As part of the National Disability Strategy, the Australian Government has commissioned an Inquiry into a long-term care and support scheme for people with disability in Australia.
Governments around Australia make a major contribution to support for people with disability but there remains a significant level of unmet demand for disability services which impacts upon the lives of people with disability, their families and carers.
The disability support system faces pressures on several fronts. There is a growing number of people with disability - the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that around 2.3 million Australians will have a high level of disability by 2030 - and an expected decline in the availability of informal care.
While Australia's social security and universal health care systems provide an entitlement to services based on need, there is currently no equivalent entitlement to disability care and support services.
Calls for a feasibility study on a long-term care and support scheme have come from a cross-section of society, from unions to disability advocacy groups, from medical associations to carers' representatives, as well as from individuals living with disability or in a caring role. These groups have argued that a new approach is needed to tackle the disability challenges of the future.
Advocates have argued that a long-term care and support scheme would deliver incentives for early intervention, provide certainty for people with disability and their families and encourage efficiency in the disability services system.
The Productivity Commission is undertaking the Inquiry, which will examine a range of approaches for providing long-term care and support. It will include consideration of the costs, benefits and feasibility of a no-fault social insurance model. An Associate Commissioner with particular expertise and knowledge in this area has been appointed to the Productivity Commission.
The Productivity Commission's Inquiry began in April 2010 and will report by July 2011. Terms of Reference for the inquiry are available. The Government has also established an independent panel of people with expertise and knowledge of disability issues to advise Government and the Productivity Commission during the Inquiry.
Why an Inquiry?
The appointment of the Productivity Commission to undertake the Inquiry recognises that this is a complex area of public policy which requires detailed consideration.
A range of important issues need to be examined, including: the design and parameters of any long-term care and support scheme; financing issues; service delivery and workforce issues; the interface with existing major areas of service delivery; the potential impact on Commonwealth and state/territory responsibilities for the provision of services and support; the impact on carers; the interface with existing workers' compensation, medical indemnity insurance and third party motor vehicle insurance arrangements; necessary changes to legislation and options for governance.
A serious examination is required including extensive modelling and analysis of interactions with other existing service systems such as health, aged care and income support.
The Inquiry will assess whether a long-tem care and support scheme would be appropriate, practical and economically responsible in the Australian context.
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What will the Inquiry do?
The Government is committed to finding the best solutions to improve care and support services for people with disability. The Productivity Commission will examine alternative approaches to funding and delivering disability services with a focus on early invention and long-term care by undertaking an Inquiry into long-term care and support. The Inquiry will assess the costs, including cost effectiveness, benefits and feasibility of an approach which:
- provides long-term essential care and support for eligible people with a severe or profound disability, on an entitlement basis;
- is intended to cover people with disability acquired early in life rather than as the natural process of ageing;
- calculates and manages the costs of long-term care and support for people with severe and profound disability;
- replaces existing funding for the eligible population;
- ensures a range of support options are available, including individualised approaches;
- provides care and support for each person taking into account their desired outcomes over their lifetime;
- includes a coordinated package of care services which covers accommodation support, aids and equipment, respite, transport and a range of community participation and day programs available for a person's lifetime;
- assists the person with disability to make decisions about their support; and
- provides supports for people to undertake employment where possible.
The Inquiry will consider costs, implementation and design issues, governance arrangements and administrative issues, including for a social insurance model that reflects a shared risk of disability across the population.
How much will a long-term disability care and support scheme cost?
The Productivity Commission Inquiry will examine a range of options and approaches, including international examples, for the provision of long-term care and support for people with severe or profound disability.
The Inquiry will model and examine in detail the costs and benefits of any scheme. Costs will depend on the type of scheme proposed including eligibility and the range of assistance to be provided, as well as the projected offsets from improved outcomes for people with disability and their carers and more efficient services.
What is the Independent Panel?
The Independent Panel has been established by the Government to act in an advisory capacity to the Productivity Commission and the Government. It includes individuals with a lived experience of disability and caring for people with disability, and with relevant professional expertise.
How can we get involved?
The Productivity Commission has held public hearings in capital cities and has already received hundreds of submissions. Before preparing its final report, the Commission will release a draft report early next year setting out what they are thinking of recommending to the Government. People can then provide their views on the draft report through further submissions and/or attendance at a second round of public hearings.
To receive updates about the consultations, information about how to make a submission and other Inquiry-related issues,you may wish to submit your details to the Productivity Commission's Interested Party List online at Productivity Commission website.
Alternatively, you can email email@example.com, or phone Roberta Bausch on (02) 6240 3221.
Freecall for regional areas is 1800 020 083. If you are deaf, or have a hearing impairment or speech impairment, contact the Productivity Commission through the National Relay Service National Relay Service website.
TTY users phone 133 677 then ask for (02) 6240 3221. Speak and Listen users phone 1300 555 727 then ask for (02) 6240 3221. Internet relay users connect to National Relay Service website ask for (02) 6240 3221.
When will the Government respond to the inquiry?
When the Commission reports to Government in July 2011, the Government will carefully consider the findings and chart a path for the future of disability support in Australia.