Govt backflip: Over-65s will not be locked out of NDIS
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PEOPLE with disabilities will not be locked out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) when they turn 65, following a change of mind by the federal government.
After public consultations the government announced amendments to its legislation today. The legislation is being debated in the Lower House this week.
The Productivity Commission recommended an age limit of 65 for the NDIS to avoid duplication of services with the aged-care system. The government has now decided to dump the age limit and let people decide if they want to continue under the NDIS.
Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin cited the example of someone with a condition such as multiple sclerosis who could benefit from early intervention under the NDIS before they turn 65.
"That will help lessen the future impacts of their condition and improve their quality of life," she said.
However, the Combined Pensioners & Supperannuants Association of NSW said what remained unaddressed was what happened to people who acquired a non-age-related disability once they were over 65.
“Older people are still very much being discriminated against. All that is happening is that people will be allowed to continue on with NDIS funding once they reach 65 years of age but they must be part of the NDIS before 65," said senior policy adviser Amelia Christie.
The amendments also remove an onus on disabled people to seek compensation. The original legislation would have given the head of the NDIS transitional agency the legal power to require people with disabilities to take action to obtain compensation otherwise their care plans could be suspended. Instead the government will now allow the NDIS agency to take action on behalf of the person with a disability.
"If the agency takes action or takes over proceedings, any damages awarded for pain and suffering or future earnings would be returned to the person with a disability," Ms Macklin said.
"The agency would be able to recoup NDIS amounts which had been paid for care and support, and incidental costs."
Other amendments include specifying Australia's obligations under a UN convention on disabilities, ensuring the NDIS board receives actuarial advice to safeguard the scheme's sustainability.
The government will also establish an NDIS division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and an independent expert panel to advise the NDIS agency's merits review process.
The government's amendments pre-empt the release of a Senate inquiry report which is due to be tabled today.
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