HomeNDIS & YouThe Journey

The beginning

The National Disability Insurance Scheme launched in July 2013, following years of discussion about the need for a major reform of disability services in Australia.

Just after the Second World War many Australians with disabilities were living in asylums and institutions. Back then, Australia’s Prime Minister tried to introduce a universal social insurance scheme similar to the idea of the NDIS. It would have made a big difference at the time to many Australians with disabilities but done little to improve the life of those Australians living in institutions. In any case, the government was defeated at an election in 1949 and the scheme was not implemented.

Many years later in the 1970’s the idea of a comprehensive disability system was again discussed, with a focus on supporting those with acquired disability. It was similar in a number of respects to the NDIS. This was again opposed and the dream of a universal scheme to support Australians with disability disappeared for another thirty-five years.

New approaches

By 2005, there were some hopeful signs of improvement in NSW. The State government had succeeded in establishing a Lifetime Care scheme for people disabled in motor vehicle accidents and were planning to extend it to all forms of acquired disability. NSW also took significant steps toward much-needed reform of its specialist services by implementing the Stronger Together program.

Reforms similar in scope and intent to Stronger Together had been happening in VIC and WA since 2000. However, still more than half of all Australians living with severe and profound disability were getting little or no support.

Around the country, many people were developing ideas aimed at providing more targeted and personalised support in the community. There was more focus on community organisations as providers. From these State based attempts to reform disability we knew any improvements were fragmented and that the financial realities of the Federal system meant any real change could only happen by introducing a national scheme.

2020 vision

In 2008 came a significant opportunity. The new Labor government convened a 2020 Summit to advise Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on new policy directions. People lobbied to get the idea of an NDIS onto the Summit’s agenda.

Once the government had to think about the problem they realised disability reform had to be on the national agenda. Bill Shorten, the then Parliamentary Secretary for Disability had Cabinet refer the idea of an NDIS from the 2020 Summit to the Productivity Commission.

The Productivity Commission received over 1000 submissions from people with disability and the disability sector. The messages were clear the current system does not work. The Prime Minister released the Productivity Commission's report on 10 August 2011.

National Disability Services (NDS), the peak body for disability service providers, AFDO, the peak body for advocacy organisations, and Carers Australia, the peak body for family carers, formed an alliance known as The National Disability and Carers Alliance. This Alliance campaigned for a NDIS.

Establishing a NDIS

In 2011 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to the need for a reform to disability services through a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). An agreement was reached to proceed with the launch of the NDIS in July 2012.

The NDIS Act 2013 was created, along with the scheme and the National Disability Insurance Agency, responsible for delivering the scheme.

Your turn to shine!

Now, more than ever, your community needs you. It’s time for Australia’s disability practitioners to shine, the tens of thousands of you who help make a difference every day.

Around 4.2 million Australians, or about one in five people, have some form of disability. For many, this makes it hard to live fulfilling lives. It is through the professionalism and dedication of National Disability Practitioners (NDP) members that many Australians with disability get the chance to make the most of their lives, engage in worthwhile employment, and enjoy satisfying activities and relationships.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will reinforce those values even more strongly. As the NDIS rolls out across Australia, frontline support workers are the people who will help make this ground-breaking scheme work. It will bring a better quality of life to 460,000 people and their families.

The NDIS is a huge change to disability support in Australia, and the new NDP website is your go-to place. Here you can get information, find out about career opportunities, share your stories and get advice.

The best news is you’re in a growth industry. Demand for your services will increase. A 2013 survey by PricewaterhouseCooper showed that the industry will have to double its workforce, estimating that 80,000 extra workers will be needed across Australia, including more than 20,000 management and administration positions and a similar number of support workers.

As the scheme rolls out, indicators are that NDP members love their jobs, with 96 per cent recording that they liked their work – 24 per cent higher than the all-industry average job satisfaction rate. These are recent statistics from National Disability Services, which tracked the changes as the NDIS rolls out across New South Wales. The NDS report is based on 27 not-for-profit organisations and more than 1,500 employees, from May 2013 to March 2014. It also found a high level of employee engagement, and that support workers are committed to their work, and actively contribute to their employer's performance and mission.

As the NDIS shifts the focus to a person-centred approach, people with disability are becoming actively involved in the design and management of their support programs. The emphasis is on service delivery, and people with disability are the customers. This means that NDP workers will be even more service-orientated than ever, with CareCareers Australia already reporting that many newcomers to the sector are coming from industries like hospitality and retail, with strong customer service skills.

It also brings good opportunities for career progression and learning new skills. As NDP members respond to individual clients’ needs, this can mean acquiring skills that will complement what the client requires. It can be anything from having your language skills recognised to learning administration skills, or assisting someone to develop daily living and life skills, to participate in the community, or to get access to employment.

It’s a chance to be creative, and be part of one of the most exciting changes to Australian disability support in our history. And it’s your chance to shine.

Further information:

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is an independent statutory agency whose role is to implement the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS): www.ndis.gov.au/

Every Australian Counts is a people’s campaign that demanded the introduction of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), as recommended by the Productivity Commission. Every Australian Counts aims to make sure the NDIS is delivered as promised and is the best it can be: www.everyaustraliancounts.com.au/