New agreement on disability needed - Productivity Commission

The Productivity Commission has called for a new National Disability Agreement (NDA) between all Australian governments to promote cooperation, enhance accountability and clarify roles and responsibilities.


A new agreement would help to improve the wellbeing of people with disability, particularly those not covered by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), as well as their families and carers.


Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald said, “With so much focus on the NDIS, limited attention has been placed on achieving better outcomes for the many people with disability who are not supported through the NDIS.


There’s about 3.8 million people with disability in Australia who are not supported by the NDIS. Most people with disabilities are not and never will be covered by the NDIS yet their rights, needs and aspirations matter”.


The Productivity Commission identified in a report released on 1 February 2019 that the disability policy landscape has changed dramatically since the current agreement commenced a decade ago and much of what is in it is now outdated and irrelevant. In particular, the current agreement does not reflect the implementation of the NDIS or the National Disability Strategy.


“There has been very little progress in meeting previously agreed goals such as raising labour force participation rates for people with disability or improving the wellbeing of carers.


We have identified key gaps in the areas of advocacy services, support for carers, and supports for people with disabilities arising from mental health conditions, as well as access to community and inclusion programs,” Commissioner Fitzgerald said.


The Commission’s report concludes that a new, reinvigorated NDA could be a strong positive force to guide future disability policy, to promote better access to mainstream and disability services and to improve outcomes for people with disability.


The Commission recommends that the new NDA clearly set out the responsibilities of governments to provide disability services outside the NDIS, and to affirm the commitment of governments to address service gaps and barriers that people with disability face in accessing mainstream services.


“Improving the wellbeing of all people with disability, their families and carers requires a collaborative response from all levels of government, extending well beyond the NDIS to many other service systems such as housing, transport, health, justice and education,” Commissioner Fitzgerald said.


The Commission also recommends that the new NDA set out a single, strengthened national performance reporting framework, with progress towards the outcomes of the new NDA publicly disseminated via a new National Disability Report, to be tabled in Parliament every two years.


The full study report about the National Disability Agreement Review can be accessed from the Commission’s website at


3 February 2019.