The State Government will extend the South Australian Transport Subsidy Scheme (SATSS) for National Disability Insurance Scheme participants. The decision is in response to concerns expressed by South Australians with disabilities and MP Kelly Vincent that NDIS packages are not providing sufficient support for their transport needs.
“I am contacted every day by South Australians with disabilities struggling to afford accessible transport options so they can go about their daily lives. Although the NDIS is meant to enable people to get out into the community the uncertainty around transport funding and NDIS plans has caused a great deal of anxiety for many people. It is a relief that the government has acted on my concerns, and that the SATSS will continue until at least June 30, 2019. This sensible policy decision is a real win for South Australians with disabilities, and their family carers, because they rely on this subsidy for safe, accessible transport.” Dignity Party MP Kelly Vincent commented.
Disabilities Minister Leesa Vlahos said that the bilateral agreement between the State and Commonwealth governments for the NDIS launch, includes access to funding for transport assistance, however the State Government is concerned that the current level of support is not sufficient. South Australians with disabilities rely heavily on accessible, affordable transport to access work, study, job-seeking and medical appointments. While work continues at a national level, it is important that people with disabilities are not put at a transport cost disadvantage.
“Many South Australians living with a disability have told me personally about their concerns regarding transport funding under the NDIS. This decision will provide some certainty for NDIS participants as South Australians transition to the full NDIS scheme. South Australia will be contributing $732 million annually into the scheme and I will continue to make representations to the Federal Minister for Social Services to ensure that South Australians in the NDIS get reasonable and necessary support for their transport requirements.” Minister Vlahos commented.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephen Mullighan explained that the South Australian Government was the first jurisdiction to sign up to the NDIS and is committed to supporting the Commonwealth in its further development. Under the bilateral agreement between the State and Commonwealth governments once members were transitioned to the NDIS, SATSS vouchers would cease with participants able to access funding through the NDIS for transport assistance. The Minister also pointed out that concerns have been raised that people are not getting sufficient provision for transport in their plans. In South Australia, people with permanent and severe disabilities that limit their ability to use public transport are eligible for subsidised taxi fares:
• 75 per cent subsidy for people who are confined to a wheelchair.
• 50 per cent subsidy for people who are not confined to a wheelchair.
SATSS provides members with 80 vouchers for subsidised taxi travel every six months. Each voucher has a maximum metered fare to which subsidy applies of $40. Approximately 5,500 existing SATSS members aged between 18 and 64 will be transitioning to the NDIS over the next few years.
“SATSS vouchers provide a critical subsidy for people who need to use taxis because they may have difficulty accessing other more affordable forms of transport. This two-year extension to the transport subsidy scheme is aimed at ensuring that no one is disadvantaged during the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This will mean South Australians going into the NDIS don’t lose their SATSS vouchers, and don’t have to worry about getting to appointments, to visit family and friends and getting around the community or to their jobs or study.” Minister Mullighan commented.