What the Federal Budget means for people with a disability

Dainie Richardson

 

Didn’t have time to watch the budget speech on Tuesday night?

Don’t worry - we’ve put together a handy summary of what it could actually mean for you.

The NDIS is here to stay

Before this budget, there was no guarantee that the NDIS would be fully funded. Now, we have funding assurance from both sides of the political fence.

It’s good news for all that the NDIS would not be funded by pension cuts.

Andrew Donne, Endeavour Foundation Chief Executive says it’s the green light that many people with a disability have been waiting for.

“Now, with security for the immediate future of their support arrangements, people with a disability - and carers - can breathe a sigh of relief and start to plan their personal road to greater independence, self-determination and choice,” Mr Donne said.

He believes the announcement will be ‘a welcome end to speculation’.

“For too long, the possibility of learning, work and increased independence has been put on hold as people feared the NDIS would be starved of funds before it ever got going,” Mr Donne said.

“Funding the NDIS is a budget commitment that all Australians can be proud of.”

Both political parties have voiced their strong committed to provide the funds that will see the NDIS through. The government proposes increasing the Medicare Levy from 2 to 2.5 per cent from July 2019 (with low-income earners exempted).  The opposition says there are other ways to fund the scheme, and propose a tax on high-income earners and an increased Medicare levy increase for people who earn more than $87,000 per annum.

The Treasurer, Scott Morrison says it’s important that everyone supports the disability scheme, even if they aren’t directly affected.

“We’ve got to fully fund the NDIS and I believe that Australia wants us to fill that gap,” Mr Morrison said.

“We’ve had a fight about funding for the NDIS now for several years. It’s time for the politics of that to end and we give disabled Australians the guarantee they deserve.”

Labor Leader, Bill Shorten said that people who rely on the NDIS will never go without the money they need.

“Working … to design and deliver the NDIS is one of the greatest privileges of my parliamentary career,” Mr Shorten said.

Health care could become more affordable

The latest budget is designed to enable more bulk billing and cheaper medications.

Over the past few years, you may have noticed fewer GPs bulk billing. This was in part due to a Medicare Rebate Freeze. Now, the government has proposed to gradually lift the freeze while the opposition wants it reversed immediately. Depending on how this plays out in the Senate, we hope you should start seeing more GP services bulk billing again soon.

A proposed injection of $1.2 billion could also deliver access to cheaper medicines and more of them. By listing new, cost-effective medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, it has the potential to increase public access to affordable medicines.

There is some relief for low income earners as well. Despite the increase to the Medicare Levy – which will help to secure the future of the NDIS – low income earners will continue to receive relief through the low income thresholds, and current exemptions from the Medicare Levy will also remain.

They’re addressing mental health

The government’s budget proposal for community mental health services addresses an issue we have been raised with government, regarding the funds for Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMS) and Partners in Recovery (PIR) being transferred to the NDIS. This led to genuine concerns that some people with psychosocial disability would be left without support, as not all will qualify for the NDIS.

However the government now proposes to spend $80 million over four years to maintain national community mental health services outside the NDIS,  contingent upon matching funding from state and territory governments.

Hold times for Centrelink might decrease

If you deal with Centrelink, chances are you’ve spent your fair share of time listening to their hold music. This budget has aimed to make communication with Centrelink easier.

The government has pledged $5.5 million worth of measures to cut red tape and improve information sharing.

They’ve also promised to employ a further 250 staff in hopes of slashing those call waiting times.

They’re going to look in to your electricity bill

The government is looking in to funding the ACCC to investigate and police competition in retail electricity and gas markets.

What does this mean?

It essentially means that they are plan to make sure that electricity and gas companies aren’t ripping you off when it comes to bill time. 

Other blogs and information you maybe interested in

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Discover guide to the NDIS

A practical, comprehensive guide to the NDIS, to help people understand the various components of the NDIS and how to access them.

 

NDIS FAQs and Glossary of Terms

A handy guide of NDIS FAQs and a glossary so you can familiarise yourself with NDIS language before your planning meeting.

 

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