CALL TO OVERHAUL DISABILITY SUPPORT

People with a severe disability will be guaranteed a lifetime of support and care under a proposal expected to cost governments more than $12 billion a year.

A draft report by the Productivity Commission into disability found the current support system is underfunded and unsustainable, and fails to meet the actual needs of many.

 

The cost of long-term care put families in a “life-long period” of financial hardship, the report said, noting that private insurance was largely unaffordable.

 

The report has recommended that two no-fault insurance schemes be set up by 2018 to cover people born with a disability or who acquire it through injury, accident or illness.

 

The smaller of the two proposals is similar to state-based injury insurance schemes that cover people who acquire a disability through vehicle accidents.

 

The larger, federally funded Medicare-style scheme will provide long-term care and support for people born with significant disability.

 

Things like personal care, respite, accommodation, transport subsidies, therapy, aids and equipment would be included, but income support would not.

 

An estimated 360,000 people would be covered under the proposal that will require at least a doubling of the $6.2 billion spent by governments in the area each year.

 

A significant boost to the stretched disability workforce will also be needed, a skills shortfall the commission expects can only be addressed through wage increases.

 

The report suggests the “manageable and feasible” cost could be met through increased taxes or savings, but has left the ultimate funding model up to government.

 

Also, the report has recommended a gradual implementation, beginning in 2014.

 

For the full article: Sydney Morning Herald

 

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