ALA welcomes new debate to secure funding for DisabilityCare
30th Apr 2013
The Australian Lawyers Alliance today welcomed renewed debate on secure funding for DisabilityCare (previously the NDIS).
ALA President, Tony Kerin, believes most Australians would be prepared to finance DisabilityCare either through a Medicare-style levy or with a fundamental reform of the GST.
"For too long real debate about DisabilityCare has been compromised by a lack of certainty over its future funding,” Mr Kerin said.
“It’s timely that these issues are now on the table," he said.
“Secure funding is essential to the scheme’s sustainability and protecting individuals’ legal rights. Otherwise, there is no certainty for individuals in the long term. This was the reason that the NDIS was proposed in the first place.
"And we have always said that the only guarantee of these vital rights is to ensure secure funding for the scheme."
Finance Minister Ms Penny Wong correctly summed up the situation this morning on Fran Kelly’s ABC Breakfast:
“Whatever option you look at you have to look at what will give security to people with a disability, what will ensure we have a strong scheme, not just for a couple of years but for the decades ahead.”
Mr Kerin said that fundamental to ensuring a secure scheme was both financial support and entrenching vital legal rights.
“There now should be no excuses and no compromising of existing and critical legal rights under any new DisabilityCare scheme,” Mr Kerin said.
"Our greatest fear was that Australia could go down the path of other jurisdictions such as New Zealand, where funding crises have increasingly undercut vital legal rights and the NZ scheme’s capacity to properly support those in need.”
Mr Kerin said key areas for rights protection that needed proper scrutiny included:
- Sustainable funding. Without long term sustainability, the benefits of all individuals participating in DisabilityCare would be at risk of being cut off. This was especially true in relation to the making of NDIS Rules, where financial considerations were highly regarded.
- Advocate funding to advise those accessing the scheme must be included.
- Individuals must have a right to choose whether they wanted to seek legal action rather than being compelled to do so or risk losing DisabilityCare benefits.
- Any individual accessing the scheme should not be left in a worse position through unintended consequences as a result of poor DisabilityCare Rules clarity.
- Adequate, transparent review processes must be established and reasons for decisions given.