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(Australia) One in five children have "disability, developmental concerns"

Dec 9, 2023, ABC News: The NDIS has many issues that need solving. The most pressing is what happens to the kids it cannot help https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-12-09/ndis-what-happens-to-kid-it-cant-help/103206530

One in five children in Australia have disability or developmental concerns, according to the Australian Early Development Census.

It seems a staggering number. But it is one of the key statistics that explains why the National Disability Insurance Scheme — 10 years into its life — has exploded in its cost and reached well beyond what was originally intended.

Confronting how best to assist that huge cohort of young Australians — whose disability or development concerns might range from profound physical disability to mild learning or developmental delays — requires all our systems to work together: the NDIS, the health system more broadly, and the education sector, for starters.

The review of the NDIS released this week covers a multitude of issues, including the market structures, inefficiencies and complexities of the scheme. There are rorts and profit gouging to be fixed; administrative mazes to be demolished; and a labour force to be trained and better regulated.

But what happens to the kids it can, or cannot, help is perhaps one of the pointiest of the issues it has had to confront.

A tricky message

That's because it involves confronting what isn't in the NDIS, as much as what is.

The large cohort of children on the autism spectrum who have joined the NDIS in much larger than expected numbers meant that there has been considerable anxiety among parents that the review — conducted by one of the scheme's original architects Professor Bruce Bonyhady and former public servant Lisa Paul — would seek to simply chuck them out.

That's meant a large part of the political task for NDIS minister Bill Shorten this week has been trying to reassure them that won't happen if they need its services.

It is a tricky message because a lot of what the review has to say is about building up an ecosystem around the NDIS which will compliment it but eventually return the scheme to one which was supposed to deal with those people with the most severe intellectual, sensory, physical or psychosocial disabilities.

That is, politely speaking, to direct a lot of the people who might now feel the only option they have is the NDIS to a range of services that don't really exist at the moment or only exist in a haphazard way....

The NDIS was the only option

The advent of the NDIS saw state and local governments largely abandon a lot of the services they once provided to people with disability.

The NDIS review aims to reverse that and make the systems work better together....

This wasn't only because it provided the financial support for the services they needed.

It has become the case that the demand for those services is such that you could only get an appointment to see someone like a developmental specialist if you had been accepted into the NDIS.

Once you were in the NDIS, you really wanted to stay there for the same reason....

The first thing that will need to happen is that the various levels of government — and different systems — will have to work properly together.

That starts with money.

The attraction to the states and territories of the NDIS was that the federal government agreed to cover the cost of its growth. That means the relative share of the states's contribution to the national disability bill has shrunk over time.

The review says that by 2032 the state's share of the cost will have shrunk to around 20 per cent.


Changing all the incentives in the scheme involves changing the way the cost of the scheme itself is shared, but also the way the costs of this new "ecosystem" of foundational supports and supports built into things like the education system are funded.

This week's national cabinet meeting was therefore a huge early breakthrough in getting the NDIS back on track.

The states agreed to lift their contribution to the NDIS by 8 per cent a year, instead of the current 4 per cent....

The idea is that if everyone is paying equal amounts of money towards the different parts of the system, the incentive to cost shift will disappear.

But the sheer size of the issues seem daunting.




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Florida also has (from my memory/very short and tiny time in the public school system) a horrid and substandard autism therapy system that basically gives you zero essential life skills and hopelessly drains caregivers' hard-earned money. Will the extreme rightwing and altright switch from TERF eugenics and denial of lifesaving medical services, to anti-disability eugenics and de-funding of ASD therapy services/shaming and jailing ASD parents (so many people/thousands of people want to jail parents of…


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