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“The NDIS is the right thing to do”: Industry leaders warn of the impact of cost cutting

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is pumping $52 billion dollars into the Australian economy every year, according to new independent research by thinktank, Per Capita; flipping concerns that the scheme is a money drain on its head.

“We have been concerned to see the focus change over the past year from the benefits of the scheme to the cost, with ongoing attempts to restrict access to the scheme and reducing supports available,” National Disability Services (NDS) President Rohan Braddy says.

The Per Capita analysis is driving the peak industry body’s election campaign, which highlights the economic, social and employment benefits of the scheme.

Data from 2020 to 2021 alone shows 270,000 workers delivered support for almost half a million vulnerable Australians.

But the NDS and its providers say any cuts to the scheme, which are already being seen, will seriously impact not only those relying on services to live their life, but also the wider economy.

For every billion dollars the government underspend, the modelling shows a loss of around 10,000 jobs.

“We are hearing of many people we support are having their plans cut, while providers are seeing constant pressure to reduce the levels of support we provide under the NDIS,” Braddy says.

A sentiment echoed by disability service providers, who are seeing firsthand, the impact these cost cuts are having on their participants.

“Trust in the NDIA by the sector is very low at the moment, especially after the recent push for Independent Assessments to be implemented,” Phil Hayes-Brown says, the CEO of Wallara, “there are so many consultations going on about changes to the Act or the Scheme, it’s head-spinning, especially with Covid, and these things are too important to be rushed.”

The NDS is seeking a bipartisan commitment to the continued funding of the scheme.

“We will be seeking a commitment from all candidates in the upcoming election to keep the NDIS strong and reject calls for cuts to access and supports,” Braddy says.

Wallara CEO, Phil Hayes-Brown, has a daughter in the scheme so is personally invested in the success of those living with a disability.

“The NDIS is the right thing to do and this modelling shows it’s actually a benefit to the entire economy, not a drain. Let’s start thinking about the NDIS in the same way we think of investment in other infrastructure – it drives growth, jobs and it enables the almost 500,000 participants in the NDIS to regular life.” Hayes-Brown says.

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