The disability sector is tipped to become a multi-billion dollar market with the proposal of a $12 billion insurance scheme, which seeks to treat disabled people as consumers rather than patients.
The Productivity Commission, which has released a draft report as part of its inquiry into care and support for disabled people, recommends the establishment of a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The report, titled Disability Care and Support, says an entirely new model is needed for providing support and services for people with disabilities, labeling the current “welfare” approach as underfunded, unfair, fragmented and inefficient.
Under the proposed scheme, all Australians would receive insurance cover in the event of significant disability. The NDIS would also offer quality assurance and diffusion of best practices among providers, and seek to break down stereotypes.
The NDIS would be similar to Medicare in that all Australians would know that they or their families would receive long-term care and support if they acquired a significant disability.
In the report, the Commission says the Federal Government should be responsible for funding the entire NDIS because the Government can raise taxes more sustainably and with few efficiency losses than state and territory governments.
“The scheme would commence in early 2014, commencing with a full scale rollout in a particular region in Australia,” the report says.
“The NDIS would cover the same range of supports currently provided, but would give people more opportunities to choose mainstream services and would encourage the development of innovative approaches to support.”
Access Information Media, an economic access solutions provider, says businesses should consider the scheme as a commercial opportunity.
“Imagine the sort of growth and innovation that a large-scale NDIS could inspire as more of [the] industry thinks about better ways to support people with a disability,” Ai-Media chief executive Tony Abrahams says
“While the NDIS funding must stay focused on its primary mission, broader benefits are certain to flow from innovations that make education, workplaces, sports and recreation facilities more accessible… Facebook apps beckon.”
Abrahams says technology and broadband have the potential to generate reforms that would deliver cost-effective services to disabled people, with Telstra already considering the scheme as a new source of revenue.
In its submission to the Commission, Telstra highlighted broadband as a useful way to keep disabled people linked with the community, health services and potential employment.
The Insurance Council of Australia and the Financial Services Council have also pushed for a disability scheme to use their members’ expertise in rehabilitating motor vehicle victims.
Businesses specialising in risk management, injury management and claims management could be contracted to perform the practical services paid by the scheme.
Meanwhile, the Housing Industry Association has signed a voluntary agreement to encourage its members to design and build houses that are disabled-friendly.