NDS welcomes WA State Budget for 2022-2023
What you need to know
- $54.6m to deliver a range of measures which aim to provide much-needed support for students with disability and additional learning needs
- $74.1m to expand discharge options for long-term hospital patients, including $3.8m to expand the Disability Transition Care Pilot
- Acknowledgement of the challenges of navigating the NDIS for participants
- A strong focus on mental health initiatives
- Measures to protect the integrity of the NDIS
- Continuation of $13.4m over four years for the Office of Disability
The WA State Budget 2022-23, handed down today by Premier Mark McGowan, has a strong focus on cost of living, health, and mental health measures. While it contains little specifically for the disability sector, it broadly has the potential to significantly impact the lives of the many West Australians with disability.
The budget which reflected the State’s strong economic performance throughout the pandemic to record an operating surplus of $5.7b this financial year and an expected surplus over the forward estimates.
Key health measures which will impact the lives of West Australians with disability are included in the $252m Emergency Department Reform Packages.
This reform aims to address emergency department pressures and COVID-19 challenges. Initiatives which have relevance to the disability sector include: $74.1m to expand options for discharge for patients who remain in hospital longer than clinically required. This includes long-term patients who are awaiting NDIS services to be discharged from hospital to a transitional facility
There is also $3.8m to expand the Disability Transition Care Pilot to the North and South Metropolitan Health Services.
Further health and mental health measures include: $6.1m to fund a range of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder prevention services, $1.3m for a range of mental health workforce development initiatives, and $10 million to develop the business case for the State-wide reconfiguration of mental health services and Graylands Hospital redevelopment; and $6.5 million for the second phase of the Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety program.
An additional $2.8m will fund an election commitment for the Health and Disability Complaints Office to implement the National Code of Conduct for health care workers in WA, as well as a review of the Health and Disability Services Complaints Act 1995.
Students with disability and additional learning needs
NDS welcomes education measures totalling $54.6m, which will provide much-needed support for students with disability and additional learning needs.
This includes $31.9m to expand the Education Adjustment Allocation for more than 15,000 students with additional learning needs to provide increased early intervention support in numeracy and literacy; $18.2m investment to expand the Specialist Learning Program for students with autism to an additional eight schools; and $4.6m to fund the implementation of the Students with Disabilities and Complex Behaviour Framework, to assist in unlocking their potential.
Changes to the State Nomination Migration Program will target skilled migrants in areas of high demand. While NDS welcomes these measures, there is scope for further commitments and solutions to improve the significant workforce issues facing the disability sector.
We are pleased at the recent announcement which included $9m to attract workers and build further capacity in the disability sector through the Sector Transition Fund, a key advocacy initiative of NDS Pre-Budget Submission.
Protecting the integrity of the NDIS
While the NDIS has positively impacted many people’s lives, there is room for considerable improvement. The State’s contribution to the NDIS increased by $78.5m this financial year to $946m, due to an increase in the forecast participant numbers. There is a further $127.8m provision for State delivered disability services for people with disability who are ineligible for the NDIS.
As part of the State Disability Strategy, $5m over four years has been invested in the establishment of an Innovation Fund. The Fund will support initiatives to assist people with disability to continue education, gain employment and increase independence.
The $15m over three years for the NDIS advocacy to support participants to navigate the NDIS is an acknowledgement of the challenges faced by people with disability in the Scheme. We welcome this measure.A key long term recommendation of our Pre Budget Submission, the Office of Disability will receive $13.4m over four years to drive the State Disability Strategy, smooth interface issues between State and Commonwealth delivered services and lead negotiations for the upcoming NDIS Bilateral Agreement.
Other measures include $1.5 million over four years for the Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) Taxi Service Grant Scheme. This includes new regional WAV TSGS and provides more transport options for people with disability around the State.
NDS will continue to advocate and work with the State Government to ensure the needs of people with disability and the WA disability sector are not forgotten during the implementation of these Budget initiatives.