Consultation opens on a modernised Disability Services Act

The Albanese Labor Government will continue its support for people living with disability in Australia by launching the first major review of the Disability Services Act since 1986.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth has opened the Act for public consultation to ensure it is fit-for-purpose, modern and best meets the needs of the one in six Australians living with disability. 

“Comments on the proposed changes are welcome from anyone. First and foremost, this includes people with disability, but also includes family members, carers, advocates, service providers, peak bodies and organisations,” Minister Rishworth said.

“This is your opportunity to have your say about how disability and disability services are defined in law. It’s important we look to how we can improve all our systems to make sure all people living with disability, not just those connected to the NDIS, get the right level of support.”

The Act governs how the Government provides services for people with disability to improve their independence and participate in community and economic life.

The new Act will also provide a basis for continued supports and services outside the National Disability Insurance Scheme for people living with disability.

As part of our reform of the Disability Employment Services program, the Albanese Labor Government allocated $400,000 for consultation and modernisation of the Disability Services Act in last month’s budget. 

“We are seeking input to ensure we are meeting our obligations to promote the equal and active participation of all people with disability,” Minister Rishworth said. 

The new Act will assist to address priorities in Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-31, the national disability policy framework.

“It will also better align with Australia’s commitment under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” Minister Rishworth said. 

The consultation is an opportunity for the Government to hear from people with disability about: 

  • What the objects of the Act should be, including whether it should set out Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 
  • Who the new Act could enable the Government to support 
  • How the Government should be defining disability in legislation and seeing what language we should use 
  • How the legislation should deal with quality and safeguarding standards 
  • What type of supports and services could be funded under the Act 

As a result of the consultation – and what the Government hears through the consultation – a new disability Act could: 

  • Better reflect Australia’s human rights obligations and ensure that people with disability are involved in the planning and design of any future services and supports 
  • Clarify the regulation of services for people with disability, to make it easier for businesses and organisations while also ensuring strong and effective standards 
  • Allow the Government to provide a broader range of tailored services and supports to people with disability, including First Nations or LGBTIQA+ Australians with disability, to ‘future proof’ policy and funding decisions.

Consultation on modernising the Disability Services Act is open until December 20 on DSS Engage.