In 2010, the Australian Government asked the Productivity Commission to recommend options for a national disability scheme that would “enhance the quality of life and increase economic and social participation for people with disability and their carers.”
The inquiry attracted more than 1,000 public submissions from the disability sector and from people with disability themselves.
These submissions were influential on the Productivity Commission’s findings.
The overwhelming preferences of people with disability across Australia – as shown through both the public submissions to the Productivity Commission inquiry and the New South Wales Government’s Living Life My Way consultations – was for a complete overhaul of the existing disability systems.
With an agreement between Australian and state governments in reach, and the passing of the NDIS Act 2013, trial sites were chosen around the country, which began operating in July 2013. In New South Wales, the trial site was set up in the Hunter region, making the National Disability Insurance Scheme available to eligible people with disability in the Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, and Maitland local government areas.
Reforms in New South Wales
Over the past decade, the New South Wales Government has undertaken a series of reforms to improve the way people with disability access services. These reforms helped pave the way for the introduction of the NDIS.
Stronger Together 2
In 2011, the Government committed $2 billion in new funding for disability services from 2011-12 through to 2015-16 under Stronger Together 2. This initiative is the second part of a ten-year plan, to provide greater assistance and long-term practical solutions for people with disability and their families.
Ready Together focused funding to deliver more flexibility, more choice and more control to people with disability. Ready Together is an important part of preparing New South Wales for the transition to the NDIS.
NDIS Hunter trial
New South Wales was the first state to sign up for the full scheme NDIS. A trial site was set up in the Hunter region on 1 July 2013, covering the local government areas of Newcastle, Maitland, and Lake Macquarie.
The trial site made a profound difference in the lives of around 7,000 people with disability in the Hunter (as at 31 March 2016), who now have control over their supports for the first time. The trial also informed the NDIS rollout across the rest of the state.
The Hunter moved to full-scheme on 1 July 2016, following the conclusion of the three-year trial on 30 June 2016.
New South Wales has also passed key legislation to support the NDIS implementation, including the NDIS NSW Enabling Act 2013 and the Disability Inclusion Act 2014.
The Enabling Act supports the transition to the NDIS and enables the transfer of services to the non-government sector. The Disability Inclusion Act provides safeguards, protects individual rights and promotes community inclusion.
Full Scheme Agreement
On 25 May 2018 the NSW Government and the Australian Government signed the NDIS Full Scheme agreement. The agreement ensures the full rollout of the NDIS in NSW – the first state to officially sign up to the full scheme.
It will deliver certainty on the long-term arrangements for the NDIS, and respresents an important step in ensuring the financial sustainability in the future.