You'd be forgiven for thinking that nothing announced in the 2018-19 Budget on Tuesday night related to disability at all. There was scarcely a mention of people with disability in the Treasurer's speech, let alone in the media coverage. He did, however, commit to the full funding of the NDIS over the next four years:
“Every dollar and every cent committed to delivering the National Disability Insurance Scheme remains in place and always will,” Mr Morrison said in his speech to the House of Representatives.
This line was included to quell the steady growth of anxiety in the Disability sector, which has been circling since the Coalition took power. Many people have been worried that the Coalition, in its quest for savings to the budget, could target the NDIS.
This is a reasonable fear given the Coalition's initial hesitancy to support the NDIS when it was proposed under the previous Labor government. In 2012, Liberal leader Tony Abbott said that the NDIS would not be fully implemented "until the budget returns to strong surplus."
This anxiety reached a tipping point in the last week when, in the lead up to the budget, the government announced that it was scrapping the plan to increase the Medicare levy by 0.5% in order to fund the NDIS. This led many to believe there was going to be an associated cut in funding for the Scheme.
Now that funding has been secured, disability advocates are switching their attention to fixing the problems with the NDIS rollout, and holding the government to their word.
“We’re going to be eternally vigilant to make sure that this government and any future governments honour their commitment to funding the NDIS and honour their commitment to people with disability and their families,” Every Australian Counts campaign director Kirsten Deane told Pro Bono Australia.
In the meantime, here is a summary of the disability-related aspects of the 2018-19 Budget:
$92.1 million to provide continuity of support for those not eligible for the NDIS, but who rely on services being phased out as the NDIS rolls out
About $10 million to provide grants to disability employment service providers
An extra $300 million over the next ten years for disability services
$64 million over three years to establish an NDIS Jobs and Market Fund to stimulate the development of the disability provider market, particularly in rural areas