Developing the new National Disability Strategy


The Australian Government is leading the development of a new National Disability Strategy (new Strategy) to replace the current National Disability Strategy when it finishes at the end of 2020. The Commonwealth, state, territory and local governments across Australia are working together in consultation with people with disability to develop the new Strategy to take effect later in 2021.

On Friday 4 December 2020, Disability Ministers from across Australia issued a Statement of Continued Commitment to the National Disability Strategy. The statement is a commitment to continue efforts under the National Disability Strategy to uphold the rights of people with disability between the expiry of the current Strategy at the end of 2020, and the finalisation of the new National Disability Strategy in 2021.

The later finalisation (in 2021) of the new Strategy is due to the impact of COVID-19 which meant public engagement had to be held later to ensure it could be conducted safely. The decision to defer public engagement, and the later finalisation of the new Strategy was based on advice from key disability sector stakeholders.

Engaging people with disability on the development of the new Strategy

The Commonwealth, state, territory and local governments across Australia remain committed to collaborating and engaging with people with disability, their families, carers and representative organisations, to improve outcomes for Australians with disability.

The voices of people with disability are central to the development of the new Strategy. 

Consultations have taken place in stages over three years to enable people with disability to have a say during all phases of developing the Strategy.

In 2018, targeted consultations were held with around 150 people from 80 organisations on the Review of implementation of the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020.

In 2019, around 3,000 people with disability, their families and carers, advocacy organisations, peak bodies and service providers took part in the first stage of community engagement and consultation around Australia held April to July 2019.

Consultation included face-to-face community workshops, a public survey and an online forum, as well as targeted consultations for and led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The consultations were aimed at hearing from people with disability about developing a new Strategy for beyond 2020.

599 participants in 17 community workshops. 474 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consulted. 2649 public survey responses. 15 in-depth discussions. 14 participants in online forum.

A report, ‘Right to opportunity: Consultation report to help shape the next national disability strategy’, was released following the stage 1 consultations and is available in a variety of accessible formats.

Stage 2 consultations

The feedback received during the 2018 and 2019 consultations, as well as other reviews and inquiries, was used to inform the development of a National Disability Strategy Position Paper (the position paper). The position paper outlined governments’ proposals for the new Strategy and formed the basis of Stage 2 consultations held in the second half of 2020. 

The proposals included:

  • the vision, outcome areas and guiding principles for the new Strategy
  • a stronger focus on improving community attitudes
  • clearly describing roles and responsibilities of governments and the community
  • regular public reporting that shows whether the key outcomes for people with disability are improving
  • developing targeted action plans to drive better implementation
  • how people with disability can be engaged in the delivery and monitoring of the next Strategy.

During Stage 2 consultations:

  • 236 people and organisations provided submissions containing their feedback on the proposed features of the new Strategy.
  • more than 800 people registered for a webinar on the new Strategy, hosted by the Australian Human Rights Commission and Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health. 
  • 132 people participated in 18 focus groups with cohorts of people with disability who did not participate in high numbers during Stage 1 consultations.
  • 102 people participated in five cross-sector collaborative workshops.  
  • a series of workshops were held directly with Disability Representative Organisations.

A separate consultation was held on developing an approach to measuring outcomes for people with disability, with submissions being sought on the the Improving outcomes of people with disability under the National Disability Strategy and the National Disability Insurance Scheme Introductory Paper that was released on 29 October 2020.

The Introductory Paper outlined the proposed approach and structure to measure the impact of the NDS and NDIS through agreed sets of outcomes, indicators and measures.

Feedback was sought through a separate submission process, with 55 submissions received. A series of workshops were also held directly with Disability Representative Organisations and researchers.

A Stage 2 consultation report is currently being prepared

Next steps

The feedback from stage 2 consultations along with the other reviews and inquiries is being used to finalise the new Strategy for release in the second half of 2021.

Engagement with people with disability

The National Disability Strategy Position Paper proposed the development of an Engagement Plan to show the commitment of governments toward involving people with disability in the implementation of the new Strategy. Feedback on the position paper strongly support the development of an engagement plan. 

As a first step to demonstrating all governments commitment to better collaborating and engaging with people with disability, Disability Ministers from across Australia have agreed to work together to establish a new National Disability Strategy Advisory Council. Read the communiqué.

The Advisory Council will be developed in close consultation with people with disability, and commence alongside the new National Disability Strategy in 2021.

Good Practice Guidelines

To further support the inclusion of people with disability the Australian Government will fund the development of Good Practice Guidelines for engaging people with disability. The Guidelines will be a valuable resource to remove barriers to participation for people with disability.

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