The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides financial support to persons with impairments and their carers (Parliament of Australia. 2020). This paper will provide a brief history of NDIS, key moments of change in the policy, and key social and political drivers of that change. The ideological influences apparent in NDIS policy today will be discussed. An example will be provided of similar welfare to the policy. Lastly, the extent to which NDIS policy contributes to a more “socially just” Australia will be evaluated.
Brief history, the key change in the policy, and drivers of the change
The “Disability Care Australia” was changed to NDIS when the new administration assumed office. The Gillard Labor Government launched the NDIS on July 1, 2013. On the 1st of July 2016, the NDIS was introduced to the public in Australia (Parliament of Australia. 2020). Given that it is the most important change to Australian social policy, the NDIS indicates how the nation is concerned with enhancing living standards for people with disability. The NDIS Act 2022 became law on April 8, making several changes to the previous legislation (Australian Government Department of Social Services. 2022, May 19). Changes included extending the period from 28 to 90 days, within which prospective participants can submit additional information supporting their access request. Likely, it required the Agency to explain reasons whenever it reviews a decision subject to appraisal. The NDIS recognizes the importance that people with disabilities bring to the process of co-designing services and the interaction between persons with disabilities, their families, and the professionals who provide care for them.
For the benefit of NDIS participants, the NDIS Amendment Act of 2022 granted the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) the power to streamline and modernize the agency’s processes. In July 2022, the Agency was permitted to modify NDIS plans at the request of participants and their authorized representatives in some cases without having to create a new plan (Parliament of Australia. 2020). Introducing this policy shift was crucial in bringing about the desired results. These changes expedited the process through which participants might get extra services without requiring a thorough evaluation of their plans.
Ideological influences in NDIS policy
The term “ideology” refers to a set of beliefs about a society that a group of individuals shares and use to justify certain social or political actions (Freeden, 2021). The occurrences and difficulties of social life can be understood through the lens of ideologies. Therefore, they allow individuals and groups to locate themselves in the larger social context. Collectivism, a form of socialist ideology, holds that the government is responsible for sharing funds and material goods among needy citizens (Larson, 2021). This contributes to fair living standards among citizens, including people with disabilities. The NDIS covers disability-related costs in Australia (Foster et al., 2022). People deemed to have a “permanent and major” disability are entitled to full reimbursement of all reasonable and necessary assistance requirements related to their impairment under the NDIS.
The NDIS was also formed based on a strong neoliberal ideology. As part of the NDIS, the neoliberal idea of privatization has been further implemented, with state governments dismantling publicly funded disability care and support groups instead of contracting with the private or non-profit sector (Azevedo et al., 2019). One application of neoliberal ideology to the NDIS is the free-market system, which has led to the commercialization of care and services and turned the NDIS into a system always looking for new ways to boost its earnings. Neoliberal ideology is likely used to enforce a workforce cap on the agency, which would minimize public spending.
An example of a similar welfare regime’s response
National Disability Agreement (NDA) system ensured that persons with disabilities and their caregivers were treated equally in society and enjoyed better living conditions before the formation of NDIS (Parliament of Australia. 2020). The Disability Ministers in Australia agreed to develop a new National Disability Reform Agenda. According to this plan, people with disabilities and their support networks would be prioritized in national service delivery (Hayward et al., 2019). The new National Disability Reform Agenda would seek consistency in delivering programs and services across different jurisdictions. This would be done by introducing national resources to categorize service standards, plan for varying needs, recognize people who are at risk, emphasize lifelong organization, individualized funding, and better networks to other service schemes. As of 2011, the Council of Australian Governments had determined that reform was necessary for Australia’s disability sector. The NDIS largely replaced the system of care and assistance for handicapped individuals that was under the NDA (Parliament of Australia. 2020). The Australian federal government is now responsible for funding and administering programs that help people with disabilities find gainful work and provide employment assistance for people with disabilities. The responsibility for ensuring that people with disabilities have access to the community and necessary support in the form of advocacy, information, community support, respite care, community support, community access, and accommodation support rests with the different states and territories.
NDIS’s contributes to a more socially just Australia
Social justice refers to the fair and equitable allocation of a society’s resources, opportunities, and advantages (Romero, 2020). All members of society should have the same opportunity to benefit from the resources made available to them by the larger society. In Ambedkarism theory of social justice, Ambedkar defines social justice as a social order in which everyone is given their proper social place (Hantal, 2022). Principles associated with this outlook can include acting morally upstanding, treating people with dignity, refraining from harming others, and giving each individual the respect they are entitled to. According to the theory, the NDIS offers financial support that allows people with disability to become more self-sufficient, spend more time with their loved ones, learn new skills, find employment, or volunteer in their communities, and generally enhances the quality of their lives (Boaden et al., 2021).
In Rawls’ theory, social justice defining characteristics include the belief that economic inequality is acceptable if it benefits those in the society (Joseph, 2020). Everyone should have the same unalienable right to the most comprehensive basic rights consistent with the universal norm. According to the theory, the NDIS links persons with impairments to local resources. For example, local medical practitioners and community groups may be introduced due to increasing treatment and interactions. Because of the NDIS, almost 500,000 persons with disabilities can access the necessary care. Assisting children with disabilities will positively impact their life for the rest of their time.
In conclusion, one of Australia’s most transformative societal shifts is the NDIS, the country’s disability insurance program. It empowers people with disabilities to make their own decisions and boosts the economy by opening up fresh avenues for commerce and employment. This paper has provided a brief history of NDIS, key moments of change in the policy, and key social and political drivers of that change. The ideological influences apparent in NDIS policy today have been discussed. An example was provided of similar welfare to the policy. Lastly, the extent to which NDIS policy contributes to a more “socially just” Australia was evaluated.
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