We need to change the focus when people speak of the NDIS. Often at the moment there’s a concentration on the cost of the scheme but instead people should look at what it seeks to achieve relative to the investment involved, is it achieving that (spoiler alert: it is) and what additional benefits does it bring long term?
The negative focus on cost drives me to question my own worth and that’s a bad thing to do as it can lead to a cycle of depression. Mental health has a big impact on physical health and when I feel good about my own value to the world around me I get more benefit from any physical therapy I do.
I guess I could be grateful in a way because use of cheap clickbaity anti-NDIS, “unsustainability” arguments caused me to do research on the topic and I’m happy now to debate all comers who have questions about merits or value of the NDIS.
There are two principal arguments I base my confidence on. It feels often as if these are wilfully ignored by politicians and journalists: that the NDIS is an investment and that Australia gets a positive return on that investment.
First of all, I get nothing from the NDIS. It’s not welfare. Nothing is paid to me. I don’t get to save my NDIS budget and I won’t pass any of it on when I die. Every NDIS participant knows this but an unfortunate number of commentators seem not to. My NDIS budget is pre-approval of an amount I can spend on supports, therapies and sometimes capital items and if I spend on them I get to seek reimbursement from the NDIS. As far as the economy is concerned, I’m only a conduit.
Which brings me to the second point, I’m a very important conduit. For every dollar spent through the NDIS, it’s conservatively estimated Australia’s GDP grows by $2.25! Back in November 2021 a progressive think tank called Per Capita ran the numbers and published a detailed report (find it here). They looked both at the value added to Australia’s economy by the NDIS (people with disability whose functionality is improved so they can participate and contribute economically, jobs within the NDIA and NDIS, employment for support workers, therapists etc.) and the cost to Australia’s economy of any NDIS cutback. For every $1BN in reduced NDIS outlay, the unemployment rate would rise by 0.1% and Australia’s GDP would reduce by 0.14% (reduction of 0.22% in the services economy).
I have my own issues with the NDIS. I believe it should be run better and more efficiently. But I’m very happy to be confident in the value everyone’s getting from it as a government programme even now.