National Disability Insurance Scheme
14 June 2017
I rise to update the Parliament and the people of Western Australia on the status of State Government considerations about the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Our State Government inherited a bilateral agreement for a nationally consistent, locally delivered NDIS in WA, which was signed by the former Government on the eve of the caretaker period and without reference to the former State Cabinet. It has become apparent to the Premier and myself that this agreement was entered into without sufficient consideration and detailed evaluation of alternatives, including entry into the Commonwealth scheme.
This is a significant decision which will not be rushed by the McGowan Labor Government.
The Government is properly evaluating the alternatives, with an eye to the long term best interests of Western Australia and its people.
Since coming into government I have prioritised consultation with people with disability, their families and carers, peak bodies representing individuals and the sector, individual service provider organisations, along with a range of industry and special interest groups on this critical issue.
Feedback from the consultation has been varied with positive and negative reflections on the experience of both the State and Federal schemes. This engagement has also identified key policy challenges that require consideration.
These considerations include the specific challenges for people living in rural and remote parts of Western Australia; ensuring scheme design meets the needs of people who require exceptionally high support; the importance of localised decision making contact points and genuine choice and control; and the need to safeguard and develop WA’s disability sector workforce.
It is noteworthy that the Productivity Commission review of the sustainability of the NDIS is due to report in September, and the Commonwealth Government has recently acknowledged that the scheme needs improvement based on initial experience.
It is a positive sign that the Commonwealth is listening.
While the State has been consulting the community, the Disability Services Commission was instructed to pause investments needed to progress the roll-out of the current agreement.
However, from 1 July 2017 the State Government will roll-out the State administered NDIS in the new regions of Kimberley-Pilbara and the remaining parts of the South Metropolitan Region. We expect that the NDIA trial sites will be maintained by the Federal Government during negotiations.
I have heard overwhelmingly that people want certainty AND service and we are committed to delivering this.
Western Australians also expect that any NDIS contribution made by WA is fair and equitable. This includes ensuring a reasonable return of monies raised via the Medicare Levy back to Western Australia.
Western Australians expect a quality service for people with disability and their families no less than what they were already receiving and in many cases, after years of battling, finally receiving services to which they are entitled.
I can confirm that the State Government is in discussion with the Commonwealth government about the costs and benefits of participation in the national scheme.
It is in the mutual interest of both the State and Commonwealth Governments that there is certainty for people with disabilities, their families and carers. This includes, a commitment from our governments to avoid detrimental impacts on people with disability and to ensure continuity of service while these discussions take place and that is what we will deliver.
The Commonwealth have confirmed that they are open to providing all the information that the State needs to make a final decision.
The WA Government will make a fully informed decision about the most effective way of bringing the NDIS to all eligible Western Australians.
We look forward to more constructive conversations with the Commonwealth, and hope to bring this matter to a conclusion as soon as possible.
I thank people with disabilities and their families for their forbearance while these discussions are underway.