Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Disability advocates anxious about lack of de -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Disability advocates anxious about lack of detail
Sarah Dingle reported this story on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 12:25:00

ELEANOR HALL: Advocates of a National Disability Insurance Scheme say they're concerned that the Federal Government's mid-year economic review failed to mention how the scheme would be funded.

The planning for five launch sites for the scheme is already underway, but there's no indication yet of where the $7 billion per year to fund it will come from.

Sarah Dingle has our report.

SARAH DINGLE: It's been a year of hope for Australians with disabilities since both major parties pledged support for a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The Federal Government has set aside $1 billion for five launch sites, including the Hunter region in New South Wales.

Today dozens have turned up to a planning meeting for one of the launch sites in Newcastle, according to Ara Cresswell, the CEO of Carers Australia.

ARA CRESSWELL: There are about 150 people who've come to this forum today who really want to talk about a future National Disability Insurance Scheme. There's no question that all the way around the country, and it's certainly reflected here in the Hunter, people are saying the time has come.

SARAH DINGLE: But yesterday's Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook has dampened some of the enthusiasm. It made no mention of where the funding is going to come from for a fully fledged National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The outgoing CEO of Arts Access Australia, Kate Larsen, says the lack of commitment is devastating.

KATE LARSEN: I think you know the disappointment comes because we've had this incredibly year of hope, the NDIS being the most important first step that this country is going to take towards equality and full inclusion for people with disabilities and for it not to be included in those projections, it is a huge, is a huge blow.

SARAH DINGLE: The cost of a fully fledged NDIS is estimated at $14 billion per year, or double what is currently spent by state and federal governments.

Kate Larsen says the cost of an NDIS sounds big but the true price has been masked for years.

KATE LARSEN: From my point of view, and from a lot of other advocates' point of view, it's more about thinking about all of the money that they'll save from not adequately investing in a disability system over the last decade.

So all of that money that hasn't been invested that has meant we've been lagging behind and that has meant that we've condemned a whole section of our society to a lower standard of living.

SARAH DINGLE: Last year, a Productivity Commission report recommended the NDIS and its cost be phased in over five years.

Disability advocate Stella Young says there's no time to lose.

STELLA YOUNG: You would think that it would be one of the first things that they would get on to, you know, they've committed to the scheme but they're not committing the money. So it's just, it's just really disheartening and really disappointing.

SARAH DINGLE: She says the fact that the Federal Government rolled out the NDIS launch sites a year early doesn't fill her with confidence.

STELLA YOUNG: The launch sites being rolled out is great but in some ways it's not what the Productivity Commission recommended, it's a year earlier than that. There's a little bit of a feeling that people with disabilities in our families are again sort of being used as a political football.

And you know, rolling it out a year early, great, but rolling it out a year earlier without a solid plan for how we're going to fund it is not OK, it's too precarious and too scary.

SARAH DINGLE: The Finance Minister Penny Wong says there will be more detail on NDIS funding to come.

PENNY WONG: The Treasurer has made clear we'll have more to say about our approach on the National Disability Insurance Scheme at the next budget. We are very committed to this. We recognise we will require more hard decisions.

SARAH DINGLE: Advocates say they'll be putting pressure on community leaders around the country to support the NDIS at campaign events later this week.

ELEANOR HALL: Sarah Dingle reporting.