On 1 July 2020, the NDIS celebrated its seven year anniversary. This also marked completion of the staged national geographical rollout of the NDIS, with Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands joining the Scheme.
While the implementation of the NDIS started in 2013 in seven trial sites across Australia, 1 July 2016 marked the start of the Transition Phase and the rapid expansion of the Scheme. At the end of the Trial period, the Scheme was geographically available to only eight per cent of the Australian population in specific geographies.
As at 30 June 2020, the Scheme is now available to all Australians, irrespective of where they live. Almost 30,000 participants entered the Scheme in the first three years of operation, while over the subsequent four years of transition, another 362,280 participants gained entry to the Scheme. This brought the total number of participants at 30 June 2020 to 391,999. It is now truly a national Scheme.
Figure 2.1A: The number of active participants has increased from around 30,000 after three years of Trial, to nearly 392,000 four years later
The increase in participant numbers has led to an acceleration in the number of plan reviews. In 2019–20, the Agency undertook 332,070 reviews, compared to 205,163 reviews in 2018–19.
Figure 2.1B: The increase in participant numbers has led to an increase in the number of plan reviews
But the most important measure is the positive impact the Scheme is having on the lives of participants. Parents of children in the Scheme are seeing their child’s independence increase. Participants aged 15 to 24 are making more of their own decisions and are much more involved in the community. Participants over 25 are now in a better position to undertake activities that interest them. They also say that their access to health services has improved and that the time they have spent in hospital has decreased. These are small steps on the journey to far more significant improvements in the lives of people with disability.
Figure 2.1C: Reported participant outcomes
While the rate of participation in work for those in the Scheme continues to be stable, there are some marginal increases in employment for participants who entered the Scheme between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017 and have been in the Scheme for three years. More needs to be done to facilitate greater access to employment opportunities.
For participants who entered the Scheme between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017 and have been in the Scheme for three years, there was a:
- twelve percentage increase from 13% to 25% for participants aged 15 - 24 years
- two percentage decrease from 26% to 24% for participants aged 25+ years
- one percentage increase from 23% to 24% for participants aged 15+
For participants who entered the Scheme between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2018 and have been in the Scheme for two years, there was also a marginal increase in employment:
- six percentage increase from 15% to 21% for participants aged 15 - 24 years
- two percentage decrease from 25% to 23% for participants aged 25+ years
- an unchanged result of 23% for participants aged 15+
The lives of families and carers are also improving. More of them are in paid jobs, and they are seeing improved relationships with the services that assist with the care of their loved ones. Importantly, they are also seeing significant improvements in obtaining services that meet the needs of their loved ones and their needs as carers. This data is a strong indicator of the benefits of the Scheme, not just for participants but also for families and carers.
Figure 2.1D: Reported family and carer outcomes
The payments being received by individual participants have increased significantly over the last four years. Participants received an average of $50,800, as at 30 June 2020, up from $32,300 as at 30 June 2017. While this significant increase has benefits and challenges, it reflects changes in participant mix, as well as real increases in participant benefits. Moreover, the longer participants are in the Scheme, the more empowered they are to utilise their plan. The significant increase in the number of participants and in the average payment per participant has resulted in total Scheme payments increasing from $2.18 billion in the first year of transition (2016–17) to $16.11 billion* in 2019–20.
*This number reflects payments made during the 2019–20 year for support provided in the 2019–20 year and differs from the amount in the annual financial statements. This number will progressively increase and will be re-stated in subsequent quarterly reports to reflect payments made for supports provided in 2019–20 post 30 June 2020.
Figure 2.1E: Over the last three years, the Scheme has grown by more than seven times
The numbers in this chart reflect payments made for support provided in each financial year. For example, in 2018–19, $10,362.9m of support was provided to participants. As there is a lag between when support is provided and when it is paid, some of the support provided in 2018–19 was paid for in 2019–20—however, these payments are counted in the $10,362.9m in 2018–19 because this is when the support was provided. For 2019–20, the $16,114.9m is the support that has been provided in 2019–20 and paid for in 2019–20. The amount of support provided in 2019–20 is higher than the $16,114.9m as some support provided in 2019–20 had not been paid for by 30 June 2020 (when the data was analysed), and will be paid for post 30 June 2020.
3 This number reflects payments made during the 2019–20 year for support provided in the 2019–20 year and differs from the amount in the annual financial statements. This number will progressively increase and will be re-stated in subsequent quarterly reports to reflect payments made for supports provided in 2019–20 post 30 June 2020.
Payments to participants are flowing through a larger and more vibrant provider sector, with the number of providers having increased from 4,005 in 2017 to 14,882 in 2020. This four-fold increase in the number of providers has led to greater choice and control for participants, and expanding employment opportunities for the disability workforce.
Figure 2.1F: The number of providers actively supporting participants has grown by almost four times since 2017
To support the significant growth in the Scheme, the number of staff engaged through the NDIA and its partner organisations that directly serve participants has also increased from 4,564 as at 30 June 2017 to 11,550 by the end of the 2020 financial year.
Figure 2.1G: The NDIA staff and partner workforce has increased 2.5 times over the last three years
In summary, the past seven years—and particularly the last four—have seen the rollout of one of the most significant reforms in Australian history. The Scheme is now reaching people with disability in every region in Australia, and delivering life-changing improvements in their lives. At the same time, it is driving economic growth and providing more employment opportunities to support NDIS participants to achieve their goals. This reform is a critical boost to the Australian economy, when over 1.5 million jobs have been lost in recent months due the impact of COVID–19.