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The NDIS came from people with disability and united governments

In 2010, people with disability, their families and carers and service providers joined forces to create Every Australian Counts - a grassroots campaign that drew on support from more than 200,000 ordinary Australians. Every Australian Counts galvanised public and political support for the NDIS.

Later in 2011, the Productivity Commission released its landmark Inquiry into Disability Care and Support - finding the existing disability services system was “underfunded, unfair, fragmented, and inefficient”.3

The Productivity Commission recommended a disability insurance scheme to provide individual budgets to meet the reasonable and necessary support needs of people with significant and permanent disability. The individual supports were to be built on a firm foundation of community and mainstream supports for all people with disability. This model was intended to empower participants to participate in their community and have choice and control over their supports.

On 1 July 2013, the NDIS was launched with unanimous support from all political parties and all Australian governments. Its introduction was a public policy miracle based on a collective desire to change Australia for the better. It was a practical demonstration of the nation’s desire to realise its commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The national rollout of the NDIS was completed on 1 July 2020, just three years ago.

In the space of a decade, the NDIS went from an idea, to changing lives for the better. The realities faced by people with disability were moved from the political margins to become the core business of all governments and a headline issue in national affairs. The introduction of the NDIS embedded Australia’s obligations under the UNCRPD in legislation.

Most importantly, more than 610,000 people now receive life changing support - including almost half who have never received support before.4

The NDIS is world leading in its development and design but people with disability are marginalised globally. The NDIS was introduced at a time when many other countries were reducing support for people with disability after the global financial crisis. Its progress is also being watched carefully around the world, to see how greater investment and support through a social insurance approach can deliver both economic and social benefits.