The NDIS can help pay for necessary therapies, such as physical therapy or speech therapy to perform daily activities. This may involve bringing in support staff to assist with day-to-day needs, such as personal care, cleaning, or food preparation. The NDIS should play a role in leveling the field and giving people with disabilities the same opportunities as people without disabilities.
Supporting NDIS participants to take up work generates taxable income for the economy, but there is also evidence that having good quality work can have positive implications for wider individual health and well-being, which could lead to reductions in expenditure in other areas of health care. government, such as health care.
The government recognizes that there is more to do to help NDIS participants find work. According to current figures, 23 percent of working-age NDIS participants report being in paid employment for two years or more. But one of the challenges for the NDIS is that it cannot accomplish everything alone. NDIS funding can help put people with disabilities into work, but it cannot change the view of employers who may discriminate against disabled people.
The NDIS can also help maintain employment for caregivers and family members. With the establishment of the NDIS, a significant number of unpaid carers have been able to return to work. For example, between 2016 and 2020, we saw an almost 10 percent increase in employment for caregivers of 0-14 year old NDIS participants. Caregiver roles are strongly gendered, with women making up nearly three-quarters of carers. Providing support for carers to take up paid work will also have an important impact on gender equality in the wider workforce.
Spending on the NDIS has an impact on participants, employees and families, but also spills over into other areas of the economy. Last year, Per Capita tried to piece together the different types of economic impact the NDIS has and estimates that for every dollar spent on the NDIS, $2.25 is returned to the economy. They argue that under-investment in the NDIS could lead to a significant reduction in jobs and ultimately Australia’s GDP.
People with disabilities are parents, friends, active community members who contribute to our society in countless ways. As a society, we can be proud to have such a world-leading program that supports people with disabilities to be full members of Australian society.
The federal government has brought forward the NDIS review to explore how we can make the scheme work more effectively. No doubt there will be discussions about the affordability and sustainability of the scheme as part of this process. Hopefully we can also hear some discussion about the many benefits of the NDIS and not just the cost.