Will the NDIS turn into a race to the bottom?


The Commonwealth Government quickly accepted many of the Productivity Commission's findings on Disability Care and Support (see http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/disability-support/report). Members of the Government said:

Gillard: "the Productivity Commission came back and found that the current system is unfair, it’s underfunded and it’s fragmented, and they certainly very powerfully make the case that at the moment access to services is a very cruel lottery: it depends where you live; it depends on the kind of disability you have; and it depends how you got that disability - a very cruel lottery with too many Australians missing out on the basic services that they need."

Macklin: "this is the day we started to transform the care and support of people with disability to make a difference to their lives"

Macklin: "a day for you to celebrate the time when Australia finally recognises that we can do what needs to be done to deliver for people with a disability and their carers"

Shorten: "the status quo is irretrievably broken and that the future has to be very different to the past"

There needs to be a degree of caution in the implementation. Recent "history" shows good intention easily go wrong. For example, a review of expenditure on Australia's indigenous people (see http://www.finance.gov.au/foi/disclosure-log/2011/docs/foi_10-27_strateg...) said

In the Indigenous area, more than any other, there has been a huge gap between policy intent and policy execution, with numerous examples of well-intentioned policies and programs which have failed to produce their intended results because of serious flaws in implementation and delivery.

It may not be true that the gap between policy intent and results is bigger in the "indigenous area" than it is for people with a disability, or people with autism spectrum disorders (see http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/ProductDocumentCollection?OpenAgent&productno=4428.0&issue=2009).

The same Governments, and departments in those Governments, are involved in reforming the disability sector. There is a strong possibility that disability programs will fail as spectacularly as the indigenous program before them.

Vigilance is needed to ensure the Governments achieve the intended outcomes for people with a disability. Or will the administration of this crucial program fail to deliver; turning it into a race to spend as much of the allocated money as possible without improving substantially the lives of people with a disability and their carers?

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