Thinking about the specifications of the national disability insurance scheme? It is a breath of fresh air to people of disabilities in Australia as it renders specific, customized and individualized support to meet their needs. Read till the end for an in-depth review of the scheme.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was introduced in Australia in 2013 to resolve the issues of the previous inadequate, fragmented, and underfunded service system for people with disabilities. There was no choice or control over the participant’s service in the old system, and the supports were not individualized and customized to the individual needs. In fact, an old one-size-fits-all model was followed that primarily served the organizations and the system.
The new system of disability support is a great start where the receivers are getting the support that matches their needs and future goals. The scheme is not aimed at the survival of the people with disabilities; it seeks to allow them more independence and opportunities to become active and productive members of society and the state.
The scheme is quite expensive, with a staggering bill to be managed with joint participation of the state and federal governments, but policymakers argue that it will eventually become even more profitable as the people with disabilities start playing their roles just like anyone else. Considering the important role of families in supporting members with a disability, the program also counts the carers and families in and provides adequate support for them too.
Read below for a detailed account of the scheme.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?
- 2 The aim of the NDIS
- 3 Eligibility for the NDIS
- 4 How NDIS determines your disability supports?
- 5 The cost of NDIS
- 6 Families and carers and your disability support plan
- 7 What is meant by ‘insurance scheme’?
- 8 What is the NDIS replacing?
- 9 How is the NDIS being funded?
- 10 How much control and choice does NDIS offer?
- 11 How will the NDIS ensure equitable access to support for Indigenous people?
- 12 Shortfall of NDIS
- 13 Conclusion
What is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is an Australian national program to provide support to people with disabilities. The program takes into account the welfare of the family and the carers as well. It is a joint effort of the Australian and participating state and territory governments. The NDIS renders support across Australia and has been operational since July 2016, except in Western Australia.
In Western Australia, NDIS will be introduced in July 2017, but it will mainly be state-operated but consistent with the national strategies.
The most evident component of the NDIS is individualized packages of support for all eligible people. The NDS is expected to render aid to some 460,000 Australians at its peak.
The NDIS is not limited to giving support; it helps people with disability to:
- access mainstream services, such as health, housing, and education
- access community services, such as sports clubs and libraries and
- maintain informal support, such as family and friends.
Unlike most other social welfare programs in Australia—such as Medicare, income support payments, and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme —the NDIS is not means-tested. There are no general governmental investigations to judge whether a person is really in dire need of support; instead, the program is an uncapped (demand-driven) scheme.
The aim of the NDIS
One look at the form and extent of disability support under the NDIS, and one knows it’s truly revolutionary. The NDIS is set to reshape the traditional way the disabled access the support they absolutely need to achieve their goals and enjoy life. The help in their case is indispensable; it’s not an optional governmental favor. If neglected, disabled people can not only become depressed, but they can become a burden on the economy. Rendering individualized support like NDIS can make them effective members of society.
The NDIS supports people with a permanent and significantly severe disability that can disrupt the normal functioning of life in case help is not given. NDIS support is not bundled up with economic support; it is an individualized package given out after a full assessment of the nature of the disability and what kind of help may make things easier and smoother, Swiffer for the disabled. This is done by systematically identifying what disability supports someone needs to help achieve their goals in life. It may be greater independence, health, wellbeing, education, employment, or even involvement in the community.
The NDIS enables the disabled; it gives them more control and choice over how, when, and where their supports are provided. This is very different from other disability support programs where the people with disabilities are not so central or in control.
Another great thing about NDIS is that it focuses on early intervention. Support is rendered early on so as to mitigate the impact of the disability on the child or a person. This allows for easy inclusion and blocking of further damage. The NDIS also considers the people with psychosocial disabilities; They can access their individualized support package under the program. A psychosocial disability is defined as people who suffer from significant and permanent functional impairments or mental health issues.
Eligibility for the NDIS
There is a particular criterion to meet to access the NDIS support and advantages. The eligibility conditions include:
- having a permanent and significant disability that hinders the ability to participate in everyday activities
- Joining the scheme before the age of 65 years at the first joining of the scheme
- It is necessary to be an Australian citizen, a permanent resident, or a citizen of New Zealand with a Protected Special Category Visa
- A resident of an NDIS area
How NDIS determines your disability supports?
Your disabilities will be determined by working with you directly and your family. The impact of the disability on your life will be assessed in addition to the way it hinders you from participating in daily life activities. A specially and specifically tailored program will be developed to help you with your particular needs and smooth the way for a normal functioning you.
You will be asked about your goals in life and how you want to see yourself in the coming years. NDIS helps people with disabilities live up to their full potential and become active members of society. You will be given the support you need to maximize your potential, be it independence, monetary support, education, health, etc. The NDIS clears the path to success for those who have natural hurdles.
NDIS guarantees continuous and consistent support and takes out the element of uncertainty. This helps make people feel secure and more confident about their goals. As your needs change over time, the funding plan can be adjusted to match new requirements.
To be funded, these supports must:
- be related to your disability
- be likely to be effective and beneficial
- not everyday living costs and are not your disability support needs
- take into account informal supports provided by families, carers, networks, or the community
- Have value for the money spent.
Supports may be funded in areas such as education, employment, social participation, independence, living arrangements, and health and wellbeing. They may include funding for:
- daily personal activities like transport to enable participation in the community, social, economic, and everyday life activities
- workplace help to allow a participant to successfully get or keep employment in the open or supported labor market
- therapeutic supports, including behavior support
- help with household tasks to enable the participant to maintain their home environment
- help by skilled personnel in arranging aids or equipment assessment, set up and training
- home modification design and construction
- mobility equipment and
- vehicle modifications.
The cost of NDIS
Since the NDIS is being introduced gradually and progressively, the cost is expected to increase substantially in the coming years as the number of beneficiaries increases. It can go from around $4.2 billion in 2016–17 to $21.6 billion in 2019–20. However, all of this funding is not coming from the Australian government only; The Australian government is responsible for just over half ($11.2 billion) of the annual cost of the scheme.
It is evident that NDIS will be a costly program for the government, and there are some doubts about its efficacy. However, the Productivity Commission argues that though the NDIS seems like a cost to the government, it will not be a cost to the economy. In its 2011 recommendation for the introduction of the NDIS, it suggested that the benefits of the NDIS would outweigh the costs and add almost 1.0 percent to Australia’s GDP.
Families and carers and your disability support plan
The NDIA will not leave the carers and families while catering to the needs of the people with disabilities. The people with disabilities essentially need their family nests, and those taking care of them suffer alongside them. The plan is comprehensive enough to acknowledge and meet the needs of the families and carers of the people with disabilities.
The role of the carers and families is of great importance in anyone’s life, and it’s especially true when it comes to people with disabilities. The government will look into supporting the carers and families of the people with disabilities. When the assessment of carers and families start, the agencies will assess the support your carer(s) provide, their other responsibilities, and their own life plans. With the receiver’s consent, this will be done in consultation with the family and carers, recognizing the value of their views, knowledge, and experience.
What is meant by ‘insurance scheme’?
According to Bruce Bonyhady, former Chairman of the NDIA, the insurance approach is different from the welfare approach at the base of all disability policies. According to the welfare approach, the government plans out programs and financial assistance for a 12-month or five-year term, and the amount of assistance changes with taxes, revenues, and the general condition of the economy. In contrast, as per the new insurance approach, expenditure is considered over an individual’s life – and scheme sustainability is calculated by accounting for the total future costs of the insured members.
This creates an incentive to make quick bursts of short-term investments in participants to increase their participation in the community and the workforce and reduce the long-term costs as the individuals become active, working members.
According to Bonyhady, The new insurance scheme for people with disability focuses on reducing the costs in the long term by enabling the insured in various capacities, and it also creates an incentive to calculate the performance of the scheme over a period of time,
What is the NDIS replacing?
The NDIS is disrupting the existing system of disability care and support provided under the National Disability Agreement (NDA). The Australian government and territories are already providing disability services to the people, and the Australian and territory governments must also employ people with disabilities.
State and territory governments are responsible for specialist disability services as well that aim to provide support, safety care, support, community access, and advocacy and information for people with disability.
In 2011, the Productivity Commission recommended that the existing system be replaced with a unified, single national scheme to fund long-term, individualized, high-quality care and support for all those Australians who are barred by their abilities. The program built on this recommendation is what we now know as the NDIS. The commission described the existing system as ‘unfair, underfunded, fragmented, and inefficient. It was argued that it left people with a disability with minimal choice and control, and there is no certainty of access to appropriate support.
Basically, the NDIS is working along with the disability programs that are currently followed in the Western world, where the people with disabilities have more control over the support provided to them. NDIS is replacing an inefficient system that rendered basic support but did not work towards making the people independent and active members of the community and economy.
The individualized support system aims to give the insured more independence and enable them to have dreams and find ways to live according to their dreams. People with disabilities are given specific support and not a generalized bundle. Participants are now asked about their aspirations, their needs, and the kind of support they would like to reach their life goals. This is the start of a great program that has the potential to bring happiness and contentment to many.
How is the NDIS being funded?
Funding for disability is always complicated, with blame and debate rolling between the territories and state governments. Amid so much confusion and blame game, things always seemed uncertain. NDIS has replaced the uncertainty with a long-term guaranteed disability support system that is put in place to stay. According to the Productivity Commission, the present system of funding ( shared between state and federal governments ) always seem to be swaying with budgets and economic downturns, etc.
According to the Commission, the government should finance the entire costs of the NDIS so that uncertainties and application gaps are taken care of.
At the moment, a joint funding method is working between the territory governments and the state governments. Unlike the proposed schemes of funding by the Productivity Commission, the budget is an intergovernmental matter between the participating governments.
The funding from parties comes from different sources, complicating the matter. According to a bilateral agreement with Western Australia, the WA government is solely responsible for financing the administration and operating costs of the NIDS.
The disability funding that had already been allocated to various welfare schemes is being redirected under different agreements to the NDIS, filling the gaps instantly.
How much control and choice does NDIS offer?
The NDIS is quite unlike the previous disability welfare schemes; The scheme is based on individualized support packages tailored to the person’s exact needs and aspirations.
Choice and control are the most notable features of the scheme. It is a great new beginning for people with disabilities whose support packages were underfunded and came without flexibility. The support packages were created according to the benefits of organizations and the system. There was usually no place for the choices and aspirations of those with a disability. NDIS has changed that by allowing more control and choice to the receiver.
People with disabilities can now decide where and how they would like to spend; they can determine what kind of assistance they need to make them active, participating community members.
But what might happen if NDIS users want to purchase very different services? Would politicians have the courage to stand up to backlash caused if people with disability used their care money to pay for overseas holidays, sex workers, internet dating subscriptions, or tickets to sporting events? Such controls are allowed in the Western world; we have to see if that level of choice and control is rendered to those living in Australia.
How will the NDIS ensure equitable access to support for Indigenous people?
The indigenous people are an important factor to consider in any and all schemes. What makes it a little complicated is that the indigenous people are very different from their mainstream counterparts. There are massive, almost impossible language and cultural differences to cater to, not to forget the mighty distances deep into the deserts that make delivery of services a task to reckon with.
Welfare services already in place for Australians were quite inadequate for even the mainstream Aussies, but they posed extra challenges for the indigenous people. The language barrier complicated things quite a bit, and it was difficult for the carer and the receiver to bond with those impossible differences.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) lets Australians with a disability say which agencies or people they would like to work with to help achieve their goals.
For Indigenous people, there is a lot of ease in this scheme. For instance, if an NDIS aid receiver is not easy and comfortable with a support worker or an agency, there is no need to sulk to the end of the tenure. They can simply withdraw their money and hire another agency for the support they want.
The growing Indigenous disability rights movement has made the indigenous concerns quite obvious, and the involvement of these unheard voices definitely made a difference during the planning and development of this program. However, there is a lot of room for development, and there are still many concerns that never made it to the front.
Shortfall of NDIS
Currently, the indigenous representation in the NDIS is around 5% of the population, but it is thought to be widely unrepresentative of the reality. A considerable number of the indigenous with disabilities never get help because of access issues.
Access may be at the heart of the underrepresentation of the indigenous people, but that does not mean accessibility is the only issue. Quite a few issues related to the lack of trust in the schemes, the way these communities conceptualize disabilities, and a lack of community connections.
The indigenous people usually stay away from disability supports because of the cultural stigma attached to these aids.
These people have a highly positive and survivalist approach, focusing on the strengths and not the weaknesses. Weakness is not supported in these communities. The official definition of disability following the clinical deficit model does not match the cultural definitions of the indigenous. Hence, the mistrust which adversely affects the representation of the indigenous NDIS.
The indigenous communities in Australia are isolated communities, and their ability to communicate in English is not highly rated. English is usually the second and even third language, and that means communication is a huge issue here. These people face hurdles while understanding and conceptualizing the support system offered under the welfare scheme. Double it up with mistrust, and we know why there is very little aboriginal representation.
Self-management ability of the individualized packages is also questionable when the indigenous cannot speak and sometimes even comprehend the English language. In addition, a lot of market knowledge and bookkeeping is required for the self-management of disability aid programs, and the indigenous people do not have these skills. The best thing to do to increase indigenous participation is to give culturally responsive training and support programs to those who would like to manage their packages independently.
NDIS- National Disability Insurance Scheme is a revolutionary scheme that seeks to enable the people with disabilities and not just render a one-size-fits-all type of financial support. The scheme seeks to render individualized and specifically tailored support to the participants- support that they think is necessary to reach their goals. The scheme is ideal as it has ruled out the uncertainty that always clouded the disability supports in Australia. However, some shortcomings need to be taken care of, and funding issues require effective and timely resolution.