their families and carers, and represents a commitment by all levels of government, industry and the community to a unified, national approach to disability policy and programme development. The report to COAG highlights outcomes and achievements under the NDS for a more inclusive Australia.

Inaugural Disability Ministers’ National Forum

Ministers noted that the inaugural Disability Ministers’ National Forum would be occurring in the afternoon following the Council meeting in Melbourne. This would provide the opportunity for Ministers to meet with representatives of people with disability from across Australia to exchange views on progress towards meeting the outcomes agreed in the NDS.

The Council noted that the new Queensland Government has not had the opportunity to consider matters dealt with at the meeting today.