What are people from Western Australia worried about? What's happening there that is different?
In Western Australia (WA), the trial of the NDIS is being done differently from everywhere else in the country. In WA there are two different trials being held at the same time. The first trial is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) trial that is being run just like all the NDIS trials sites in the other states and territories. The second trial is called ‘My Way’ and is being run by the Western Australian state government - because they believe that they can support people with disability better with My Way than with the NDIS. At the beginning of the trials, the WA and federal governments agreed that an independent university would look at how the two different trials went, and then work out which one went better for people with disability.
During the last few weeks, there have been reports in the media (NDIS is ‘being left on the shelf’ - The Australian) that the WA and federal governments have already decided between them that Western Australians with disability will have their support funded through a state based funding system based on the ‘My Way’ trial, and not the national NDIS. A number of Western Australians with disability and their families have been very concerned about these reports and have been voicing their concerns, such as the Open Letter from Down Syndrome Australia to WA Minister Morton and the petition on Change.org (Make sure West Australians with disability get a 'fair trial' for the NDIS).
Some people with disability and their families in WA believe that the reports in the media suggest that the WA government does not want to wait until the agreed independent checking is finished. People with disability are reminding the government that the NDIS was developed to fix the broken disability system that the Productivity Commission famously stated in 2010 was ‘unfair, underfunded and fragmented’.
- Unfair: Not all people with disability can get supports, and when you can receive supports, you often don’t have a choice about who or where they are from
- Fragmented: Only people who live in certain areas or acquire their disability in certain ways can get supports
- Underfunded: It can be very hard to get the supports you need. Sometimes they are not available because there is not enough money and so some people miss out or go on very long waiting lists
When people use the NDIS it is very different:
- The needs-based and transparent application and delivery process fixes the unfairness as people with disabilities get the supports they need and have choices about things that can help them.
- A national scheme corrects the fragmentation; it won’t matter where you are in Australia because the NDIS will be the same in every state and territory
- The increase in overall funding repairs the underfunding; people will not go on waiting lists for support packages anymore
People with disability say that if WA has a separate system to everyone else, then the second problem is not solved. They also say that in the WA My Way system that the special agreements between the government and service providers (called in-kind agreements) stop people with disability from choosing where they get the supports and so the first problem is also not solved. They want to wait until the independent university has a look at these problems before the final decision is made.
People with disability and families in WA also believe that they should be the main group to say which system works better for them. They also say that the community should be able to get good, fair information about how the two different trials being held in WA are going.
There have been 15 articles in the media about NDIS/My Way this year so far, which are listed below. 11 of these articles talked about My Way in a way that made it sound like it is the better choice. The people that said that My Way was better were people from the WA Government (10 of the articles) and people from one of WA's biggest service providers - Nulsen Disability Services (5 of the articles).
Disability Loop would like to hear from people with disabilities and families on their experiences in both the NDIS and My Way trials.
Here are links to mainstream news articles about NDIS/My Way in WA in 2015 so far:
Disability support system helping just a quarter of those in need
The Australian, January 28
Abbott gives states free rein on NDIS
The Australian, March 31
WA’s My Way may work within NDIS
The West Australian, May 17
Orelia man does it My Way with NDIS
The West Australian, May 17
Federal NDIS trial has given my sons a new chance at life: Perth mum
WA Today, June 17
NDIS way for Ellen
The West Australian, June 30
WA should go its own way rather than NDIS, disability advocates say
WA Today, August 19
NDIS costs unrealistic: Trewern
Business News, September 2
WA NDIS model delivers best outcomes
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia, September 15
Keep NDIS local: Morton
The West Australian, September 2
NDIS is ‘being left on the shelf’
The Australian, September 22
The baby and the bathwater: let’s keep the NDIS but slow down its roll-out
The Conversation, September 27