Bill Shorten will vow to take the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s wider economic benefits into account when assessing its viability in a departure from the former Coalition government.
In his first major speech since being sworn in as NDIS minister, Shorten will tell the Where to From Here conference on Wednesday that the $30 billion-a-year scheme should not be seen as “a single line-item” in the federal budget.
“My focus as the new minister for the NDIS is to improve the effectiveness of the NDIS,” Shorten says in a written speech seen by this masthead.
“If the NDIS is effective, there’s a huge return on our investment in years to come. Not only does this return include stronger meaningful social and economic connections for people with disabilities, there’s also a financial return to governments … including reducing health, employment, social security, housing and justice costs.”
Shorten says there is a “significant” opportunity to improve employment outcomes for people with autism, who are eight times more likely to be unemployed than the general population, through early intervention. People with autism make up just over a third of the scheme’s estimated 500,000 participants.
He says that when people talk about the NDIS “they often take a narrow view of sustainability”.
People With Disability president Samantha Connor, who will speak at the conference, said NDIS participants were tired of “constant rhetoric about sustainability” of the scheme without acknowledgement of its economic benefits.
“The NDIS is a worthwhile investment, not just into people with disability’s lives, but into Australia,” Connor said.
Progressive think tank Per Capita’s policy and research director, Matthew Lloyd-Cape, who will also speak at the conference, said every dollar invested in the NDIS delivered an economic benefit of $2.25.
This figure considered benefits including the hundreds of thousands of jobs created by the scheme in direct care and other roles, along with the ability of recipients and their carers to participate in employment.
“We have to account for both sides of the ledger,” Lloyd-Cape said. “When you spend the money into something like the NDIS, a lot of the money goes into wages, often for people on low incomes like disability support workers, and they spend money quickly. So all that money goes back into the economy.”
Shorten says the Labor government will focus on the “quality” of the spending rather than fixating on the dollar amount.
“We need to work with participants to identify ways to empower participants to find the most effective supports to achieve their agreed goals,” he says. “And we need to ensure that providers have incentives and support to achieve the goals of participants and the NDIS.”
Former National Disability Insurance Agency chair, professor Bruce Bonyhady, who was an architect of the scheme established by Labor in 2013 and critical of how it has been managed in the years since, will also speak at the conference.
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( Information from smh.com.au was used in this report. To Read More, click here )