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Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Rudd Government continues monitoring of States and Territories disability accommodation program

The Rudd Government recognises the difficulties faced by the ageing carers of people with disabilities and the urgent need for secure accommodation for people with disabilities.

In 2008 the Rudd Government committed $100 million to the State and Territory Governments to build a total of 313 new places in Supported Accommodation Facilities to be completed by June 30, 2012.

This was part of record funding delivered to the States through the jointly-funded National Disability Agreement. The NDA will deliver an extra $1.9 billion, $1 billion from the Federal Government and $900 million from the States over five years.

The Federal Government’s contribution to state-run disability services will reach more than $1.25 billion a year by the end of the agreement in 2013. This compares to $620 million in 2007.

The State and Territory Governments are responsible for building the facilities funded by the $100 million, and each has agreed to a target to be delivered by 2012, and to report on progress every six months through the Community and Disability Services Ministers Advisory Council.

We expect the States and Territories to do what they agreed to do, and provide new accommodation facilities to ease the burden placed on ageing carers.

Many states have their own programs to increase the number of supported places available and we expect this funding to be used as an addition to funding the States and Territories have previously committed.

On behalf of Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin, I have written to the Disability Ministers of each State and Territory asking for an immediate update on progress towards their targets.

They will be asked to report back their progress as a priority, and to answer specifically:

  • The schedule for completion of new accommodation facilities for people with disabilities by states and territories applying the $100 million.
  • The exact location (street address and suburb) of facilities that have been promised by the states and territories.
  • The number (a) put out to tender and then (b) which have had design specifications approved.
  • the facilities that have been started and their likely date of completion,
  • Reconfirmation that the funding has increased the overall capacity of disability accommodation by the amount promised and has not been absorbed by previous State and Territory commitments.

Under the funding agreement the Federal Government has the power to request copies of all records pertaining to expenditure of capital works and the implementation and progress of the capital works projects.

Each jurisdiction is also required to provide an independently audited final acquittal report which verifies expenditure in accordance with the funding agreement.

We are confident that the States and Territories are committed to this program and our joint goal of reducing the number of people with disability waiting for accommodation.

The Rudd Government will continue to investigate new ways to fund disability and has asked the Productivity Commission to investigate the possibility of a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The Productivity Commission will examine a range of options for long-term care and support including consideration of whether a no-fault social insurance approach to disability is appropriate in Australia.