PM acts on the PC’s ‘other report’

Not only has the PC handed down its final report from its Disability Care and Support inquiry but the PM has endorsed the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme.

By Yasmin Noone

The 10th of August marks a significant day in the disability sector’s history.

Firstly, today is the day that the Productivity Commission (PC) made public it’s final report from its Disability Care and Support inquiry.

On display for the Australian public to see and media to report on are the 19 recommendations which the economic advisory body believe are essential to deliver adequate care to Australians currently living with a disability.

Quick to act on the issue which is said to have bipartisan support, today the Prime Minister announced that her government fully supported the creation of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), as recommended by the PC.

According to the final PC report, the scheme will provide all Australians with insurance for the costs of support if they or a family member acquire a disability.

It would include individually tailored care and support for around 410 000 people with significant disabilities.

Although the PM would not specifically commit to to any of the PC’s aged care inquiry recommendations, she publically stated that the Australian government would “start work immediately” with states and territories on measures that will build the foundations for a NDIS.

In fact, next month her government will establish a COAG Select Council of Ministers from the Commonwealth, states and territories to lead reform.

The PM also also promised to take steps to establish an Advisory Group to the Select Council, led by Dr Jeff Harmer (secretary of the department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs), to provide expert advice on delivering the foundations for reform and preparation for launch.

“The PC outlines the creation of these schemes would ensure that every Australian can have confidence that they will receive the care and support they need if they acquire or are born with a disability,” the PM said.

“However, the PC makes clear that important work needs to be done before further progress can be made – and we want to get that under way.

“While we have a lot of work to do before the government could determine the design of a scheme, we believe it is important that work begins now to lay the foundations for this reform.”

Gillard’s commitment also comes with some dollars –an immediate, additional $10 million, consistent with the PC recommendations, to support the technical policy work in creating a scheme.

The PC’s final report also recommended that a National Injury Insurance Scheme should be created to provide no fault insurance for anyone who suffers a catastrophic injury.

UnitingCare Australia welcomed today’s release of the PC report – the second this week in the social services sector.

“Together with the aged care announcement earlier this week, these reforms signal that the federal government is stepping up to the social challenges of our time,” national director of UnitingCare Australia, Lin Hatfield Dodds, said.
“We welcome the government’s intention to take this to COAG and make disability care and support a priority of all governments through a special select council on disability reform.

“The creation of an advisory committee, including experienced community representatives, is a demonstration of the partnerships needed for a better deal for people with disabilities.

“The expertise and commitment of communities and carers has built the momentum for this reform, and this experience will be essential for the successful design and implementation of the changes.”

The PC has proposed a seven-year timeline for the full implementation of the scheme, beginning with a trial in Victoria in 2014.

Over time, the scheme would then be widened to include the other states and territories.

“People with disabilities have struggled for long enough. It’s time for us to stand together as a community and say that we will no longer accept the unfair, rationing- and crisis-driven system we currently have.

“This scheme will change not only the lives and experiences of people with disabilities, but will make Australia a more equitable and just society.”

Aged care included

As part of the inquiry, the PC was directed to consider the implications of an insurance scheme upon the health and aged care systems.

It therefore recommended that upon reaching the Age Pension age (and at any time thereafter), a person formerly receiving an individualised package from the NDIS should be the given the choice of either staying with NDIS service arrangements or moving to the aged care system.

If they choose to stay with the NDIS services, their support arrangements would continue as before, including any arrangements with disability support organisations, their group accommodation, their local area coordinator and their use of self-directed funding.

Otherwise they would be governed by all of the support arrangements of the aged care system, including its processes (such as assessment and case management approaches).

“If a person over the Age Pension age requires long-term residential aged care then they should move into the aged care system to receive that support,” the report stated.

“The Australian government funding responsibility for the support of aged people using disability services should be along the lines specified in the National Health and Hospitals Network Agreement.

“In implementing this recommendation, a younger age threshold than the Age Pension age should apply to Indigenous people given their lower life expectancy, as is recognised under existing aged care arrangements.”

Tags: age-pension, aged-care, ageing, disability-care-and-support, national-disability-insurance-scheme, national-health-and-hospitals-network-agreement, prime-minister-julia-gillard, productivity-commission, unitingcare,

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