Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Government supporting Australians with disability

Joint Media Release with:

  • Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

People with disability are going to be encouraged to participate in landmark reforms that will help the Rudd Government deliver lasting gains in this important area of policy.

The Government is investing $520,000 to involve people with disability, their families and carers in the Productivity Commission’s landmark inquiry into long-term care and support.

The inquiry is a key element of the Government’s National Disability Strategy, and the National Carer Strategy. The funding in this Budget will help involve as many people as possible in its consultation.

Disability and carer organisations will receive grants of up to $30,000 each that can be used to fund travel costs for participants to attend consultations or to engage a facilitator to gather views of their members, and prepare a submission to the Inquiry.

The first round of consultations will be held by the Productivity Commission in June and July this year, following the release of an issues paper, and a further second round of consultations will be held in April 2011.

The Budget also includes reforms to Special Disability Trusts which will increase flexibility for family members and carers who have the financial means to provide private financial provision for the future care and accommodation needs of a family member with severe disability.

These changes respond to the recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee on Special Disability Trusts, and will encourage more families to establish trusts.

From 1 January 2011, changes will be introduced so that:

  • People with disability will be able to work up to seven hours a week in the open labour market and still qualify as a beneficiary of a Trust;
  • The Trust will be able to pay for the beneficiary’s medical expenses, including membership costs for private health funds, and the maintenance expenses of assets and properties;
  • The Trust will be able to spend up to $10,000 in a financial year on discretionary items not related to care and accommodation needs of the beneficiary to support social and community participation of the beneficiary; and
  • In two years, the Government will undertake a review of the amount that can be held in the trust on a concessional basis, the amount that can be gifted, and who can request audits.

It is estimated that these changes will result in a 20 per cent increase in Special Disability Trusts, equivalent to 78 additional beneficiaries, at a cost of $1 million over four years.

The Rudd Government is delivering on its commitment to support people with disability, their families and carers, not only now but into the future.