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The NDIS: the potential power in having a partnership of economists and advocates. Bolstering the Advocate's Authority: the case for understanding the economics of disability rights . GRIFFITH NDIS SYMPOSIUM. Brisbane 3 FEBRUARY 2014.

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the ndis the potential power in having a partnership of economists and advocates

The NDIS: the potential power in having a partnership of economists and advocates

Bolstering the Advocate's Authority: the case for understanding the economics of disability rights.

GRIFFITH NDIS SYMPOSIUM. Brisbane 3 FEBRUARY 2014

This paper has been prepared by Dr Donna McDonald, Senior Lecturer Griffith University, with the considerable support, guidance and insights of Dr Jack Frisch, disability economist and Research Fellow, Griffith University.

context
CONTEXT

We are at the beginning of a National Disability Insurance Scheme to provide the reasonable and necessary supports that people with disability need to function independently as equal citizens in the community.

The reform is unique in Australia in promising a person-centred entitlement to people who satisfy the criteria for eligibility to the NDIS.

pyrrhus replied that one more such victory would utterly undo him
Pyrrhus replied … that one more such victory would utterly undo him

The launch of the NDIS may yet prove to be a Pyrrhic victory.

  • short on detail.
  • how the NDIS resolves the competing tensions between the economics of disability and the universal rights of people with disability is opaque.
  • while a battle has been won, the war for full disability entitlements, rights and quality of life continues.
issues
ISSUES
  • In February 2014, how the NDIS will achieve its aims still appears to be poorly understood by its putative beneficiaries—Australians with disability.
  • The disability wars? -the war between disability rights at all costs versus economic rationalism.
  • Informed advocacy <> conviction-led advocacy.
reform features 1
REFORM FEATURES.1

1.It is not a pension or income support scheme.

  • The NDIS is a government-administered insurance organisation financed partly by a 0.5% income tax levy, and
  • partly from Commonwealth general revenue, and partly by continuing with some but not all existing State programs.
reform features 2
REFORM FEATURES.2

2.The control over how support-funds are spent shifts from service providers to individuals.

  • Instead of governments giving fixed grants to service providers based on periodic (either annual, biennial or triennial) funding submissions, funds are directly allocated to people with disability on the basis of their individual needs calculated over a lifetime.
reform features 3
REFORM FEATURES.3

3.The NDIS is unique among government programs in this “person-centred” approach.

  • Government entitlements are generally provided on a “tick-the-boxes” basis where individuals who tick the same boxes receive a common entitlement.
  • Under the NDIS, once an individual has passed the tests for eligibility, the dollar value of a package will vary according to the individual’s aspirations and the interaction of their disability with their community, informal supports and public infrastructure.
reform features 4
REFORM FEATURES.4

4. The Government’s claim about funding certainty comes to life.

  • Under the NDIS, Australians with disability should no longer be subject to the budgetary vagaries and priorities of service providers . . .
  • Or will they? This is still a moot point.
productivity commission
PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION
  • Productivity Commission's analysis of the benefits arising from the proposed NDIS was excellent

BUT

  • Its analysis of costs was deficient because they were based on current policy and subsidy criteria, and so dramatically underestimated the real-world costs facing people with disabilities
wrestling with the numbers
WRESTLING WITH THE NUMBERS

Disability economics:

  • distinguishes need from preference;
  • contextualises demand specifically, instead of assuming a single “normalised” context; and
  • focuses on the marginalised individual rather than the average individual.
case study 1 max transport
Case study 1: MAX & TRANSPORT
  • PC says: “A cost of $750 per annum equates to roughly one trip a fortnight at an average cost of $30 per trip (emphasis added), and $1500 per annum roughly equates to approximately one trip per week at an average cost of $30” (p. 775).
  • Max says: This doesn’t make sense. Commuting to work one-way by taxi to work is 10 trips per fortnight – and two-ways is 20 trips per fortnight. And the estimate of 1.5 trips per fortnight excludes travel for recreation and socialising.
case study 2 ruth attendant care
Case study 2: RUTH & ATTENDANT CARE
  • PC says: Ruth support needs means she scores “8” out of “24” and is entitled to $46,000 per year.
  • Ruth says: This is less than my current package, and does not allow for recreation assistance or anything other than early morning, lunch, dinner and bed support, plus 7 hours of housework type activities (laundry, cleaning, sorting mail) per week. Nor does it allow for the continuous training due to staff turnover, or the amount for unpaid care that I get from my family.
why does this matter
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?

Public policy and governance

  • Nature of the internal tensions could lead to a “blow-out” in expenditures which could in turn undermine the legitimacy of the NDIS in the eyes of the public or naysayers quick to say “I told you so.”

The world of the private individual

  • All parties need to come to the table fully informed so that they can argue the best case for their individual—as well as collective—rights, needs and entitlements.
advocacy authority
ADVOCACY AUTHORITY

Information is where the strength of advocacy authority lies.

  • Information and strategy will sustain us in the continuing war for disability rights.