Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Commonwealth puts extra disability funding on the table

The Commonwealth recognizes the need for increased accommodation services and is determined to see this need catered for.

The CSTDA streamlines management and administration responsibility with the Commonwealth looking after employment services and the States, other specialist services, and in particular accommodation.

We accept that funding under the CSTDA is a shared responsibility.

In the past, we have funded 100% of employment services and the States have only had to meet 80% of accommodation, with the Commonwealth picking up the remaining 20%

In addition, the Commonwealth fully meets income support costs, which is a further cross subsidy of accommodation because services charge up to 80% of a pensioners DSP. We have increased DSP by linking it to Male Total Average Weekly Earnings which has meant an increase of 5.7% over and above CPI since 1998. Income support for people with disabilities is worth around $8.3 billion per year.

In addition, many services managed by the States charge for transport to and from services which is often paid for out of the Commonwealth’s Mobility Allowance.

We put growth into the last CSTDA that was not consistently matched by the States. We recognize further need, especially in accommodation. We have today offered to put our 20% share on the table. We have offered an additional $125 million over five years ($15 million in the first year, $20 million in the second, $25 million in the third, $30 million in the fourth and an extra $35 million in the fifth year). This new money would be shared between the States on a formula to be agreed by them.

Clearly, we expect the States to put in their share, which would be $500 million. States or Territories that are not prepared to meet their share will not get the additional funding.

If the States live up to their responsibilities, there would an additional $625 million for accommodation.

The only way the Commonwealth can use its power to make the States put in their proper share to accommodation is to offer funds on a matched basis. We are determined to ensure that the States shift to a long-term commitment to disability funding, as the Commonwealth has for the last ten years.

The Commonwealth’s offer would mean that in the first year of the new Agreement, there would be a 6% increase in funding available to the States for accommodation. That would be made up of the $15 million first year additional funds (3%), plus other indexation and supplementation of 3%.

The Commonwealth is committed to a new five year Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement – one which makes a real difference for people with disabilities.

In total we will be contributing over $4.7 billion over the next 5 years. Which includes the $547.5m unmet need funding and an increase of 10.26% every year in the Commonwealth’s employment responsibilities.

In addition, the Commonwealth entirely funds income support for people with disabilities and carers.

What have the States offered? Most States refuse to commit anything after next year and will not tell anyone what growth or indexation they will provide in the future.

Most States have simply not kept pace with Commonwealth’s funding offers in the past.

The best State or Territory Ministers could do is to note the Commonwealth’s offer.

I hope that the States and Territories accept this offer and put in their fair share to increase disability accommodation.