The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides life-changing disability supports for Australians living with permanent and significant disability. By working closely with a person with a disability and their family, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) approves NDIS funding based on the individual participant’s needs and goals. The NDIS is a significant improvement on Australia’s previously available disability services, but when did the NDIS start?
The NDIS was created after many years of debate and discussion about whether a major reform was needed in Australia’s disability sector. Disability advocates had long been outspoken about changes needed to better support the one in six Australians living with a disability.
In 2010, at the request of the Australian Government, the Productivity Commission began a public enquiry into a long-term solution for disability care and support. After reviewing more than 1000 submissions from Australians living with a disability or providing disability services, the commission agreed that a major reform was needed.
In 2011, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) came together and agreed that a national disability insurance scheme was the best way forward. While the initiative was originally named ‘DisabilityCare Australia’, this scheme would later officially become the NDIS.
In March 2013, the NDIS legislation was passed, and the NDIS Act was created. Simultaneously, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) was formed and tasked with delivering the NDIS in all Australian states and territories.
In July 2013, the NDIS began in earnest at four key trial sites. The trial sites were:
This trial period continued until July 2016, when it was declared a success. During the trial, The Australian Capital Territory became the first territory to adopt the NDIS, and in 2016 the NDIS began expanding nationally.
The NDIS was introduced under the Gillard Labor Government. The creation of the support scheme was a joint effort between state and territory governments, the national Australian Government and the Productivity Commission. The Productivity Commission’s report was also heavily influenced by the voices of many everyday Australians who gave their thoughts on what a successful disability reform would require.
The NDIS is funded and governed by all state and territory governments, administered by the NDIA and overseen by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (also known as the NDIS Commission).
The National Disability Agreement (NDA) is an agreement between all state and territory governments that “People with disability and their carers have an enhanced quality of life and participate as valued members of the community”. Under this agreement and prior to the NDIS, each state and territory was responsible for providing specialist disability supports within their own jurisdictions. The Commonwealth Government funded only income support and employment services for individuals living with a disability. Without a unified national approach to disability support, individuals and their carers could have highly varied experiences in different parts of the country. The NDIS largely replaced the disability care and support services provided under this agreement.
The NDIS heralded a new age of consistent individual access to disability support and services, as well as a much more personalised experience for scheme participants.
The NDIS was rolled out over a period of several years. Each state took a staggered approach, allowing participants access based on gradually expanding location and age group requirements. This staggered approach meant that any implementation challenges uncovered during the initial phases of the scheme could be addressed at a national level with minimal impact on participants. The national NDIS rollout was officially completed on July 1st, 2020. Now, no matter which part of the country they live in, all Australians living with a significant disability can access the support packages they need.
The NDIS rollout in each state was completed on:
The NDIS is a culmination of many years of a combined effort between The Australian Government, state and territory governments and disability advocates nationwide. As a result, all Australians with a permanent and significant disabilities can now have their critical disability services and supports funded through a consistent, national scheme. If you believe you or someone you know may be eligible for NDIS funding, contact the NDIS today.
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