Disability, by the term itself, means the presence of a physical condition or a mental condition, which causes limitation in the movements, activities or in the senses of a person. This is an acute problem globally as nearly 19% of the population of the world suffers some kind of disability and of these disabled population, 2% to 4% also experience difficulties in daily functioning management. In a rough estimation, it can be said that nearly 48.9 million people in the world have some kind of disability (Salomon et al., 2012).
Like any other country, disability is a big issue of concern in Australia also. Though being one of the primary developed countries and economic power in the global scenario, Australia has to deal with the problem of disability as nearly 4.2 million people in the country battles some kind or other form of disability, which amounts to nearly 18.5% of the total population of the country (Fawcett & Plath, 2012). The country has worked considerably in this aspect and has launched one of the most elaborate welfare schemes in this aspect in 2013, which is known as the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The assignment tries to shed light on the scheme, its prospects and the issues rising the implementation and success of the scheme management. It also tries to find the solutions for the concerning issues, keeping in consideration the economic, political and social framework of the country (World Health Organization 2012).
The concept of shifting the disability care from institutionalism to community care was present in the economy of the country from as early as in 1970s and many steps have been taken by the government of the country in this respect, time and again. However, the Australian government in 2013 established the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the scheme started being rolled out nationwide from 1st July, 2016. The scheme, administered and monitored by the National Disability Insurance Agency, Australia, has seen significant response from the residents of the country, with the constant increase in the demand for aid (Soldatic et al., 2014). Among the services most demanded under this aspect were the community supports and the job services. By July 2015, the number of supported people rose to 20,000, with the target of the scheme being set to provide support to around 410,000 people in the country. The annual budget of this highly ambitious scheme is $700 million specifically for disability accommodation, which will be required to support 28,000 people for whom high support is needed and the total budget for the same is estimated at AUD 22 billion annually (Baker, 2012).
The costs of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Australia are borne by the Federal Government of the country as well as the individual state governments, which commit to fall under the domain of this scheme. The first state of the country, which fully committed to fund the scheme, was the New South Wales (2012) along with the federal government. Gradually other states started coming under the purviews of the scheme, though not all state had the provision to share the costs of implementing the scheme, as they had high shares of debt. With time both the contributions of the states as well as the Commonwealth of the country in this aspect kept on rising [See Appendix 1], as demand for disability aid kept on increasing in the country.
The basic goal of the NDIS, based on which the entire framework of the scheme has been designed, is to help people with different abilities to live a quality life without feeling incapable or ostracized, by empowering them according to their needs. For this, the scheme has made tie ups with numerous service providers in the country, working in this arena of care giving. These service providers, who tie up with the government regarding this scheme, are required to provide their support to the individuals in need, at a price which is decided by the mutual agreement of the governing authorities and the service providers, the prices being set at a rate which is generally lower than the market equilibrium prices of the same. The basic policy framework underpinning the scheme keeps into consideration the following things:
The National Disability Insurance Scheme was implemented with the idea of providing services to all the disabled people in the country. However, in spite of receiving positive responses from many of the residents of the country as a concrete social welfare measure, has however faced severe criticisms on several grounds of implementation and monitoring, especially by a section of those who were supposed to be directly benefitted from the scheme.
The National Disability Scheme has, in the recent years faced significant problems in implementation and service provision in the different genres of the disability support for the residents of the country. The main issues faced by the participants, both in the demand side as well as in the supply side, falling under the domain of this scheme are discussed in the following sections:
One of the primary problems, which the scheme is facing, which have the intensity to plague the entire system and nullify the entire welfare objective of the scheme is that there remains an acute shortage of service providers. This in its turn is hampering the welfare of the people who are I dire need of such support as the services are not reaching on time or at all to many of the participants. There have been reports of various instances where it took weeks for a wheelchair to reach to a disabled person, even after repeated application or where the service giver assigned to a consumer with high needs did not reach at all (Duckett & Willcox, 2015).
The scheme, which has been rolled out for the entire country, was not equipped sufficiently to meet the needs of the people across the country. This is because it takes a huge amount of preparation, recruitment and training of an able workforce and proper dissemination of services following a robust and planned framework management, to make the scheme a success in such a big domain of operations. However, a huge lack is being experienced in this aspect as in many cases the service provider assigned to support a person, instead of helping the person has been seen to aggravate the sufferings of the same (Abc.net.au, 2017).
Another big hurdle on the path of the working of the scheme is the problems which h are faced due to the glitches in the website of the scheme. Nearly 3000 to 4000 service providers faced the problems of accessing the site due to IT related problems, which have restricted the inclusion of any new providers till the resolution of the problem. The twenty four hour support line also remains inaccessible most of the times (Abc.net.au, 2017).
The scheme is plagued with the problem of lack of transparency from the very beginning, as there remains significant disparity regarding the allocation of funds and services across the countries. The participants and service providers, who have questioned about the transparency and implementation of the scheme has been barred from access of the site (O’Connor, 2014).
The above-mentioned problems regarding the implementation of the scheme, clubbed with the disparity in the prices that the service providers receive, has led to the withdrawal of many of the service providers to withdraw their services from the market. However, the price disparities are not that big a problem as are the lack of efficient workers and the lack of transparency in the system (Jan, Essue & Leeder, 2012).
The problems identified in the system can be solved with the help of potential set of solutions, which comprises of the following:
The above section shows the extent of problems that has been cropping up in the NDIS in Australia, much of which can be attributed to the lack of coordination, insufficient labor and capital resources and inefficient allocations of the same. Proper coordination and maintenance of transparency can help in mitigating the problem to considerable extent.
The primary steps that can be adopted by the authorities to rule out the existing problems are workforce build up and maintenance of transparency and coordination across regions as well as in different aspects under the scheme, thereby making the service pro-consumer without hampering the service providers.
It becomes the responsibility of the federal as well as the state governments to collaborate and collectively put effort in constructing a robust framework for the implementations of the above-discussed problem solving mechanisms, so as to make the scheme a success in the country. The service providers also need to come forward on humanitarian ground, which may decrease the tensions between them and the policy makers, thereby making the rolling out of the scheme wholesome and efficient.
Abc.net.au. (2017). NDIS rollout plagued with problems, FOI documents reveal. ABC News. Retrieved 3 November 2017, from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-12/ndis-rollout-plagued-with-problems-foi-documents-reveal/8346892
Abc.net.au. (2017). 'We have grave concerns': Trouble ahead for the NDIS?. ABC News. Retrieved 3 November 2017, from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-03/ndis-there-could-be-trouble-ahead-after-problems-in-act/8157662
Baker, A. (2012). The New Leviathan: A National Disability Insurance Scheme. Sydney: Centre for Independent Studies.
Biddle, N., Al-Yaman, F., Gourley, M., Gray, M., Bray, J. R., Brady, B., ... & Montaigne, M. (2012). Indigenous Australians and the National Disability Insurance Scheme: the extent and nature of disability, measurement issues and service delivery models. Canberra, Commonwealth of Australia.
Duckett, S., & Willcox, S. (2015). The Australian health care system (No. Ed. 5). Oxford University Press.
Fawcett, B., & Plath, D. (2012). A national disability insurance scheme: What social work has to offer. British Journal of Social Work, 44(3), 747-762.
Jan, S., Essue, B. M., & Leeder, S. R. (2012). Falling through the cracks: the hidden economic burden of chronic illness and disability on Australian households. Med J Aust, 196(1), 29-31.
Ncoa.gov.au. (2017). 9.2 The National Disability Insurance Scheme. Ncoa.gov.au. Retrieved 3 November 2017, from https://www.ncoa.gov.au/report/appendix-vol-1/9-2-national-disability-insurance-scheme.html
O’Connor, M. (2014). The National Disability Insurance Scheme and people with mild intellectual disability: Potential pitfalls for consideration. Research and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 1(1), 17-23.
Salomon, J. A., Vos, T., Hogan, D. R., Gagnon, M., Naghavi, M., Mokdad, A., ... & Farje, M. R. (2012). Common values in assessing health outcomes from disease and injury: disability weights measurement study for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. The Lancet, 380(9859), 2129-2143.
Soldatic, K., van Toorn, G., Dowse, L., & Muir, K. (2014). Intellectual disability and complex intersections: Marginalisation under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Research and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 1(1), 6-16.
World Health Organization. (2012). World Health Day 2012: ageing and health: toolkit for event organizers.
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