Promises, promises! A comparison of the major parties’ pre-election disability policies.

Written by:
Angela Cox

Angela Cox

Principal Lawyer

In this article:

With the Federal Election on 21 May 2022, candidates have been out making promises, promises to voters. Here is a comparison of the disability announcements and policies of the Labor, Liberal and Greens parties (made to date).

Labor

On 18 April 2022, the Shadow NDIS Minster, Bill Shorten, announced that, if elected, the Labor party would comprehensively review the NDIS and implement measures to ‘return the scheme to its original vision’. 

Labor’s A Better Future For the NDIS measures include:

  • introducing an ‘Expert Review’, an alternative dispute resolution mechanism that refers any proposed 20% or more (per year) plan funding reduction to an expert reviewer with supporting evidence. This is intended to address the recent 400% increase in NDIS appeals to the AAT;
  • making all proposed changes to the scheme transparent to rebuild trust between the NDIS and the people who rely on it for support;
  • publishing data so the scheme can be properly monitored, evaluated, and interrogated and identify gaps in the current evidence base;
  • increasing the number of people with disability on the NDIA executive and board so that their voice is returned to the scheme;
  • stopping waste in the system by lifting the NDIA staffing cap, reducing service provider fraud and cutting spending on external lawyers and consultants;
  • fixing the planning pathway and appeals to make NDIS decision-making more efficient, fair, and investment focused;
  • strengthening the disability services sector with a review of NDIS pricing, markets and compliance, and developing a comprehensive NDIS workforce strategy; 
  • appointing a senior officer within the NDIA to tackle the barriers to service delivery in remote areas of Australia and other areas; 
  • pausing the current changes to Supported Independent Living (SIL) that are being progressed by the current Government without proper consultation;
  • investigating the $500 million Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) underspend to ensure people with disability can access appropriate housing; and
  • investigating the NDIA Call Centre operation so participants and their families get the best possible service.

Labor’s additional and broader Better Support for People with Disability policy includes:

  • developing a National Autism Strategy;
  • committing $15 million for a National Disability Research Partnership and consideration of continued support for a National Disability Data Asset to ensure future changes to the NDIS are based on proper evidence;
  • making the National Disability Strategy accountable by measuring its implementation, to ensure that real progress is made on important outcomes like employment and education; 
  • improve employment outcomes with a Disability Employment Centre for Excellence that will provide a clearinghouse for ideas and increased capacity among employment services;
  • never again leaving people with disability at the back of the queue in relation to the pandemic or a future emergency response;
  • doubling existing support for individual and systemic advocacy with an additional $10 million over four years to address systemic abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and support to navigate services. Labor will also match additional funding for NDIS Appeals providers to cope with the volume of AAT appeals; and
  • improving disability access in the community by ensuring there are enough ‘Changing Places’ (i.e. disability toilets for people with high support needs) available across the country. Labor will offer a third of the funding required to build a facility in each of the 400 LGAs that currently do not have ‘Changing Places’ facilities.

On 21 April 2022, the Labor party announced that, if elected, it would match the Government’s commitment to invest $28 million in research on improving health outcomes for people with intellectual disability (more on this below). 

Liberal 

The Liberal party do not appear to have a dedicated pre-election disability policy or plan.

However, on 7 April 2022, three days before the election was called, the Minister for Social Services, Anne Ruston, announced the Government’s investment of $100 million over three years to support the provision of disability advocacy and legal services. This includes, from 1 July 2022, more than $73 million in grants to 59 advocacy organisations across Australia for their continued delivery of the National Disability Advocacy Program.

On 20 April 2022, the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, announced $8 million in funding for the establishment of a National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability Health and an additional $20 million in grants for intellectual disability health research. The Centre is the key to successful delivery of the National Roadmap for Improving the Health of People with Intellectual Disability, which was released in August 2021.

On 7 May 2022,  the Minister for Social Services announced that, like Labor, it supported a National Autism Strategy and, if re-elected, would commit $1 million towards the initiative.

Greens 

The Greens have pledged to ‘remove the barriers, fix the systems, and eliminate the structural discrimination disabled people face’.

The Greens Accessible Australia plan includes:

  • fully resourcing the NDIS so it meets the needs of people with disability, their families and carers;
  • removing the 65 year NDIS eligibility cap;
  • ensuring the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission is properly resourced;
  • making physical and digital worlds accessible, including by establishing a new $3 billion Accessible Infrastructure Fund;
  • championing inclusive education and employment by establishing a 20% quota for full disabled employee representation in the Australian Public Service by 2030;
  • creating more accessible housing and healthcare through co-designed planning, policies, and implementation of Liveable Housing Australia Silver Standard across the country; and
  • ensuring people with disability are at the centre of decision-making, policy and planning through $30 million increase in Commonwealth funding for disability advocacy organisations over four years.

Voting

Remember that every Australian aged 18+ years has the right to vote and EVERY VOTE MATTERS.

Election day is Saturday, 21 May 2022, with pre-polling commencing on Monday, 9 May 2022.

If you are a person with disability and require assistance or support to vote, please see the dedicated page on the Australian Electoral Commission website or contact the office of your current local Federal member of Parliament for help.

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DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is general only. While it may provide guidance on a issue or matter that you may have, it should not be relied on as legal advice. We recommend that you obtain legal advice specific to your issue or matter.

© A. Cox 2021 All rights reserved. This article is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research or as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), no part of this article may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means without prior permission from the author.