NDIS: National Disability Insurance Scheme

... “most families and individuals cannot adequately prepare for the risk and financial impact of significant disability"

The NDIS is a national no-fault scheme that is proposed to replace our existing crisis driven and underfunded disability service systems. The early parts of the NDIS are being put into place this year, and trials will begin in 5 States/Territories in 2013. The NDIS is being designed as a social insurance funding scheme that will fund the life time care and support that Australians with disability require. Its companion scheme, the National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS), will fund supports for Australians suffering catastrophic injuries as a result of motor vehicle, sporting and domestic accidents, as well as common and domestic assaults. Both schemes are key recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s (PC) inquiry into the need for a Disability Long Term Care and Support Scheme. Following public release of the Productivity Commission’s Disability Care and Support Report (hot linked) in July 2011, the Australian Government announced that it would begin working with the states and territories to design and build a new national scheme. The Commission found that funding to disability services needs to double if the needs of people with significant disability are to be properly met.

The delivery of a social insurance funding base for disability services has been the centrepiece of the Alliance’s policy platform since its inception in 2001 and has been integral to the policy work we have pursued with state and federal governments over the last 11 years. Many young people currently living in aged care have acquired their disability in circumstances that don’t attract any kind of lifetime funding or compensation, and the inequity in access to funding for disability services and rehabilitation has been of key concern to the Alliance.

The Alliance first called publicly for such a scheme in two submissions to the Senate’s Inquiry into Aged Care in 2004/05, a call that has been reiterated since in Alliance submissions to enquiries as diverse as the Senate Inquiry into the CSTDA (2006), the sale of Medibank Private (2006), the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) Review (2010); dedicated Summits on the issue including the Alliance’s 2007 National Summit on No Fault Catastrophic Injury Insurance; and via public forums such the Alliance’s 2009 Fringe Forum It’s Time that featured New Zealand’s Sir Owen Woodhouse, the man Gough Whitlam appointed to investigate a National Compensation Scheme for Accidents and Sickness in 1974/5.

Why do we need an NDIS?

Despite Australians with disability comprising nearly a quarter of the national population, disability services in this country have never been anything but chronically under resourced and unable to meet the growing need for services and supports nationally.  As the National People with Disabilities and Carer Council’s (NPWDACC) 2009 Shut Out Report declares, our current system is “…broke and broken, chronically under-funded and under-resourced, crisis driven and struggling against a vast tide of unmet need.”

Not only does this mean a constant struggle to obtain the supports needed to maintain health, sustain a self directed life in the community, be a valued member of the community and participate in education and employment – something taken for granted by able-bodied Australians – but family, carers, friends and community also find themselves adversely affected as they struggle to find and deliver the supports required for their loved ones.

The need for reform and a better way of delivering care and support over the life course for Australians with impairment has never been more urgent. As the Productivity Commission bluntly stated in its final report “…most families and individuals cannot adequately prepare for the risk and financial impact of significant disability…” , and quickly become reliant on the underfunded, disjointed disability system of their state.  The Disability Care and Support report details the current crisis in Australia and why a change is needed now.

Productivity Commission Inquiry

Australia’s state based disability support systems are often likened to a ‘lottery’, delivering wildly varying levels of support depending on type of disability and how, where and when it was acquired.

In its inquiry, the Productivity Commission was charged with investigating

  • How a scheme should be designed and funded to better meet the long-term needs of people with disability, their families and carers
  • How to determine the people most in need of support, the services that should be available to them, and service delivery arrangements
  • The costs, benefits, feasibility and funding options of alternative schemes
  • How the scheme will interact with the health, aged care, informal care, income support and injury insurance systems
  • Its impacts on the workforce
  • How any scheme should be introduced and governed
  • What protections and safeguards should be part of the scheme

Submissions to the Inquiry and to the Inquiry’s Draft Report were invited from all sections of the community. The final report was then released on 10 August 2011.

pdfThe Alliance's submission to the Productivity Commission's Inquiry into Disability Care and Support2.59 MB

pdfYPINH Alliance response to the PC’s Draft Report into Disability Care & Support426.89 KB

 Disability Care and Support Report

“Underfunded, unfair, fragmented, and inefficient” is the damning verdict handed down by the Commission in its review of the current disability system. In recognising that our present disability system is not meeting people’s needs or the needs of the nation, a complete overhaul was recommended.

As indicated in its final report, the main function of the NDIS would be to fund long-term high quality care and support (but not income replacement) for people with significant disabilities.

The full report, including key points and recommendations is available on the Productivity Commission website.

As a national, no-fault social insurance scheme, the NDIS will deliver care and support to the most disabled Australians aged under 65 years. Those eligible for the scheme will receive the support they need no matter where they live.

What now?

Upon release of the PC’s final report, the Australian Government announced it’s support of the “Productivity Commission's vision for a system that provides individuals with the support they need over the course of their lifetime”.

The Government also stated that it would begin working with the states and territories tobuild the foundations for a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

How can I keep up to date with the NDIS?

There are constant developments in regard to the NDIS across the governments, sectors and community.

Following social media is a good way to keep a daily watch on any progress . Many disability organisations post the latest media and government announcements on their sites.  

Start by following our Twitter and Facebook pages for media, announcements and discussion.

Sign up for regular updates sent out by the Australian Government


  • NDIS Draft Legislation
  • Australian Government NDIS website
  • Productivity Commission Disability Care and Support Public Inquiry
  • Productivity Commission Disability Care and Support Report
  • The Productivity Commission’s recommendations for the NDIS have been welcomed by people with disability and their families, carers, and support organisations across the country.

    The enormous but exciting task of building a national scheme that successfully encompasses the needs of Australians with disability lies ahead. This complex process will require ongoing partnership and strong input from those with disability and their families; collaboration and partnership by state and federal governments with each other; collaboration and input from the disability, health, aged care, education, employment and other service sectors; as well as the support and commitment of the wider community, understanding that we are all vulnerable to dealing with disability and its impact at any time.

    Information about the respective launch sites will be updated on this page as it becomes available.


    30 January 2013

    The YPINH National Alliance Submission to the NDIS Bill Senate Inquiry

    The Alliance welcomes the Inquiry into the NDIS Bill and the opportunity to outline in the submission the concerns affecting the YPINH cohort. The Alliance submission focuses on the 3 key areas of the Scheme’s interface with other program areas, the under-65 age restriction, and the vital need for Plan Management Providers – or Disability Support Organisations.

    YPINH opening statement to NDIS Bill Senate Inquiry

    YPINH National Alliance Submission to the NDIS Bill Senate Inquiry

    6 December 2012

    NSW is the first state to reach a funding agreement on the NDIS

    NSW announces today that it has reached a funding agreement with the Commonwealth for the full rollout of the NDIS across the state in 2018-19. Both governments will contribute around $3b each to enable the care of the 140,000 NSW residents with disability.

    NDIS draft legislation introduced into Parliament

    The draft legislation for the NDIS was introduced to Parliament on Thursday 29th December 2012. The legislation sets out a framework for the scheme, including eligibility criteria, age requirements, and what constitutes reasonable and necessary support.

    The draft legislation is available through the NDIS website.

    Be sure to provide comments before Parliament votes in the first half of 2013.

    Federal funding commitment

    As part of the Commonwealth’s 2012 Budget, Treasurer, Wayne Swan, announced the Federal Government’s initial contribution of $1 billion towards the creation of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

    The Government had previously announced it would launch the scheme in July 2013 - a year earlier than planned - but the Treasurer used the budget speech to unveil the amount of funding.

    The commitment includes:

    • $342 million over three years for individually funded packages for people with significant and permanent disability;
    • $154 million over three years to employ local area coordinators;
    • $58 million over three years to assess the needs of people with a disability in launch locations; and
    •  $240 million over four years to build and operate an NDIS IT system

    In his budget speech to Federal Parliament, Mr Swan said that the creation of an NDIS would be the most fundamental social policy reform since Medicare.

    "Over 400,000 Australians live with a significant and permanent disability and are among the most deserving of our support," he said.

    "An NDIS will ensure people with disabilities get the individual care and support they need."

    "Under this Government, they will start to receive it."

    The $1 billion will be spread over four years and help roll out the first stage of an NDIS at state based launch locations.

    It is expected to assist 10,000 people from 2013-14 and 20,000 people from 2014-15.

    Community Consultations

    As part of its continued commitment, the Australian Government has also funded the Disability and Carers Alliance to run a series of focus groups and forums on the NDIS to enable people with a disability and their families to contribute their ideas to the NDIS design process. 

    NDIS Launch Sites

    At the most recent meeting of the Council Of Australian Governments (COAG), negotiations began to secure trials of the NDIS in discrete ‘Launch Sites’ in States and Territories. After some very public exchanges between some Governments, ‘Launch Sites’ had been agreed in New South Wales, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia. Western Australia and Queensland are yet to come to terms with the Australian Government on co-funding and hosting a launch site.