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Australia: Co-design Must Be Genuine, Our Lives Depend On It: PWDA Responds To The NDIS Reform Bill

Major reforms to the National Disability Insurance (NDIS) have been introduced to parliament today by Minister for the NDIS Bill Shorten. People with Disability Australia (PWDA) have responded with a call for genuine co-design to refine the legislation to ensure the reforms reflect the needs of the people they’re designed for.

PWDA will be analysing the proposed legislation in full and using the upcoming consultation process to represent the views of our members and the disability community.

PWDA President Marayke Jonkers has emphasised people with disability have expressed some concern.

“No one is more interested in the NDIS being sustainable and viable than people with disability. Our lives depend on it. People with disability and NDIS participants are worried about what these changes will mean for their lives and the supports we rely on to fully participate in the community.

“Unpacking the legislation is going to take some time. We stand ready to work constructively with government to ensure the concerns of people with disability are heard and addressed. We can’t lose access to critical supports. We can’t lose our funding. And we must not be directed to systems that aren’t ready, aren’t tested, and aren’t funded,” Ms Jonkers said.

Getting the legislation and the implementation of reforms right will rely on genuine co-design with people with disability and their representative organisations, which Minister Shorten today stated will take place over 18 months.

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“Co-design isn’t having conversations behind closed doors. It’s drafting workable legislation with people with disability. Today’s promise of co-design must be delivered. That means the refinement of this legislation must happen out in the open with people with disability leading the way and the plans for how it’s implemented,” Ms Jonkers said.

The legislation relies on the uplift to mainstream services and development of foundational supports agreed at National Cabinet in December 2023. PWDA is deeply concerned that the states and territories are dragging their feet on delivering on their commitment.

“Our states and territories need to deliver on the promises they made to disabled people. That they’d do better on foundational supports and mainstream services and ensure the 88 per cent of people with disability who aren’t on the NDIS have somewhere to go. The sooner this happens the better people’s lives will be,” Ms Jonkers said.

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