In a Federal Budget light on disability initiatives, the headline announcement is the provision of $527.9 million over five years to support the work of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. The bulk of this funding will be spent from 2019-22.Given NDS’s support for the Royal Commission, we welcome the allocation of $379 million for the conduct of its inquiry over five years. The remaining $149 million will be provided to DSS, the NDIA and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to provide counselling services and other supports to people with disability to assist them to participate.To assist Disability Enterprises to transition to a new wage assessment model, the Government is providing $67 million over five years. Detail on how this funding will be implemented is not available. NDS will inform members after being briefed by DSS.To support the piloting of a new employment services model for jobactive, almost $250 million will be spent over five years to provide digital employment servicing for job-ready jobseekers and enhanced services for disadvantaged jobseekers. The pilot will involve approximately 95,000 jobseekers in Adelaide South, South Australia and Mid North Coast, New South Wales.e.motion21 is set to receive $300,000 to pilot a program to support the education and employment of young people with Down syndrome.Mental health has received a welcome funding boost. More than $263 million will be provided over seven years to improve access to youth mental health services across the headspace network (expanding it to 145 services across Australia by 2021). In addition, almost $230 million over seven years will be spent on a range of community mental health services to strengthen social networks and peer groups, support social inclusion and increase treatment options.To assist more young carers to participate in education and training, an additional $84 million over four years is being made available to expand the Integrated Carer Support Service.Members of Epilepsy Australia will share $20 million over four years from 2019-20 to pilot the Epilepsy Smart Australia Program. This pilot aims to reduce the chronic health impacts experienced by those who have epilepsy by encouraging them to be healthy and active, to promote participation and retention in education and work, and to support the health sector workforce.The VET sector will receive $525 million over five years to reform and be more responsive to skills shortages and future changes in the labour market. Of that, almost $42 million to pilot Skills Organisations in the areas of human services care and digital technologies including security.
Concern has been expressed about the increasing use of sham contracting in the NDIS and other sectors (where employers misrepresent employment relationships as independent contracts to avoid statutory obligations and employment entitlements). The Fair Work Ombudsman will receive $9.2 million over four years to establish a dedicated sham contracting unit. It will focus on education, compliance and enforcement, and investigation and litigation.Access to the instant asset write-off is expanding and the limit is increasing. Small businesses (with a turnover of less the $10 million) are now able to immediately deduct purchases of eligible assets costing less than $30,000 (where they have been first used or installed for use from Budget night). Medium sized businesses (up to $50 million) will also now have access to this instant asset write-off. NDS expects this initiative will be of benefit to a significant number of members.The actual underspend on the NDIS this financial year is unclear. However, the slower than expected transition of participants into the NDIS will result in the Commonwealth’s net contribution to the NDIS being $1.6 billion less next year. This includes a decrease in receipts in relation to state and territory contributions to the NDIS and increases in expenditure on other disability programs (which need funding to support people who are slow to transition into the scheme).