People with Disability Australia (PWDA) welcomes the Treasurer’s assurance that ‘the NDIS is here to stay’ in his budget speech. However, tonight’s budget has more to do on housing and economic security measures that would bring comfort to the disability community.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to work with the disability community in implementing the new NDIS initiatives funded in tonight’s budget,” said PWDA President Nicole Lee. “Following recent concerns, we’re buoyed that the 8% growth target for the NDIS is a target and not a cap, and that the NDIS will remain demand driven,” said Ms Lee.
“However, it is important that the community is given an ongoing commitment that their choice and control over access to essential supports is protected,” continued Ms Lee.
“People with disability fought hard for essential supports from the NDIS. To maintain and build stronger trust, it’s crucial the government delivers essential supports in a demand driven way,” she said.
The investment of over $910 million over 4 years to improve the operations of the NDIA and NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission is a good start. “We want to see the NDIS run well so it continues to produce life-changing outcomes for people with disability and is sustainable for future generations,” said PWDA Deputy CEO, Carolyn Hodge.
In particular, PWDA welcomes the increased investment in safeguarding with $142.6 million earmarked for NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. “Too often we see people with disability pay the price for low-quality or unsafe services and this needs to change,” said Ms Hodge.
Additionally, PWDA welcomes the $14.1 million over two years for COVID-19 Payments.
“Ensuring workers supporting people with disability will have access to financial support if they contract COVID-19 and don’t have leave entitlements, will be key to reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection for people with disability,” said Ms Hodge.
“COVID-19 is far from over for people with disability, who continue to remain at significant risk,” continued Ms Lee.
While we welcome the $40 a fortnight increase to JobSeeker and other related payments; and the $31 per fortnight increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance, the government has more to do to provide housing and economic security for people with disability.
“Increases to JobSeeker are really important and will make a difference to people with disability, especially with many people unable to access the Disability Support Pension,” said Ms Hodge. “After the NDIS, housing is the number one issue that people with disability contact our individual advocacy services about.”
“While these increases are welcome, we need to put the $31 per fortnight rise in the context of huge housing cost increases that show no signs of slowing,” she said.
While PWDA welcomes the government’s $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund in tonight’s budget, despite people with disability benefiting from significant investment in social and affordable housing, targeted sustainable measures needed to be in the budget to ensure people with disability didn’t fall behind in the housing crisis.
“A dedicated national housing plan for people with disability is what we called for in tonight’s budget. This plan would have ensured the disability community remained in focus,” said Ms Hodge.
“Inaccessible housing is a long-lasting issue on top of the unaffordability of housing, so measures through a national housing plan for people with disability would have addressed accessibility and affordability barriers,” said Ms Lee.
PWDA also welcomes the support for victim-survivors of domestic and family violence, following changes to the assessments of whether a person is a member of a couple for social security purposes,” said Ms Lee. “People with disability are far more likely to be subject to violence, and these new changes will make it easier to escape violence.”