Earlier this week, we marked two years since the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) commenced – a transformative scheme that people with disability have waited so long for. With the support of so many Australians – people with disability, their families, carers and advocates – the NDIS is now a reality. It is enshrined in law and it is fully funded into the future.
Now, thousands of people with disability, their families and carers, right across Australia, are for the first time ever getting the care and support they deserve. Over 13,610 NDIS participants have approved plans in place, supporting greater choice and control over their lives. The NDIS is being delivered on time and within budget. Satisfaction is high.
Everyone has worked hard to ensure participants and their families understand the changes and that service providers are able to meet the increased demand for support. Making sure the scheme could respond to these challenges quickly was the primary reason for the launch sites. I congratulate the National Disability Insurance Agency for all the work they have done to overcome these early challenges. They have been adaptive and responsive. Just as they should be.
If we are to ensure that the scheme can deliver all it has promised, we will need to continue to rise to meet these challenges.
Labor’s vision in designing the NDIS was simple – to maximise people’s independence, choice and control. For many people with disability, the increased support from the NDIS will mean they can move into their own home, or perhaps choose to live by themselves. However, to fully realise the potential of the NDIS, we need to address the chronic shortage of affordable and accessible housing options for people with disability.
Today, people with disability have very few housing options. The National Disability Insurance Agency estimates up to 122,000 NDIS participants could be left without access to affordable and accessible housing choices.
I know how very important it is for people with disability and their families to live in their own home, in safety with control and autonomy over who they live with and where. Having choice over where you live is central to the aim of the NDIS.
Earlier this week, I visited the Araluen Centre, a not for profit organisation in Eastern Melbourne that provides accommodation and day services for adults with intellectual disability. I was pleased to help launch Araluen’s new report ‘Models of Housing and Support’, showcasing a range of innovative accommodation options to help inform people’s choices.
At the launch, I heard from Adam and Michael, both young men living at home with their parents. When asked where they would like to be living, Adam said he would like to live by himself, in his own place. Michael would also like to move out of his parent’s house, and live with housemates. To be able to live by yourself or to choose to live with housemates – the aspiration of so many young people across Australia – is still too often a choice not available to people with disability. That needs to change.
Labor made sure there was funding available in the NDIS to help with costs associated with housing – around $700 million. Decisions are yet to be made about how this funding will be made available. The Government’s discussion paper on disability housing is long overdue. I know many people with disability, their families and service providers are anxious for the discussion paper to be released so they can contribute to disability housing policy decisions and make sure the housing shortage is addressed.
Labor is committed to working closely with organisations like Araluen, and people like Adam and Michael, their families and carers to make sure their choices become a reality. We will work to make sure the NDIS delivers all it can for people with disability.
This week, we say happy anniversary to the NDIS. Labor will continue to do all we can to see that the NDIS delivers on its promise for people with disability, their families and carers.