Government takes action to support National Relay Service transition

The Morrison Government has today registered a formal legal instrument to give it additional powers to compel the outgoing provider of the National Relay Service (NRS), Australian Communications Exchange (ACE), to support CapTel captioned telephone handset users to transition to alternate services. TheTelecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) (National Relay Service Rules) Determination 2019 requires ACE to provide information to the Department of Communications and the Arts on request to help transition CapTel users to the new NRS provider, Concentrix, including information about current CapTel users. Despite repeated requests from Government, ACE has not provided details of CapTel users to the Commonwealth. “It is surprising and disappointing that it is necessary to take this step” the Hon Paul Fletcher, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts“I would have expected greater cooperation from ACE in either providing the information or seeking it from other parties, to allow the Government to give comprehensive information to CapTel users about the wide range of service options they will have under the NRS as we transition from ACE to a new provider”. The contract with ACE was originally negotiated by the Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency (TUSMA), established by then Labor Communications Minister Stephen Conroy in 2013. TUSMA failed to include a contractual provision giving the responsible Minister, or the Commonwealth, critical information detailing the location of CapTel handsets and contact details for current CapTel users.Concentrix was chosen as the new provider following a competitive selection process in which ACE also participated. “The Morrison Government is committed to maintaining a world-class relay service that meets the needs of key user groups amongst the hearing and speech impaired communities – those who speak, those who text and those who communicate through Auslan” Minister Fletcher said. The Determination also provides that the Commonwealth may request ACE to communicate to CapTel users about the handset being discontinued as part of the NRS from 1 February 2020 and to recommend they contact the NRS Helpdesk to explore alternatives to meet their individual needs. Authorised by the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Sydney.The Government encourages all NRS users to contact the NRS Helpdesk with any queries about the coming transition to the new provider. The helpdesk is available Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm AEST except for national public holidays via phone (1800 555 660), TTY (1800 555 630), SMS ( 0416 001 350) or email (helpdesk@relayservice.com.au).

NDIS Question Time - 20/09/2019

National Disability Insurance SchemeMr MARLES(Corio—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:18):My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer admit that the government's decision to understaff the NDIS is preventing Australians with a disability from getting the care they need? Why has the government propped up its budget by deliberately underspending $4.6 billion on the National Disability Insurance Scheme?

Mr FRYDENBERG(Kooyong—The Treasurer) (14:18):I can confirm that there are 11,000 people helping to deliver the NDIS and that, in the last year, 115,000 Australians came onto the NDIS. There are now 300,000 Australians on the NDIS and, as the Acting Prime Minister said, more than 100,000 of them are getting support for the first time. The reality is that the NDIS has increased tenfold in the three years of transition, and everyone who has an approved program is getting support under a fully-funded NDIS. In 2018-19 we doubled the funding for and the spending on the NDIS to $8½ billion from $4 billion a year prior.The Labor Party knows all too well that only the coalition can deliver budget surpluses. Only the coalition can fund the services, like the NDIS, that Australians need and deserve.

Mr SHORTEN(Maribyrnong) (14:25):My question is to the Treasurer. I refer to nine-year-old Angus, whose family were left to transport him around the family farm in a wheelbarrow because the National Disability Insurance Scheme could not approve and provide him with a wheelchair for 12 months. Isn't Angus just one victim of the government's $4.6 billion underspend on the National Disability Insurance Scheme?

Mr FRYDENBERG(Kooyong—The Treasurer) (14:26):The member for Maribyrnong would be aware that, in 2017-18, there was $4 billion spent on the NDIS.The member for Maribyrnong would be aware that, in 2018-19, there was $8½ billion spent on the NDIS.The member for Maribyrnong would be aware that everybody who has an approved program within the NDIS is fully funded by this government. The member for Maribyrnong would be aware that there are now over 300,000 people in the NDIS, over 100,000 of whom aregetting support for the first time—115,000 people came onto the NDIS in the last year alone. As the former Leader of the Opposition, the member for Maribyrnong would also be aware—just like the member for Rankin, when he was learning at the feet of Chairman Swan—that the NDIS is a demand driven program, just like hospitals and the PBS. I announced in April this year an extra $1.9 billion for hospital funding because of the demand. In the numbers that were announced today there is an extra $700 million for the PBS because it is a demand driven program. But an inconvenient truth for the Labor Party is that, in their last budget, they had underspends of $500 million for carers and $400 million for veterans. In their last MYEFO, they had underspends of $1½ billion for schools and $1½ billion for hospitals. The reality is that NDIS funding has more than doubled on our watch, it is rolling out to nearly 500,000 people, and everyone who has an approved plan will get fully funded by this government.

Dr CHALMERS(Rankin) (14:32):My question is to the Treasurer. Why won't the Treasurer admit that today's budget outcome would not be possible without making Australians with a disability wait for the care that they need and deserve and that they were promised so that he can add $4.6 billion to his budget bottom line?Mr FRYDENBERG(Kooyong—The Treasurer) (14:32):Because the member for Rankin's claim is not true.

Urgent review needed to close cost of living gap and broaden eligibility for Disability Support Pension (DSP)

Urgent review needed to close cost of living gap and broaden eligibility for Disability Support Pension (DSP)

Disability advocates and researchers are calling for urgent reforms to the Disability Support Pension, with a new report to be released today showing people with disability spend $107 a week more on basic living costs such as transport and healthcare than Australians without disability.

The NATSEM report into the standard of living for people with disability is one of three new studies by Australian Universities that will be launched at Parliament House today to highlight the economic and health impacts of disability, particularly for Indigenous Australians.

AFDO and its partners are concerned that successive Governments have made meeting the eligibility threshold so burdensome and difficult that many people with disability, who may have been eligible in the past, can no longer access the DSP.

More than 200,000 Australians with disability now receiving the lower Newstart allowance and tens of thousands of people are not receving any support at all.

The NATSEM report[1] found that

  • The income gap between households with disability and households without is $107 a week for a household with an adult member with disability.

  • Two of every five Indigenous households relying on the DSP as their source of income ran out of money for basic living expenses in the last 12 months.

  • To close the gap in household income to provide the same standard of living, families already receiving the DSP would need $183 more per week on average, and $343 for 200,000 people with disability receiving Newstart

  • If the Government spent an additional $3.1 billion a year on the DSP then the gap in the standard of living of households already on the DSP would nearly halve.

$62 million in grants available for Australians with disability to live more connected lives

$62 million in grants available for Australians with disability to live more connected lives

The Morrison Government has announced applications are now open to share in $62 million worth of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grants.

Two ILC grants rounds are now open: Mainstream Capacity Building program ($32m available) and Economic and Community Participation program ($30m available).

Rights of people with disability routinely ignored: new report

Rights of people with disability routinely ignored: new report

Australia is failing many people with disability, says a new comprehensive report released today.

“People with disability across Australia have told the United Nations, in a new report, about the widespread hardship, discrimination, violence and poverty they face every day,” said Ms Carolyn Frohmader, Executive Director of Women With Disabilities Australia, and member of Disabled People’s Organisations Australia.