2017 - 2018 Federal Budget: information and opinion



The Australian Government provides information on budget measures by each portfolio - this page gives links to those relevant to the Department of Social Services, likely to be relevant to many people with disabilities and their carers:

Budget 2017-18
Australian Department of Social Services, 10 May 2017
  • Portfolio Budget Contents
  • Media releases
  • Fact sheets
The Australian Government Budget website also has more information about the Budget 2017-18.


Down Syndrome Australia response to Federal Budget 2017 - 2018

Down Syndrome Australia's CEO, Dr Ellen Skladzien provides this useful summary of tonight's Federal Budget, on items most relevant to Australians with Down syndrome and their families:

The most positive news for the disability sector in the budget was the decision to provide full funding to National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) through an increase in the Medicare Levy of 0.5 % from July 2019.  This will provide important funding for the Scheme going forward. It is likely to be controversial as it is basically a tax increase- but provides ongoing funding for NDIS and security for the scheme going forward.


One area of concern in the budget is a funding cut of $12 million to the Information, Linkages and Capacity building component of NDIS.  This is funding that supports organisations, like Down Syndrome organisations, that deliver information, referrals and peer support to people with disability. It is also the part of the scheme designed to assist people with disability who are not eligible for an individualised NDIS package of support. The Government has rationalised this by indicating it is due to WA not joining the national scheme.  However, given that the current level of ILC funding is extremely low compared to the required level of support required in the sector, it is disappointing to see this cut.

Other key budget measures for disability include:
  • $33 million dollar package to support aged care and disability workforce growth
  • $209 million to establish the Independent NDIS Quality and Safeguards commission
  • Investment in Disability Employment Services program over the next 4 years including funding to index payments, funding attached to individuals rather than service providers, and a trial to provide DES to children with a disability in their final years of schooling.
  • Changes to the residency requirements for the DSP and age pension.
There are also a range of health measures which will potentially have a positive impact on people with Down syndrome including:
  • Lifting the freeze on the indexation of the MBS and reversing the removal of bulk-billing for diagnostic imaging and the increase in PBS copayment and related charges
  • $165 million mental health package including $80 million for community psychosocial services
  • Investment in health research
  • Decision not to privatise Australian Hearing
There was also significant investment in education taking on the Gonski funding model.  This was announced in the lead up to the budget and has been somewhat controversial due to concerns about decreased funding to some private schools.

Overall there are some really positive outcomes; however, Down Syndrome Australia will continue to monitor the ILC situation- particularly if WA changes their approach to NDIS.


Disability sector commentary


Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) welcomes some big wins for people with disability in tonight’s Federal Government Budget, but is very concerned by the punitive approach to welfare support that will make life harder for those doing it tough, including people with disability.  “We are extremely pleased to hear that an increase in the Medicare levy will fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme and finally guarantee the support needs of people with disability”, said Ms Therese Sands, Director, DPO Australia. “The NDIS is a critical investment in our social infrastructure, an investment for all Australians, now and into the future” ... read the full media release here.
Every Australian Counts, 9 May 2017
Treasurer Scott Morrison tonight confirmed the government will fully fund the NDIS beyond 2019. 
In his Budget speech tonight, Mr Morrison announced the Commonwealth will increase the Medicare Levy from 2% to 2. from 2019 to help fund the NDIS. 
One fifth of the money raised by the Medicare levy, along with NDIS underspends and other savings will be channeled into the NDIS Savings Fund ... read the full media release here.
Carers Australia
11 May 2017
Carers Australia has produced a document outlining a number of the key measures in the recent Federal Budget which may affect unpaid carers. 
Please note that Budget measures must be passed by Parliament before they can come into effect.
Summary The Budget did not include any new measures that will directly affect carer support services or social welfare payments devoted to carers. 
Several measures were announced that relate to the interests of carers, including additional supports for the people to whom they provide care.
Every Australian Counts, 12 May 2017
The good news is this week both major parties have argued for fully funding the NDIS. The bad news is they aren’t agreeing on how. Here’s a run down ...


Media commentary on the 2017 - 2018 Federal Budget

Links compiled by People with Disability Australia, including mainstream media comment on budget measures likely to directly impact people with disabilities:
Budget 2017 sees Medicare rebate freeze slowly lifted and more funding for the NDIS: experts respondThe Conversation, 9 May 2017 
Federal budget: Medicare levy and taxes to fully fund National Disability Insurance SchemeThe Guardian, 9 May 2017 
Medicare levy slug for NDIS worthwhile, PMAAP/Yahoo 7, 10 May 2017 
2017 budget a 'responsible plan' that will lead to better days: Turnbull, Breakfast, Radio National, 10 May 2017 (audio file)
Welcome change of tack in health education and housing, but vilification of people who are unemployed continues,  Australian Council of Social Services, 9 May 2017 
'I'm not saying no to Gary': Treasurer reveals personal struggle behind NDIS budget decisionThe Age, 10 May 2017 
Federal budget 2017: The people (mostly women) the NDIS forgotJenna Price, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 May 2017

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