National Disability Insurance Scheme

One of the most powerful ways to initiate change is to listen to someone else’s story. Knowing that you are being listened to can change your life. Governments that do not listen to the people are unlikely to be re-elected.They show they are keen to listen when they set up surveys, polls, committees and inquiries to gather opinion and evidence to feed into policy reform.

We are at an extraordinary time of change in the disability sector in Australia. 

– Professor Bruce Bonyhady, disability advocate, 2018

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was introduced under the Gillard Labor government in 2013. It came two years after the Productivity Commission has published a report recommending the establishment of a national scheme to provide long-term care and support for people with disability. The model for the NDIS was informed by consultation with the disability community and disability advocacy organisations.

The scheme provides tailored individual support to Australians with disability to improve their wellbeing. It puts choice and control in the hands of people with disability by allowing them to choose their own goals and support networks.

An independent review to ensure the future sustainability of the scheme was announced in October 2022. 

'Smoothing the pathway': Elly Desmarchelier

Elly Desmarchelier is a proud disabled, queer woman and national disability rights campaigner. Most recently, she was the National Spokesperson for the ‘Defend Our NDIS’ campaign. ‘Defend Our NDIS’ brought together thousands of people with disability, their families, disability support workers and community supporters to ensure the NDIS was high on the election agenda.

Her advocacy sees Elly meet with the country’s leaders, engage with national media, host town hall meetings and, most importantly, meet with thousands of people with disability who have shared their stories with her.

Elly is determined to create meaningful change for the one in five Australians with disability. She believes that is only possible if people with disability have a seat at the table where decisions likely to have a profound impact on their lives are being made.

My job, as a disability rights campaigner, is to make sure that people with disability understand that they have the power to create social change. Everyone has the power to smooth the pathway for those who come after them. 

– Elly Desmarchelier, 2022

This story is featured in National Archives's exhibition Disrupt, persist, invent: Australians in an ever-changing world