National Disability Insurance Scheme

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The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a social reform in Australia initiated by the Australian government for Australians with a disability. The bill was introduced into parliament in November 2012.[1]

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 commenced in July 2014. NDIS was rolled out nationally on 1 July 2016.[2]


During the 1970s, care of people with a disability in Australia shifted from institutionalisation to being cared for in the community.[2] In 1974, Gough Whitlam proposed a national disability insurance scheme like the scheme offered in New Zealand. It has been suggested that Treasurer Bill Hayden convinced Whitlam to focus on the introduction of Medicare instead.[3]

In 2006, Bruce Bonyhady, chair of Yooralla, met with former Labor cabinet minister Brian Howe, who put him in touch with a group of people who became known as the Disability Investment Group. The Disability Investment Group made an independent submission to the Australia 2020 Summit in 2008. They then sent their recommendations to the Productivity Commission.[4] The Productivity Commission released its report in 2011.[5] Research by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2011 found that by approximately 2025, the cost of maintaining the status quo would be greater than the cost of the NDIS.[6] In 2011, the Council of Australian Governments agreed that the disability sector in Australia needed reform.[7]

The bill was introduced into parliament in November 2012.[1][8] It was passed in March 2013.[7] At the same time, the NDIS was renamed DisabilityCare Australia.[9] The 2013 Australian federal budget committed $14.3 billion to DisabilityCare, to be paid for by increasing the Medicare levy by 0.5%.[10] As of May 2013, it was estimated that the disability sector in Australia would need to double to meet the needs of DisabilityCare Australia.[11] The first part of the scheme rolled out on 1 July 2013.[12] The Medicare levy increased from 1.5% to 2% on 1 July 2014, to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.[13]

In the first nine months of the scheme, 5,400 people with disability accessed a NDIS plan.[6]

The 2016 Australian federal budget attempted to make savings of $2.1 billion for the NDIS fund from re-assessing Disability Support Pension recipients' capacity to work, and cutting compensation for the carbon pricing scheme.[14] This including the scrapping of an ad campaign letting people know about the NDIS.[15] Peak disability group People with Disability Australia expressed concerns that the NDIS would become a political football.[16] The National Disability Insurance Scheme was rolled out nationally on 1 July 2016.[2]


The first stage will provide reasonable and necessary[17] 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.[18]

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.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21]

The first state to fully commit to funding for the scheme was New South Wales on the 7 December 2012, with costs roughly divided between federal and state governments.[22] The Premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman wanted the federal government to fully fund the scheme,[23] arguing that the state cannot commit funds while the state's debt was high. On 8 May 2013, Campbell Newman signed the agreement in support of the program.[24]

An agreement between Tasmania and the federal government was achieved on 2 May 2013. The state committed to $134 million of initial funding.[25] The Northern Territory signed an agreement to join the scheme on 11 May 2013.[26] From the 1 July 2014 the Medicare levy rose from 1.5 % to 2 % help fund the scheme.[27]


  1. ^ a b "PM introduces NDIS bill to parliament". Herald Sun. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Paul Ramcharan (2016-07-01). "Understanding the NDIS: a history of disability welfare from 'deserving poor' to consumers in control". Retrieved 2016-07-08. 
  3. ^ Donna McDonald (2013-05-20). "DisabilityCare now a reality but how can we protect its future?". Retrieved 2016-07-08. 
  4. ^ "2011: Bruce Bonyhady, NDIS campaigner". The Australian. 21 September 2013. Retrieved 2016-07-08. 
  5. ^ "Inquiry report - Disability Care and Support Productivity Commission". 2011-08-10. Retrieved 2016-07-08. 
  6. ^ a b Progress report on the implementation and administration of the National Disability Insurance Scheme - Executive Summary. 29 July 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Our history". NDIS. Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  8. ^ "National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill 2012". Retrieved 2016-07-08. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Medicare levy increase to fund DisabilityCare Australia". Retrieved 28 February 2015. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "National Disability Insurance Scheme - What are reasonable and necessary supports? | National Disability Insurance Scheme". 2014-12-03. Retrieved 2016-07-08. 
  18. ^ "Cruel Insulting Statistics: CIS Gets the NDIS Wrong". Media Release. Australian Federation of Disability Organisations. 15 November 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  19. ^ "Demand for disability aid increases". The Australian. News Limited. 21 September 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  20. ^ Lisa Whitehead (16 November 2012). "Claims of blowout in disability insurance scheme". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  21. ^ Lisa Martin (21 November 2012). "States react to federal NDIS draft bill". News Limited. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  22. ^ Simon Cullen (7 December 2012). "Feds, NSW strike deal on disability scheme". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  23. ^ Koren Helbig (4 December 2012). "Gillard urges Queenslanders to sign up state for disability reforms". Herald Sun. News Limited. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  24. ^ Ava Benny-Morrison (8 May 2013). "Qld joins other states in support of Gillard Govt's NDIS". Sunshine Coast Daily. APN News & Media. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  25. ^ "Tasmania signs on to disability scheme". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  26. ^ "WA last holdout on NDIS as NT signs up". The Australian. News Limited. 11 May 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  27. ^ Emma Griffiths (1 July 2014). "Federal budget feels pain as savings measures slated for July 1 delayed by Senate". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 1 July 2014. 

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