Australia rolls out new disability insurance plan

A new national Australian program promises to dramatically transform the range of services available for people with disabilities in need of long-term care.

The National Disability Insurance System, which began on a trial basis in 2013, is an additional income support on top of the country’s Disability Support Pension to provide extra funding for special needs, such as to buy a wheelchair or home-care assistance, according to the Conversation.

Specifically, the $22 billion program intends to fund “reasonable and necessary supports that help a participant to reach their goals, objectives and aspirations and to undertake activities to enable the participant’s social and economic participation,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

On July 1, 2016, the NDIS was introduced in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory and for all young people of particular ages in South Australia and Tasmania. Once fully implemented in July 2019, the program is expected to benefit as many as 460,000 of the nation’s estimated 4.3 million people with disabilities under age 65.

“This is a historic day for people with disability and the broader Australian community,” NDIS Chairman Bruce Bonyhady he said in a news release. “Today we move away from the old one-size-fits-all approach to a new approach which is based on choice and control for people with disability on a scale not seen anywhere in the world.”

The program was, in part, sparked by a 2011 report from the government-created Productivity Commission, which described Australia’s disability support systems as  “underfunded, unfair, fragmented and inefficient,” and called for a national program to create the patchwork of services among the country’s five states and three territories.

The NDIS website contains more details about the programs and people served.