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ACT in Focus by Jo Huxley, February 2024

With the ACT Disability Hot Topics Breakfast on soon, the hottest topic is the NDIS Review and what it means for providers.
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On tenth anniversary of NDIS, research shows critical low in community disability programs

A young person with disability is supported by an adult in a playground


A new NDS-commissioned report shows a concerning outlook for the future of community-based supports (Tier 2) disability services, with funding and volunteers reaching a critical low. Tier 2 services, which include mainstream state government services and those from community groups, not-for-profit organisations and local government, have been hit hard by rising inflation, low investment and declining volunteerism.

Research in 2022 by the Melbourne Disability Institute, University of Melbourne, showed that ninety per cent of people with disability who are not on individual NDIS funding packages cannot get services and support they need.

The new NDS report, ‘Not A One Stop Shop: The NDIS in Australia’s Infrastructure’, researched by independent think tank Per Capita, has found the decline in access to Tier 2 services is largely due to the changing structure of federal and state funding for Tier 2 services and declining volunteerism in the sector. As government funding declines, the dependence on volunteers increases, worsening the situation.

Importantly, the research suggests that people with disability who cannot access community services may be compelled to seek support from NDIS services, putting more pressure on the scheme.

As the NDIS marks its tenth anniversary this month, the viability of community-based supports is in doubt. NDS CEO Laurie Leigh calls for “stable, sufficient and well-targeted funding” for the survival and expansion of these programs.

“A lack of so-called Tier 2 supports has created an ‘NDIS or bust’ situation for people with disability needing assistance. Investing in these community support programs will take considerable pressure off the scheme,” she said.

“With Tier 2 funding accounting for less than one per cent of total investment in disability supports, now is the time to inject some funding and stability into Tier 2 services.

“We need reliable, ongoing funding for Tier 2 services — be that through states and territories, local councils, the NDIS or linkages grants — so that there is, for the whole sector, a thriving environment for people with disability to access the information and supports that they need.”

Please find below links to the report (PDF and Accessible) along with a summary version.  

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