Thursday, 25 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Minister for Government Services. Will the minister please update the House on how the Morrison government is ensuring that the NDIS is supporting the vaccine rollout for Australians living with a disability?
I thank the member for her question and acknowledge her hard work and, importantly, her great compassion for the over 1,600 scheme participants in the electorate of Higgins. She sets a marvellous example.
The recent NDIS quarterly data demonstrates that we've continued to deliver critical NDIS supports during 2020, which was an extraordinarily difficult year for Australians. Indeed, there are now 430,000 participants in the scheme. Last year, 2020, 93,500 participants were added—that's 250 participants per day during an extraordinarily difficult year. Importantly, 100 per cent of all access decisions were made within 21 days, and, over the last 18 months, the average time it takes for children to enter the scheme has dropped from 42 days to just three days.
The Morrison government is ensuring the scheme is delivering a consistent and high-quality experience to many vulnerable Australians. And, as a result of COVID-19, the government has continued to implement a range of temporary measures to support participants and providers whilst continuing to make the scheme simpler, fairer and more consistent. Particularly, there is a strategy to ensure equitable access to people with disability for vaccines. The first program, or area of vaccination, prioritises Australians with disability in residential care settings in recognition of the higher risk that they face. Frontline healthcare workers and staff will also be vaccinated.
The government will also ensure that those with underlying medical conditions and complex health needs are some of the first to receive the vaccination. Indeed, 840 NDIS participants are expected to be offered the vaccine this week across over 200 aged-care and disability accommodation sites. By the end of March, the government aims to have at least four million doses of the vaccine administered and then an accelerated rollout, as the Minister for Health has talked through. As we progress through the year, the government will continue to ensure that participants will have access to any temporary measures that are needed where COVID hotspots are declared. Despite the impacts of the pandemic and all the work that's been done, we'll continue to support participants—as we have done.
In Australia, in our national life, there have been about 108 cases per 100,000 diagnosed with COVID in the general population. By comparison, there are only 43.4 cases per 100,000 for NDIS participants. That is less than half of the national rate, which is testament to the work of the disability sector, the agency and all levels of Australian government.