Last year the Rudd Government announced the start of what could become a once-in-a-generation chance to change the way we provide disability support in Australia.

The Productivity Commission was asked to investigate the feasibility of a national long-term care and support scheme.

That will involve looking at how we can better fund disability care and support in the future and whether other models, such as a national disability insurance scheme, might work in Australia.

The commission has now officially commenced the inquiry and called for submissions. It will also release an issues paper this month, followed by the first round of public meetings next month, in June and July.

Already the Productivity Commission has received twice as many submissions about disability reform as it has ever received on any other topic in its history.

That’s including gambling reviews, paid parental care reviews and the importation of books. So there is clearly a hunger in the general community to find a way to reform the broken disability support system.

Working carers are urged to take this rare and important opportunity to make submissions to the inquiry.

This is a crucial time to let the government know about the impacts of caring for a person with an impairment while also trying to keep down a job – whether that job is paid or voluntary.

There will be no major disability reform that also benefits working carers unless they add their voices to the inquiry.

Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, in his latest newsletter, said he hoped that members of the disability community would let the commission know their thoughts and ideas about how a national disability insurance scheme should work.

“After all, you’re the ones who have the most first-hand experience of the problems,” he said.

“A national disability insurance scheme has wide support amongst disability groups, but it’s a complex area that will require rigorous analysis before it can be implemented.

“If you have an interest in the future of disability support in Australia, then I would strongly encourage you to let the commission know your views.”

You can go to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry page and register your interest here:

A transcript of Bill Shorten’s interview on this topic with ABC radio is included as a separate document in this Work ‘n’ Care newsletter, and is well worth reading.