ABC RADIO AM PROGRAM
INTERVIEW WITH LEXI METHERELL
15 February 2014
E & OE
Subject: National Disability Insurance Scheme
Figures were revealed this week showing the trials of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) are running above the budget.
The Federal Minister in charge of the NDIS, Senator Mitch Fifield, says he’s still committed to delivering the scheme in full.
But the Treasurer has flagged concerns that it’s blowing out as he looks to save money in the budget.
And a South Australian Minister says the administration of the NDIS could be privatised to save costs.
Senator Fifield says that’s already happening in part. Lexi Metherell reports.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is being trialled in four sites.
A report released this week showed in its second quarter of operation it was running 15 per cent higher than expected.
That’s down on the first quarter when the trials cost 30 per cent more than budgeted.
The Federal Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield has responsibility for the policy.
They’re early trends. There have only been two quarters of the NDIS trial sites to date, so you’ve got to be careful not to extrapolate to full scheme. Not all supports, for instance, are paid on a year in, year out basis. But it’s still important to look at those early results to keep a weather eye on the sustainability of the scheme.
Senator Fifield says he’s committed to delivering the scheme in full but his priority is to ensure its run as efficiently and efficiently as it can be.
South Australia’s Disabilities Minister Tony Piccolo says there are suggestions its administration could be privatised.
There are some rumours around the place suggesting that the scheme may, if you like, might be split into two. One will be the service delivery and the other will be the administration and they may be looking at ways to perhaps outsource the administration which obviously has some costs involved.
And have you had any confirmation of that from the Commonwealth?
No, not at all. This is just something that I’ve heard, if you like, on the grapevine. I haven’t heard anything from the Minister and certainly he has not made any comment like that but I just indicate that we’ve had organisations that have approached us to talk about what the cost of running the scheme is so clearly there might be a suggestion in the market place that may happen.
The NDIS is run by the NDIS Agency, which has a board which reports to all federal, state and territory minsters with responsibility for disabilities.
The agency is part of the Mitch Fifield’s Social Services portfolio.
There’s certainly costs in the administration and it may well be that the board of the NDIS Agency at some point in the future decide that there are certain administrative functions that could be contracted out. And in fact that’s already happened in Tasmania where Baptcare is providing the gateway service to the NDIS. And that’s something that was put in place under the former federal Labor government and the current Tasmania Labor government. So that’s already a part of the design of the scheme, is that there are administrative functions where, if it makes sense, then they could be contracted out.
South Australia’s Tony Piccolo has indicated he would be open to changing the administration of the scheme.
In terms of administration of the scheme, if it means you know, who handles the paperwork, someone else different, we can look at that. But in terms of service delivery on the ground, we expect the people to get what they were promised.
That’s South Australia’s Disabilities Minister Tony Piccolo ending Lexi Metherell’s report.
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