Thursday, 3 September 2020
Questions without Notice
COVID-19: Disability Services
My question is to the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Minister for Government Services. Can the minister update the House on how the Morrison government is guaranteeing essential services for the disability sector during the COVID-19 recession?
I thank the member for Mackellar for his question and for his advocacy for those with disability in his seat—1,646 participants that I know he is passionate and caring for.
Despite all of the issues we're going through with COVID-19, the Morrison government continues to deliver for NDIS participants, acting to ensure that the essential services that people require continue during a very challenging time. Despite the conditions we're in, the latest quarterly report shows that the NDIA has now driven significant improvements to ensure participants are receiving timely supports. There are now a staggering 400,000 Australians in the scheme. Despite the circumstances of the last few months, 28,000 people entered the scheme in the last quarter alone. That's something we as a nation should be proud of. More than 175,000 Australians are receiving supports for the very first time. For the first time in their life, they're receiving some sort of support from the state. As more participants have joined the scheme, we've continued to improve the timeliness and the responsiveness. In June this year, an access decision took 10 days, four times faster than 12 months ago, and it only took six days for access if you were a child aged from zero to six, seven times faster than 12 months ago. The average number of days to receive a first plan is 67 days, a 50 per cent improvement from 12 months ago, and for children it is even quicker: 42 days.
Again, despite COVID-19, $5 billion was paid to deliver support to NDIS participants in the June quarter—$5 billion over a tumultuous three months in our nation's life, to ensure that services are there for needy Australians, a staggering 86 per cent increase on the same time last year. We are absolutely committed as a government to providing support to Australians—hence the announcement of landmark reforms last week. We've supported, or supported in principle, all of the Tune recommendations, and that includes our commitment we made at the election for a participant service guarantee to legislate time frames within the NDIA for decisions on access, undertaking planning and completing planning reviews—KPIs, if you like, to ensure accountability for Australians seeking support. Over the next six months, in line with public health advice, we'll continue to work in close collaboration with Australians with disability and with the sector to implement these reforms.
This is a world-leading reform. It is a national endeavour. And, as we move towards 500,000 participants in the scheme, can I thank everyone who has been involved in delivering what is such essential, necessary support to such wonderful Australians, who need it every day.