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Review of the National Disability Agreement

Study report

This report was released on 1 February 2019. It has found that a new National Disability Agreement (NDA) between the Australian, State and Territory Governments is needed to facilitate cooperation, enhance accountability and clarify roles and responsibilities.

We have made a number of recommendations for a new NDA that has at its core the wellbeing and needs of all people with disability and their families and carers.

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  • Key points
  • Media release
  • Factsheet
  • Contents
  • The current National Disability Agreement (NDA) no longer serves its purpose, has a weak influence on policy, and its performance targets show no progress in improving the wellbeing of people with disability. A new agreement is needed to promote cooperation, enhance accountability and clarify roles and responsibilities of governments.
  • The disability policy landscape has changed markedly since the NDA was signed in 2008.
    • The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) commenced in 2013, focusing on supports for approximately 475 000 people with significant and permanent disability. And the National Disability Strategy (NDS), which covers all people with disability (approximately 4.3 million), was endorsed by all Australian Governments in 2011.
  • Improving the wellbeing of people with disability and carers across the nation 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.
  • There is an important role for a new NDA that has at its core, the wellbeing and needs of all people with disability and their families and carers. The purpose of a new NDA would be to provide an overarching agreement for disability policy, to clarify roles and responsibilities, to promote cooperation and to enhance accountability. The new NDA should:
    • set out the aspirational objective for disability policy in Australia — people with disability and their carers have an enhanced quality of life and participate as valued members of the community — and acknowledge and reflect the rights committed to by Australia under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
    • outline the roles and responsibilities of governments in progressing that objective; the outcomes being sought for people with disability; and a nationally consistent performance reporting framework for tracking progress against those outcomes.
  • The NDS should continue to play the essential role of articulating policy actions, with these actions explicitly linked to the new NDA’s outcomes. The agreements governing the NDIS would remain separate to the NDA, but should be referenced throughout so that the NDA is reflective of the whole disability system.
  • Roles and responsibilities in the NDA need to be updated to reflect contemporary policy settings, to reduce uncertainty and to address gaps in several areas — including in relation to advocacy, carers, and the interface between the NDIS and mainstream service systems.
  • To facilitate greater clarity in responsibilities, governments should articulate and publish which programs they are rolling into the NDIS and how they will support people with disability who are not covered by the NDIS. They should also (through the COAG Disability Reform Council (DRC)) undertake a comprehensive gap analysis, with the new NDA outlining responsibilities for addressing any gaps. A gap analysis should be undertaken every five years.
  • NDA performance reporting needs strengthening to improve transparency and accountability.
    • There should be a single person‑centred national performance reporting arrangement across the NDA and NDS, with performance indicators and targets agreed to by the DRC.
    • A ‘National Disability Report’ should be tabled in Parliament biennially, outlining progress against the NDA’s outcomes and performance metrics, and including the perspectives of people with disability and findings from policy evaluations undertaken as part of the NDA.
  • A new NDA should be agreed by the start of 2020. It should be a living document, with updates made to schedules as required, and should be independently reviewed every five years.

Media requests

Leonora Nicol, Media Director – 0417 665 443 / 02 6240 3239 / media@pc.gov.au

New agreement on disability needed to improve the wellbeing of people with disability

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 today 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 www.pc.gov.au. This is the first of the Commission’s reviews of nationally significant sector-wide agreements between the Australian and State and Territory Governments.

Media requests

Leonora Nicol, Media Director – 0417 665 443 / 02 6240 3239 / media@pc.gov.au

Text version of factsheet

What is the National Disability Agreement?

An agreement between all governments about enhancing the quality of life for people with disability, their families and carers.

  1. Promotes cooperation
  2. Clarifies roles and responsibilities
  3. Enhances acountability.

Covers 4.3 million people with disability in Australia.

What did we find?
A new agreement is needed

The current National Disability Agreement is outdated and does not reflect the current policy landscape.

There is lack of clarity about who is responsible for:

  • Advocacy services
  • Community access and inclusion programs
  • Carer services
  • Services to people with psychosocial disability.
What are we recommending?

The new National Disability Agreement should...

... be an overarching agreement covering all people with disability, their familities and carers.

[Image] Three Triangles. The largest says: 'All Australians (23 million)'. Nested in the largest triangle is a medium sized triangle saying: 'People with disability (4.3 million)'. And finally, nested atop of the two largest triangles is a small triange saying: 'NDIS participants (475 000)'.

... be about meeting their rights, needs and obligations.

[Flower-like image] with icon of person in centre. Seven petals radiate listing:

  • Family and carer wellbeing
  • Rights protection, justice and legislation
  • Personal and community support
  • Learning and skills
  • Economic security
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Inclusive and accessible communities.

... unify and guide all aspects of disability policy in Australia and reflect the role of the National Disability Strategy and the NDIS.

[Image] Three cell flowchart. An upper word bubble saying 'National Disability Agreement' linking to two lower word bubbles saying 'NDIS' and 'National Disability Strategy'.

The National Disability Strategy (beyond 2020) should detail the actions governments will take to improve outcomes for people with disability, their families and carers.

What should governments commit to in a new agreement?
  • Providing accessible and inclusive mainstream and specialised services
  • Clarifying responsibilities and resolving service gaps
  • Strengthening performance reporting
  • Evaluating what policies work
  • Publishing a National Disability Report every two years.

Find out more at pc.gov.au/nda

  • Preliminaries: Cover, Copyright and publication detail, Foreword, Terms of reference, Contents and Abbrviations
  • Chapter 1 About this review
    • 1.1 Background to the study
    • 1.2 About the National Disability Agreement
    • 1.3 The broader disability policy landscape
    • 1.4 The Commission's task and approach to the review
    • 1.5 Consultation during the course of the review
  • Chapter 2 The purpose of the NDA
    • 2.1 Does the NDA fulfil a relevant purpose?
    • 2.2 What should be the overarching agreement?
    • 2.3 A revised disability policy architecture
    • 2.4 Updating the outcomes of the NDA
  • Chapter 3 Service gaps and responsibilities of governments
    • 3.1 Reflecting disability policy in the NDA
    • 3.2 Unclear responsibilities contribute to service gaps
    • 3.3 How the new NDA could help address gaps
  • Chapter 4 Policy commitments
    • 4.1 Where are policy commitments specified?
    • 4.2 Linking outcomes, policies and evaluation
  • Chapter 5 Progress against the NDA’s performance framework
    • 5.1 Why measure performance?
    • 5.2 The NDA's performance reporting framework
    • 5.3 Progress towards the NDA outcomes
    • 5.4 Evaluating the NDA performance reporting architecture
    • 5.5 Developing performance indicators and targets
    • 5.6 A comprehensive data strategy
    • 5.7 More coherent national reporting for disability?
    • 5.8 Raising the profile of performance reporting
  • Chapter 6 A modern disability agreement
    • 6.1 A person-centred document
    • 6.2 A contemporary document
    • 6.3 Broader issues relating to the IGA FFR framework
  • Appendix A Public Consultation
  • Appendix B NDA performance indicators
    • B.1 Outcome A: economic participation and social inclusion
    • B.2 Outcome B: choice, wellbeing and independent living
    • B.3 Outcome C: families and carers are well supported
  • References

Printed copies

Printed copies of this report can be purchased from Canprint Communications.

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