Progress on the Disability Royal Commission and Disability reforms

The Albanese Labor Government continues its commitment to people with disability, today releasing a Progress Update in response to the Disability Royal Commission’s final report, along with publishing new Disability Employment Services guidelines.

The two releases coincide with a First Nations Roundtable to be held in Darwin today to canvas feedback to inform the Governments formal response to the final report of the Disability Royal Commission.

The Progress Update highlights the significant steps the Government has already taken to improve outcomes for people with disability while the Disability Royal Commission was running and the Government’s commitment to prioritise engagement and consultation with the disability community as it prepares its formal response to the Disability Royal Commission’s final report and considers connections with other disability reform.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said the Government will continue to take action to create more opportunities for people with disability and build a stronger ecosystem of supports.

“The Government is dedicated to creating a safe and inclusive Australia, where all people with disability are supported to thrive,” said Minister Rishworth.

“The Royal Commission handed down 222 recommendations after four and a half years of inquiry, and we must take the time to work with states and territories and the disability community to carefully develop a response that will create lasting change.”

The Government introduced several policies and programs during the Royal Commission’s proceedings, and further reforms are set to be delivered in the coming months.

Minister Rishworth said “we are taking tangible actions to improve access to employment for people with disability through reform to Disability Employment Services, including an immediate lift in quality, and have strengthened safeguarding arrangements for people with disability outside the NDIS through enacting the new Disability Services and Inclusion Act 2023”.

The Government is working closely with DES providers to increase the quality of services delivered by putting the views of people with disability at the centre and active monitoring and reporting of provider performance, as well as the introduction of new Quality Guidelines.

Under the new Quality Framework, DES providers will be rated on whether their services exceed expectations, meet expectations, or require further improvement. The Department of Social Services has analysed the National Standards for Disability Services audit results from 2023 against the relevant elements of the Disability Employment Services Quality Framework. Initial results indicate 85 per cent of providers are meeting requirements and 15 per cent need further improvement. Quality assessments commenced in January 2024 with initial assessments results due in the second half of the year.

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill Shorten recently announced a suite of measures in response to the Independent Review of the NDIS.

“The findings of the Disability Royal Commission and the NDIS Review highlighted that all governments must do more to foster a safer Australia for people with disability,” said Minister Shorten.

“We have established the NDIS Provider and Worker Registration Taskforce that will investigate how we can reduce the risk of harm and lift the quality of disability supports people with disability are accessing. We want to see a regulatory system that helps ensure no one is invisible or forgotten on the NDIS."

Minister Shorten said by working together to rebuild a modern user-friendly regulatory system, more workers, providers, family businesses and start-ups will be willing to sign up and meet the minimum requirements.

"Participants and providers will benefit from the new system being designed, which will ensure the level of regulation matches the risk. That gives participants more choices in the future."

The Commonwealth Disability Royal Commission Taskforce is driving the coordinated consideration of the final report by Government and ensuring that the diverse perspectives of people with disability, families and other stakeholders are understood and heard.

Hundreds of people with disability, representative and advocacy organisations and families have responded to a questionnaire or provided a submission during the recent public consultation period. This is in addition to other disability and stakeholder forums that are exploring potential responses to particular recommendations. These important perspectives will help inform the Government’s response to the final report.

Today in Darwin, First Nations disability stakeholders will meet with Minister Rishworth and Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney to provide their feedback.

“It is important our responses to the Royal Commission recognise the distinctive experiences of First Nations people with disability,” Minister Burney said.

“This is an opportunity for First Nations people to help inform government on the development of policies and programs.

“We will continue to partner with First Nations peak organisations so that we can find ways to improve outcomes for First Nations people with a disability.”

The final report of the Disability Royal Commission emphasised that creating a disability-inclusive Australia requires national action, with 85 of the recommendations joint between the Australian and state and territory governments.

“Strong national collaboration is crucial, and we’re working closely with all levels of government in areas of joint responsibility, and with the disability community, on the best way to drive better outcomes,” Minister Rishworth said.

More information on the Government’s consideration of the Disability Royal Commission is available on the Department of Social Services website.