Welcoming the west to the NDIS

13 December 2017

Until today, the name of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was more an aspiration than a reality.

But with an agreement between the West Australian and Commonwealth Governments, Western Australia has now begun a path to join the NDIS by the end of 2018.

A few of you are wondering why it matters, while others thought WA was already part of the scheme.

In fact the WA Government had previously decided not to join the NDIS; and their change of tack today is *a very big deal*.

Here is why.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme was designed to provide for all Australians with a disability, everywhere.

Regardless of whether you live in a city or a remote inland outpost, or watch the sun reflected in the ocean at sunrise or sunset, the same disability support funding will soon be available to all, for the very first time.

One of the key promises of the NDIS was that support packages would become portable. With the WA decision to join the scheme, that has finally been delivered, for all Australians.

That’s not just fair and equitable, but it also means that people with a disability will be free to accept a job transfer interstate, or cross state or territory borders to move closer to a partner or family member, without putting their disability support package at risk.

This decision is also important because it delivers nationally consistent policy settings.

In effect it will become much easier to apply a national approach to resolving issues around the NDIS interface with mental health supports, pharmaceutical benefits and state-run health systems. This alone has the potential to reduce confusion, cost and complexity for people with a disability in dealing with these services, which they often do.

If this is such a great idea, why didn’t WA join the NDIS sooner?

The previous West Australian Government had chosen to run a separate state-funded and -governed version of the NDIS. This was because they were concerned about their ability to control federal spending of state-contributed funded, within the Scheme. It’s a fair concern, and one that all states and territories have grappled with. But thankfully all were able to put these concerns aside, to deliver a life-changing and nation-changing reform for people with a disability.

Living with a disability can often bring a fair share of unpredictability.

But in this at least, people with a disability, families of children with a disability, and carers, will now have a greater measure of certainty for the future, knowing that our national scheme finally covers all Australians.

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