The “objects” identified in the Act are important as a statement of what Parliament wants to achieve with the legislation. They do not create rights or responsibilities but should be used to aid interpretation of other provisions of the Act or of the Rules.
The objects of this Act [s3(1)] are to:
- In conjunction with other laws, give effect to Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities
This means that the activities of the Agency can be considered from the perspective of whether they progress or comply with the rights of people with disabilities detailed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). If not, referring to CRPD rights and principles can support advocacy for a different approach.
Many of the Objects and Principles of the NDIS Act reflect parts of the CRPD.
- provide for the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Australia
- support the independence and social and economic participation of people with disability
This Object will be of assistance when seeking NDIS supports that aid involvement in employment, in education, in community and recreational activities and in activities with family or friends.
- provide reasonable and necessary supports, including early intervention supports, for participants in the National Disability Insurance Scheme launch
This Object is a core aim of the NDIS and is repeated in the general principles guiding action under the Act. Other materials can assist in understanding what is considered a “reasonable and necessary support” under the Scheme.
- enable people with disability to exercise choice and control in the pursuit of their goals and the planning and delivery of their supports
This objective is core to delivery of the NDIS. Actions of the Agency, plan nominees, plan management providers and service providers in regard to support planning and execution should be carried out under the direction of the person with disability. When this is not what happens, it should only be for a reason permitted by either the Act or the Rules.
This objective may be a useful advocacy tool where the person with disability:
- is not consulted about how supports will be provided
- is assumed to be incapable of making a decision about supports
- is not supported to voice his or her preference
- is ignored when expressing an opinion, or providing input
- facilitate the development of a nationally consistent approach to the access to, and the planning and funding of, supports for people with disability
This objective may be useful for advocacy purposes where the level or kinds of support provided for a person in one part of the country is less generous or more restrictive than that provided in another. Examples of the supports made available by the Scheme to other people will be most relevant where they are provided to people with similar levels of disability and life circumstances or where they can be used to show the breadth of supports that may be funded by the Scheme.
- promote the provision of high quality and innovative supports to people with disability
This objective may be useful when seeking Scheme funding for supports that are more expensive and/or outside the normal range of supports provided. It means that the quality of a service or support matters and that the development of new kinds of supports are to be encouraged.
- raise community awareness of the issues that affect the social and economic participation of people with disability, and facilitate greater community inclusion of people with disability
- In conjunction with other laws, give effect to certain obligations that Australia has as a party to:
- the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- the Convention on the Rights of the Child
- the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
- the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
Several human rights conventions have been listed under this object, which could be used to strengthen arguments based on the rights contained within them. However, these may not be as relevant or persuasive as CRPD rights, as the Act is intended to “give effect to certain obligations” that Australia has party to these instruments, so does not intend to fully implement them. However, the standards, rights and responsibilities found in international human rights law can be very successfully used by advocates to secure positive outcomes for a person.
In giving effect to the objects of the Act, regard is to be had to: [s3(3)]
- the progressive implementation of the Scheme; and
This gives the Agency an “out” in terms of any failure to live up to the Act objectives in the roll out period of the Scheme.
- the need to ensure the financial sustainability of the Scheme
This provision may be used by the Agency to justify a denial of supports or inadequate funding. It can however alternatively be used by advocates to argue that the provision of reasonable and necessary supports that enable community participation and prevent the deterioration of a person’s situation also aid the financial sustainability of the Scheme through preventing additional costs arising in the long term. Providing evidence along with explanation and prediction of the potential benefits for the person and eventual savings for the Scheme may help to secure adequate funding.
- the broad context of disability reform provided in the National Disability Strategy, and the Carer Recognition Act 2010
- the provision of services by other agencies, Departments or organisations and the need for interaction between the provision of mainstream services and the provision of supports under the National Disability Insurance Scheme
These provisions reflect that the NDIS is only one part of the overall agenda for reform of government supports and services provided to people with disabilities, which includes the National Disability Strategy. The NDIS will not meet all the gaps in service provision to people with disabilities. Boundaries between the role of the NDIS and other government agencies have been established.
For general guidance on the delineation between the scheme and other areas of government Principles to Determine Responsibilities of the NDIS and Other Service Systems are available.
Where mainstream services in the government or the private sector are inadequately addressing or accommodating the needs of people with disabilities, Anti-discrimination law may be used to argue that reasonable adjustments should be made to a service or facility. (See this website’s section on making discrimination complaints).