In this lecture for the University of the Third Age, Grattan experts discuss the Disability Royal Commission and chart a better path for people with disability.


Kay Axsentieff: So, I’d now like to introduce today’s speakers, Dr. Alastair McEwin AM and Hannah Orban, both from the Grattan Institute. Hannah very generously suggested and then organised one of her colleagues to co present with her today. We’re extremely honoured and privileged to be able to have, as a special guest, one of the six Disability Royal Commissioners, Dr Alastair McEwin, join our News and Views program today.

We’re most fortunate to have this unique opportunity to hear, firsthand and live, from someone intimately involved at the highest level in the entire process. So, I’ll commence by introducing Alastair and then Hannah. Alastair has had a long involvement in disability and human rights policy work, encompassing roles at both domestic and international levels, and across the private, government, and non-government sectors.

Born profoundly deaf, Alastair’s tertiary studies include humanities, Law and Business Administration, an MBA. He is also a recent graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Alastair’s roles have included Associate to the Honourable Justice, John von Doussa of the Federal Court, Management Consultant with Accenture, Manager of the Australian Centre for Disability Law, CEO of People with Disability Australia, and many more and Executive Director of Community Legal Centres in New South Wales. His two statutory appointments have been as Disability Discrimination Commissioner, based at the Australian Human Rights Commission, and most recently as a Commissioner with the Disability Royal Commission. In the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Alastair was made a member of the Order of Australia for significant services to disabled people.

In May 2022, he was awarded a degree of Doctor of the University of Adelaide, honoris causa.

Now onto Hannah Orban, who is an associate in Grattan’s disability program. Hannah advocates for the equality of people with disability through evidence based public policy. That is led by the disability community. She brings her experience as a sibling to people with disabilities, to her work, as well as her professional experience in the government and non-government not profit sectors.

In Washington DC, Hannah worked alongside leaders in disability policy in the U S at the Elaine Sweeney graduate intern in disability policy with the National Academy of Social Insurance and the Century Foundation’s Disability Economic Justice Team. She also worked as a research assistant in economics at the University of Michigan and in public and disability policy in the New South Wales Department of Education.

Hannah has a Master of Public Policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Where she studied as a Fulbright Scholar. She holds a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in Philosophy from the University of Sydney. So, our thanks must go also to Hannah for your proactivity in bringing Alastair to our screens.

Thank you so much. So, please join me now in giving a very warm welcome to both Alastair McEwan and Hannah Orban, both of whom will be talking us through the Disability Royal Commission and the Way Ahead. Over to you.

Alastair McEwin: Thanks so much, Kay, for that very warm welcome. And on behalf of Hannah and myself, we are delighted to be speaking to you today and to be speaking to so many of you who have shown such a big interest in the topic of the Disability Royal Commission. I want to firstly acknowledge the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains of where I am currently situated.

I also acknowledge, the various people, Aboriginal people of all the lands of where all of you are also situated.

We’ll look by way of very brief introduction before we get into the substantive content of our presentation. The Disability Royal Commission and the full title was the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, placated to Disability Royal Commission or even DIC.

However, we try very hard not to use acronyms that many of you may not be familiar with. The establishment of the Disability Royal Commission was a result of decade literally of advocacy and stand and position effort from disabled people themselves and the disability rights movement. So today we’re going to have a look briefly at some of the finding and the recommendation, in particular, the major recommendations that the Royal Commission made.

Kaye has very generously introduced both myself and Hannah, so I won’t go into anything by way of background, except to say again, I’m delighted to be here with, with Hannah. I’m a senior fellow, and Hannah is a researcher with the Disability Programme at the Grattan Institute. And it’s literally, The baby of all those programs.

It was established only late last year in October, November, and it sits alongside equally with the other programs that the Grattan Institute runs, such as health, economic policy, and so forth. Without further ado, I’m now going to move into what we’ve just called for today, DRC 101.

So, with this, we’re going to give you a very quick snapshot as to why we had the Disability Royal Commission. How did it come into being and why was it so important? The history of the treatment of disabled people, and please note that in terms of terminologies, I might flip between disabled people or people with disability.

Both can be used interchangeably, and I actually have a preference for disabled people. However, I do prefer people with disability. So, the history of disabled people like such as myself, and we’re going back literally thousands of years, has been characterized by exclusion, segregation, othering, being kept away from society, hidden away from society.

We’ve all heard of that phrase, out of sight, out of mind. There’s been attempts, in terms of eugenics, there have been mass killings of disabled people, for example, in Germany during the Nazi years. So, it’s been a very long, terrible history that disabled people have experienced in terms of the way they’ve been treated, the way they’ve been excluded from society, and the way that other people see disabled people.

In Australia, what we have seen particularly, since white settlement is a lot of the practices that the in English or the United Kingdom had for hundreds of years, including the establishment of institution where the stable people were literally left, in those institutions away from mainstream society, away from others because it was felt that that was better for them.

And of course, that resulted in a long history, again, of exclusion and segregation. So, Australia’s history, the 230-250 years of white settlement, has many parallels to the way British people treated disabled people, and also, we’ve seen across the world. And other place, including in North America or in the Americas and in Europe and elsewhere.

A very common theme has been the othering or different treatment. Around about the 1980s, or even in the 1970s globally, but particularly in the 1980s in Australia, there is a growing movement among disabled people themselves of finding their voice or being allowed to have a voice in mainstream society.

In other words, many of them had come from institutions themselves and had talked about the terrible lives they’d had in those institutions. For example, the UN recognized 1981 as the year of disabled person.

That was a turning point for the disability rights movement. In Australia, so we then saw the establishment of advocacy bodies and disability rights organizations and in particular a group where disabled people were leading those organizations. So, the voice of disabled people has been an element in the history that we’ve seen come through to the current, present time.

We also saw in the 1980s and then 1990s and 2000, what we call deinstitutionalization, where large institutions and the one that, that I referred to earlier were closed down, and then disabled people were, through various mechanisms, supported or not supported as we saw to integrate into mainstream society. I could go into a lot more detail about the history but it’s fair to say that the Royal Commission heard a lot about that history and they drew on that as a way to demonstrate to the wider society how important it is to acknowledge that there is a very terrible history of the treatment of disabled people. Then more recently we started to see things like legislative reform, policy reform, critical milestones in that history, the, for example, the establishment or the enactment of the Disability Discrimination Act, which came into force in 1993.

And that was very specifically, A law that prohibited the discrimination of people on the basis of their disability. So that was an important turning point in the recognition of the fight for equal rights. There was then a global movement and a global effort, and eventually the enactment, or rather the proclamation and signing off by UN United Nation member State of the convention on the rights of persons with disability. And that went beyond what many laws currently do. And, for example, the Disability Discrimination Act, as I have said, is specifically a law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of an impairment. That is a disability. Whereas the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities took existing human rights norms, so the norms that we all, or many of us, take for granted, the right to education, the right to housing, the right to water, all those things that we take almost for granted in our daily lives, or many of us, and it took those rights and framed them from a disability lens.

And what that really meant was it would, it looked at the disabled person themselves and said, okay, what is preventing them from being in society? And so, it took what we call a social model approach, which essentially described the barriers that disabled people experience are the ones that society creates, not the disabled people themselves.

And so that was an incredibly important milestone, where it recognized that, for example, disabled people are not here to be fixed, they’re not here to be cured, rather, accept them as part of what I call the diversity of humankind. Disability is just one aspect of the diversity of humankind. So, bringing this section to a, to a close, what that then meant was there was a continual movement and push for greater recognition of rights in Australia.

In 2015, we saw the Senate inquiry into violence, abuse, and neglect of people with disabilities and the headliner recommendation for that one was a Royal Commission. A Royal Commission would recognize the highest form of inquiry in Australia to really shine a spotlight on the terrible things that they’d heard already in the Senate inquiry and also in other inquiries and in other parts of life.

So, in April 2019, the Disability Royal Commission was established, and its mandate was to enquire into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disabilities in all settings, as well as look at what needs to be done to make Australia a more inclusive society. So that concludes, a very brief, Disability Royal Commission 101.

What I will do now is ask Hannah to move on to the next section, and I believe she’ll move the, yeah, and there she is. Okay, thanks Hannah.

Hannah Orban: Thanks Al. So, to really understand what the Disability Royal Commission means for Australians, you need to know what the government is already doing to help people with disability.

Al’s given us an overview of the history of the disability rights movement. So, let’s take a quick look at where we are today. And then I’ll take you through the headline recommendations of the commission and zoom in on a couple of big ones as well. We love data at Grattan Institute. So, let’s jump into the numbers.

Disability is not rare. It’s actually quite common. There are at least 4. 4 million people who have a disability in Australia. That’s about one in six Australians. Disability cuts across all ages, ethnicities, and income brackets in our society. Going by the numbers, you probably know several people with disability, or you might have one yourself.

I say that because even though disability does cut across all groups in our society, there are some trends in age and in income level and the prevalence of disability. Let’s start with age. Disability is a part of life for all Australians, and especially as we get older. At ages 5 to 9, maybe the age of some of your grandchildren, you have about a 9 percent chance of having a disability.

At 30 years, and at ages 35 to 39, you still have about a 9 percent chance of having a disability. At another 30 years, and things really start to change. At ages 65 to 69, your chance of having a disability has shot up to 36%, and by age 85, you’re much more likely to have a disability than not, with 78 percent of people aged over 85 having a disability.

So, the older you are, the more likely you are to have a disability. Let’s look at one economic measure, income and disability. The Australian Bureau of Statistics, the ABS, reports that in 2018, median gross personal income for people with disability was $505 per week, which was less than half median gross personal income for people without disability at $1,016 per week.

Disability can also have a big impact on the income of families. If you or someone else in your household has a disability, you’re much more likely to be in the lowest 40 percent of income than households without disability too. The main reason disability can reduce income is that many people with disability can’t work or can’t work as much as they otherwise would.

Getting a job can be really tough if you have a disability. Employment rates for people with disability in Australia have been flat for decades, hovering around 48%. Compared to 80. 3 percent of people without disability. Qualifications help, however, getting a degree doesn’t completely eliminate the unemployment rate gaps for people with and without disability.

As of 2018, the unemployment rate for people with disability was 5. 5%. Compared to about 3. 9 percent for non-disabled people. Australians with disability often work part time too, and this can contribute to lower incomes. Just under 20 percent of people with disability in the labour force work part time, and nearly 5 percent are underemployed.

Australians with disability tend to have a much harder time getting and keeping employment. They’re more likely to face discrimination, and they tend to earn less on average. So, it’s really important that public policy helps to ease these inequalities. Let’s take a look at what the government does to help people with disability.

To tackle no or low incomes and ensure a basic standard of living, the government provides the disability support pension to disabled Australians who meet the eligibility criteria. About 770, 000 people receive the disability support pension, or about 17 percent of disabled Australians. As a single person receiving the pension, the disability support pension, that is, you would get a bit less than 550 a week.

So, a modest income. Once you’re over 67, you would move on to the age pension, which is about the same amount of money, depending on the income and assets test. Of course, in addition to income support people with disability, like all Australians get public healthcare and those who are eligible can get help paying the rent through the Commonwealth Rent Assistance Program.

Then there’s social housing too. About 39 percent of households living in social housing have at least one person with disability, so a large minority of social housing households. But the really big program you’ve probably all read about in the paper is the National Disability Insurance Scheme, or the NDIS.

The NDIS is a remarkable government program and one of a kind in the world. Rather than just giving people money or services alone, the NDIS helps people with disability to determine their needs and their goals, such as education, living independently, and it gives people the necessary help and funding to achieve those goals.

It’s a much better system than what we had before. All Australians under the age of 65 are covered by the scheme, so if you need it, it’ll be there for you. However, only some of us will need to draw support from it. I stress that the NDIS is not income support. It’s a common misconception. The NDIS is an insurance scheme that pays for the goods and services you need to live each day, be part of the community and achieve your goals.

People who need income support, get it from the disability support pension or from other income support programs, not from the NDIS, the NDIS covers nearly 650, 000 people, or about 14 percent of Australians with disability. People with lifelong and severe disabilities can join the scheme. And there’s a substantial early intervention pathway as well for children.

In fact, more than half of people in the NDIS are under the age of 18. Autism, intellectual disability, and psychosocial disability, which is another way of saying mental illnesses, are among the most common types of disability for people in this scheme. The NDIS is there to help people at the pointy end of disability.

Typically, people in the NDIS have very severe disabilities that affect their day to day lives and who tend to be marginalized by society and our institutions. However, the NDIS is a very costly program. It’s projected to cost $41.4 billion in the 2023-24 financial year. We in the disability program at the Grattan Institute are working to find ways to make the NDIS more financially sustainable.

Aside from the NDIS and income support, many people with disability get supports from the same places that the rest of us do, such as the education system and Medicare. So, now that you have a bird’s eye view of disability policy in Australia, let’s zoom into what the Disability Royal Commission found.

So, after four years, the Royal Commission handed down no less than 222 recommendations to government, and through the 12 volumes that comprise the final report, a clear picture emerges of the inequality that people with disability in Australia experience. It’s clear that even with our social safety net, including the support pension and Medicare, and even with the NDIS, there are many areas where existing government responses aren’t enough, and we need to develop policy solutions.

There are two major findings and two significant recommendations from the DRC that I want to focus on with you this afternoon. So, let’s start with the findings on violence and abuse, and then on segregation.

The Commission found that people with disability are at a much higher risk of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation. For example, they found that 23 percent of people with disability, that’s nearly a quarter of people with disability, have experienced physical or sexual abuse by the age of 15, and that’s more than double the rate of people without disability, at about 11%.

Women and girls with intellectual or psychological disabilities are especially vulnerable to violence, with 72 percent having experienced violence since the age of 15. And First Nations or LGBTQIA plus people with disability are at a greater risk as well. Secondly, the Commission found that people with disability are still enduring segregation in Australian society and institutions.

For example, from school, children with disabilities sometimes learn in separate settings where they have very little contact with children who don’t have disabilities. So those opportunities for, children in school to play together and form friendships, are often missing. More than 17, 000 people with disability in Australia are working in sheltered workshops, what we now call supported employment, where they can earn as little as $2.90 an hour, and they don’t get to interact with their non disabled peers at work or have opportunities to upskill and start working in the open labour market. Services for the general population, such as in healthcare and transport, are often inaccessible for people with disability, meaning that it can be difficult or even impossible for some people with disability to even enter the building or the bus, let alone interact with the services. For example, research by Professor Julian Trollor showed that between 2005 and 2011, 38 percent of deaths of people with intellectual disability were from potentially avoidable causes, which is more than double the general population.

The choices we make when we design and implement policy contribute to rates of violence, abuse, segregation, and inaccessibility. These are policy problems. And that means we can strive for better results for people with disability by designing better policy. However, it’s a lot easier to identify the problems than it is to come up with the solutions.

The recommendations of the Royal Commission point toward policy solutions. Some of the recommendations that would make really big changes to the lives of Australians with disability, including those nearest and dearest to you, include creating a disability rights act. Eliminating subminimum wages so that all workers with disability would be paid at least the minimum wage, which is $23.23, phasing out separate school settings for students with disability and making it illegal to forcibly sterilize women with disability without their knowledge or consent. I want to zoom in with you on two of the biggest recommendations that would change the very homes and jobs of some disabled Australians.

Firstly, housing and homes. About 17, 000 Australians with disability live in group homes. A group home is when four to five people with disability live together and share support workers who are in their house 24/7. The residents usually have very severe disability. They typically share a bathroom, and the cost of the support worker is often spread across the residence.

So, it’s cheaper to support the people living in the home than if they were living alone or in pairs. Even though group homes can be cheaper to run than other kinds of accommodation, they have their downsides. People with disability don’t usually get to choose who they live with, who their support workers are, what they eat, or where they go during the day.

Maybe, what I’m describing seems familiar to some of you who are living in aged care settings too. The most egregious finding, however, was the rate of violence, abuse, injury, and neglect in group settings. Over a period of four and a half years, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, the regulator for the NDIS, received 1, 742 reported incidents of serious injury, a similar number of reported incidents of abuse, 1, 293 reported incidents of neglect, 960, reported incidents of unlawful physical contact, 324 deaths, and 234 incidents of sexual misconduct or unlawful sexual contact.

This was from a sample of seven major providers, so not the whole market. The perpetrators included some support workers and some co residents with disability. The Royal Commission found that group homes placed too many limits on the lives of people with disability, robbing them of choice. And that people with disability and group homes aren’t meaningfully integrated into the community and that there are high rates of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in light of these findings, the commission recommended that group homes should be phased out within 15 to 30 years.

However, the commissioners didn’t all agree. Five of the six commissioners recommended group homes be phased out in 15 to 30 years, and the chair dissented, arguing that people with disabilities should have the choice to live in group homes if they want to. The disagreement gives you a sense of how controversial some of these recommendations are.

On to employment. Getting and keeping a job can be really difficult for Australians with disability, even when they have really excellent qualifications. The Disability Role Commission revealed the entrenched discrimination and ableism that people with disability face in employment. The ABS estimates that 45 percent of employed people with disability reported discrimination or unfair treatment due to their disability by their employer, while 42 percent reported it from their work colleagues.

Not only is there discrimination in the workplace, disabled workers face stubborn discrimination in the job market too. Recent research shows that when people with disability apply for jobs that they’re qualified for, and for positions where their disability doesn’t impact their ability to do the work, they still face persistent discrimination.

A recent study by Canadian economists showed that job candidates with physical disabilities received 25 percent fewer callbacks than identical candidates, without disabilities. And that happens even when the person with disability is qualified, and their disability presents no barriers to them doing the job.

The Disability Royal Commission made several recommendations to help disabled Australians get better results in the job market, including beefing up anti-discrimination laws and establishing a disability employment rights council. Their main focus was on getting better outcomes in the public service. Because the government can set bench benchmarks for itself a little more easily than it can for private businesses.

They proposed a target rate of 9 percent of public service hires having a disability by 2030 and favouring businesses that hire people with disability for government procurement contracts. Behind these proposals is the idea that the more people with disability get a chance to participate in the open labour market, the more nondisabled employers and colleagues will see the talent and capabilities of disabled workers.

Alastair McEwin: Thank you so much, Hannah. I’m now going to talk briefly about where the differences or views lay, particularly around inclusion and segregation. So as Hannah has said, there were a different view. I want to also make it clear that I will name particular commissioners so that you are all clear on where I, for example, stood on the view.

By way of summary, the Chair, Sackville, and Commissioner Ryan, Commissioner John Ryan, they were of the view that there are going to be circumstances where it is either desirable or unavoidable or both that some disabled people will be separated because of their disability. Commissioner Mason, the First Nations Commissioner, joined the Chair and John Ryan on the view that with respect to education, special schools should remain because of that view, that there will be situations or there are times when it is either desirable or unavoidable that disabled kids be placed away from their non disabled peers.

So that was one view. The other view that was held by Commissioner Barbara Bennett, Rhonda Galbally and myself was that we had a vision for where Australia was a society where all people, including disabled people, were treated equally and they were not othered or treated differently. And that, of course, refers to the history that I outlined earlier in this, in this talk.

We heard a lot in the Royal Commission about the othering, the differentiation, the exclusion. It was very clear, particularly to Barbara, Rhonda, and myself, that disabled people were always wanting to be part of mainstream society. They’re trying their best. They wanted to be part of society, so to us, that was a very strong theme that came through all the things that we listened to, the things that we read, and in our public hearings, and in particular, the hundreds of private sessions that we heard.

We heard, for example, that parents, I heard from many parents, who tried their best to, go to the mainstream school, or the local mainstream school, or the local primary school down the road and say we want our disabled child to be enrolled and they were met with resistance, they were met with gatekeeping, they were told flat out that their child did not fit in that school and that a special school would be a more preferable option.

Barbara, Rhonda, and I also examined what we heard from people about, from a human rights perspective, disability is, as I said earlier, should be considered as just one aspect of what it is like to be a human. You know, we, have different, some of us have different religious affiliations, some of us come from different backgrounds, some of us come from overseas, some of us are First Nations, and so the list goes on.

So, disability should be seen as a part of that wider diversity of life. Barbara, Rhonda, and myself also felt that for as long as there are options of special schools, shelter workshops, group homes, and day programs, that that would make it easier for policy makers and government to just keep status quo, to keep at the default option, the segregated setting, where we heard about shocking violence and abuse and neglect.

I heard from so many parents who felt so guilty about putting their child into a group home. They didn’t want to. They tried to work with the service provider to make it much more accessible, much more person centred, exploring other options for flexibility. And the list goes on. In essence, Barbara, Rhonda, and I formed the view that to make Australia more inclusive, we need to phase out segregated setting.

Now, we also recognize that that’s not going to happen overnight. We recognize that it was important that there be a transition, a staged transition. We also recognize that governments, both Commonwealth, State, and Territory governments, also need time to transform their policies, transform their funding models, as well as work closely with the disability community and their representative, representative organization to develop stage transitions away from segregated settings.

There was a lot more I could obviously say about the different views. Fundamentally, what was really important was for myself and Rhonda as the two Commissioners with the direct lived experience of disability were to listen really carefully to what disabled people themselves told us in the Royal Commission, their family, colleagues, organisations and the wider community.

And ultimately, the view that we formed was based on a desire to see mainstream setting accessible and inclusive. And as I said, as long as we have segregated settings in existence, it will be still a lot easier to maintain the status quo and not to do the transformational change that we need to see happen in Australia.

In summary, what does that mean going forward? How do we create a fairer Australia for people with disability that is also an inclusive society? We provided a lot of recommendations around addressing violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

And one of the points of differences was that for Barbara, Rhonda and myself, we heard that when you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind. And when you’re out of sight, the shocking abuse and violence that goes on behind closed doors was really quite confronting, even to myself as someone who’s worked in this field for a long time.

So, we made a lot of recommendations around that. We also need to see leadership from government. And I acknowledge, and I know many people acknowledge, that where there are different views, that makes it more challenging and more difficult for government to move forward. Having said that, the final report outlined comprehensively the different views, as well as some really concrete ways to cement the transition away from segregated settings, as well as how to make mainstream settings more accessible.

And I should emphasize at this point, all six commissioners agreed, that mainstream settings are failing to include disabled people. So, there was agreement on that, in terms of making mainstream settings more accessible. However, the three of us, Barbara, Rhonda, and myself, again, I emphasize for the last time that for as long as you maintain segregated settings, there will be no real incentive to make the mainstream much more inclusive.

On that point, I will then ask Hannah to keep going on through the point. Thank you, Hannah.

Hannah Orban: Thanks, Al. Thirdly, improving the NDIS, will yield better outcomes for people with disability. Here’s the twist though. To improve the NDIS, we actually need better services for people with disability outside this scheme.

Right now, lots of people with disability are trying to join the NDIS because it’s become one of the only places to get disability services. The NDIS is a program for people with permanent and severe disability. It was never intended to help all people with disability in Australia. So, we’ve got to take the pressure off this overloaded program.

And we do that by giving people access to services outside the NDIS and through Medicare, through the education system, and through nonprofit and community organizations. Fourthly, creating better disability policy means making it more efficient. Millions of us will benefit from Australia being a more equitable society for people with disability.

The challenge is getting disability services such as the NDIS, disability employment services, and the education system to achieve more with the resources they’ve got. Eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse is low hanging fruit for efficiency. Then there are the harder problems, such as making sure that the right amount of support goes to the people who need it most.

Al and I are part of the disability program at Grattan Institute, and we’re working on researching and designing policy solutions that help government, and will improve the lives of all Australians, especially those with disability. The Royal Commission has really shown just how much work there is still to do in creating an equitable society for people with disability.

Many of the Royal Commission’s recommendations point government to the destination, but they don’t always show us how to get there. At Grattan Institute, we research nonpartisan, rigorous policy solutions, and in the disability program, we’re working to design optimal policies that will get us to a fairer Australia for people with and without disability and to give government the road map, not just the destination. So, this year, our team is researching the problem of housing and at home supports for people with disability in the NDIS. We’re thinking about how to make housing better, safer, and more financially sustainable, so we can reduce the alarming rates of violence and abuse, make sure people with disabilities get to make decisions about who they live with and who cares for them. And that means breaking away from group homes as the main solution to housing and living supports, reforming those models, and creating incentives for people to use funding flexibly and to use paid and unpaid supports.

Later this year, we’ll also research how to get the NDIS on track for its 8 percent growth target. It’s a world leading program, but the NDIS won’t last if we can’t make it financially sustainable. As a reminder, there are 4. 4 million Australians with disability, and many are seniors too. So, getting disability policy right will change the day to day lives of one in six Australians, and it’ll have a big impact on the millions of families and friends of people with disability as well. So, if you want to support, nonpartisan, rigorous public policy research, please visit us at, our website for Grattan Institute and thank you so much for joining us today.

Alastair McEwin

Senior Fellow
Alastair McEwin AM has had a long involvement in disability and human rights policy work, encompassing roles at both domestic and international levels and across the private, government and non‑government sectors. Born profoundly deaf, Alastair’s tertiary studies include humanities, law, and business administration (MBA).

Hannah Orban

Hannah Orban is an Associate in Grattan’s Disability Program. Hannah advocates for the equality of people with disability through evidence-based public policy that is led by the disability community. She brings her experience as a sibling to people with disabilities to her work, as well as her professional experience in the government and non-profit sectors.