The Commonwealth and Western Australian Governments today agreed to commence the final negotiations, on a no prejudice basis, on a nationally consistent but state-run National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Today's announcement provides a firm basis for further negotiations toward a final bilateral agreement on a WA-delivered NDIS model which would meet Commonwealth conditions for national consistency, with the NDIS transition to begin on 1 July 2017.
Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, said the Commonwealth and WA Governments were equally committed to national consistency on key elements of the NDIS such as choice and control, and the Commonwealth is open to a locally-administered model run by the WA Government.
"While it remains the Commonwealth's strong preference for WA to join the NDIS on a similar basis to other states and territories, I acknowledge WA's firm commitment to a WA-delivered model that builds on WA's existing disability service system," Mr Porter said.
"The people of Western Australia deserve an NDIS that is effective, sustainable and nationally consistent. The Commonwealth is willing to consider a locally-run NDIS that incorporates the current WA disability system.
"The Commonwealth has stipulated 11 clear conditions that must be met in a WA-administered scheme, and the WA Government has agreed to those parameters.
"Those fixed conditions include national consistency for key elements such as eligibility and access, the WA Government funding 100 per cent of the administration and operating costs, and clear sharing of governance responsibilities.
"We will now work closely with the WA Government to negotiate a bilateral agreement that consolidates the detail, recognising that these negotiations are complex and it's important to get them right – including ensuring national consistency.
"While the timeframes are challenging, we continue to aim for the NDIS transition to start on 1 July 2017 as planned."
Western Australian Minister for Disability Services, Donna Faragher, said both governments were committed to the wellbeing of people with disability and were working closely to finalise the full scheme model.
"The lives of people with disability, their families and carers, are being changed for the better by the NDIS," Mrs Faragher said.
"The Western Australian Government is strongly committed to the NDIS and is clear that eligibility criteria, the provision of reasonable and necessary supports and, most importantly, choice and control for people with disability in WA will be the same as in all other States - facilitating a fully portable national system.
"We have a strong existing disability sector in Western Australia and we want to build on this with the delivery of a State-run NDIS which is nationally consistent.
"WA is vast and unique in geography and diversity and the NDIS we roll out here must meet the needs of all West Australians no matter where they live.
"I look forward to finalising the details in partnership with Minister Porter."
The Commonwealth will also negotiate arrangements for full scheme consistent with the arrangements with other jurisdictions, where the Commonwealth would make a capped, fixed per capita contribution for participants under the age of 65 and agree an escalation rate consistent with the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) response to the 2017 Productivity Commission's review of scheme costs.
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The 11 agreed elements under a future WA-delivered NDIS model
1. The WA-delivered model would operate under WA based legislation which must mirror key elements of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013, including with respect to:
a. access and eligibility;
b. reasonable and necessary support;
c. Quality and Safeguards framework; and
d. governance including Rules under the NDIS Act 2013.
2. WA contributing 59.4 per cent of care and support package costs for an agreed number of eligible participants each year for the transition period. The Commonwealth would contribute the remaining 40.6 per cent for care and support package costs.
3. WA and the Commonwealth would equally share the cost of all non-package related costs for information, linkages and capacity building supports and local area co-ordination.
4. WA funding 100 per cent of the administration and operating costs of the agency and any Board or Advisory Council established under WA legislation.
5. WA remaining responsible for quality and safeguards throughout the transition period.
6. WA funding 59.4 per cent of care and support package costs for non-Indigenous participants who turn 65 and Indigenous participants who turn 50, and choose to remain in the scheme, until such time that WA agrees to implement changes to roles and responsibilities in line with the National Health Reform Agreement 2011, including arrangements for cross-billing, budget neutrality and administration responsibility for over 65s in aged care and disability services transferring to the Commonwealth.
7. The Commonwealth funding a maximum of 25 per cent of the risk of any increase in costs associated with higher than expected participant numbers or higher package costs, with WA funding the remaining risk.
8. WA being responsible for managing the upfront cash flow risks of the agency in delivery of the WA delivered NDIS model.
9. The Commonwealth and WA equally sharing any savings due to lower than expected participant numbers and/or lower package costs. This will occur through a reversal of the funding mechanism available in other states, in that the Commonwealth will provide funding in arrears based on actual participants that have transitioned.
10. The Commonwealth and WA having shared responsibility for governance, including the appointment of any board or independent advisory committee.
11. Payments to WA from the DisabilityCare Australia Fund will be consistent with arrangements in other jurisdictions, noting the current proposal for proportional access presented at Disability Reform Council throughout 2016, and subject to the passage of required legislation.