DisabilityCare Australia, formerly known as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), is a healthcare program initiated by the Australian government for Australians with a disability. The bill was introduced into parliament in November 2012.
In July 2013 the first stage of DisabilityCare Australia commenced in South Australia, Tasmania, the Hunter Region in New South Wales and the Barwon area of Victoria, while the Australian Capital Territory will commence in July 2014.
The first stage will provide reasonable and necessary support for people with significant and permanent disability. In the first year of the launch this will include:
- about 3,000 people initially drawn from the NSW local government area of Newcastle
- about 1,500 children with disability in South Australia from birth to 5 years of age
- about 800 eligible young people aged 15 to 24 in Tasmania
- about 4,000 people in the Barwon area of Victoria including the local government areas of the City of Greater Geelong, the Colac-Otway Shire, the Borough of Queenscliffe and the Surf Coast Shire, and
- the ACT getting ready for launch to support 2,500 residents from July 2014.
The number of people assisted will rise to 20,000 people with disability by 2015. It has been recommended to increase participation to 410,000 however this figure remains uncertain.
According to a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, demand for disability aid in Australia has seen significant increases in recent years. Job services and community support were the services most in need.
The cost of DisabilityCare Australia was a point of contention at a time when the Federal Government insisted upon a return to surplus in the 2013 Australian federal budget. In 2010, the Productivity Commission estimated it would cost A$15 billion a year. Two years later a Government report revised that figure to $22 billion in 2018. According to the Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin, the program will effectively double the cost of supporting those with disabilities. A number of state disability ministers initially described the draft legislation for the NDIS as lacking flexibility and criticised it for being too prescriptive.
The first state to fully commit to funding for the scheme New South Wales on the 7 December 2012, with costs roughly divided between federal and state governments. Premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman wants the federal government to fully fund the scheme, arguing that the state cannot commit funds while the state's debt is high. On May 8, 2013, Campbell Newman signed the agreement in support of the program.
An agreement between Tasmania and the federal government was achieved on 2 May 2013. The state committed to $134 million of initial funding. The Northern Territory signed an agreement to join the scheme on 11 May 2013.
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- "WA last holdout on NDIS as NT signs up". The Australian (News Limited). 11 May 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2013.