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Access to sex services will be removed from the NDIS

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NDIS Minister Bill Shorten said = sex work will be removed from the list of approved services if proposed legislation to “tidy up” the scheme passes Parliament.
People with disability will no longer be able to use National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding to access “sexual services”, under a series of reforms to the system.

People with disability will no longer be able to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to fund “sexual services”, under a series of reforms to the system.

This week, NDIS Minister Bill Shorten told Sky News that sex work will be removed from the list of approved services if proposed legislation to “tidy up” the scheme passes Parliament.

Shorten said he was “only aware of one case of [sex work] being asked for”.

The Government did not confirm if sex therapy services will be impacted by the planned changes.

The NDIS

The NDIS provides support and services for Australians with disability. Individuals are allocated a personal budget, calculated “based on what is ‘reasonable’ and ‘necessary’” for each person.

Funding includes access to community services, transport and vehicle modifications, and help with daily activities.

It was launched in 2013 and completely rolled out by 2020. There are now over 610,000 Australians who receive support from the NDIS.

Context

Specialised sex services have been available through the NDIS since 2020 after a 40-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis was denied funding for a trained sex worker.

She launched a legal challenge, arguing the NDIS Act doesn’t explicitly exclude sex services.

The Federal Court ruled in her favour, finding that “there is no implied exclusion of such activities [and] in our opinion the better view is that they are intended to be included.”

NDIS Minister

Shorten told Sky News on Monday that sex services don’t “pass the test” as a necessity under the scheme.

He said he believes certain services being claimed are unsustainable.

The change comes as part of a swathe of proposed reforms that Labor says will save $14.4 billion over four years.

“What we want to do is make sure [people have] the ability to get things that are reasonable and necessary. The rules have been a bit loose at the margins,“ Shorten said.

Reforms

A bill that Government says would overhaul which NDIS supports are available and improve early interventions, is before the Senate.

In June, Greens and Coalition voted to refer the bill and its amendments to a Senate Committee for a review.

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce said that despite voting to have the bill reviewed, the Coalition will likely support it.

“We’d be prepared to go further, really tighten it up because… it’s costing the taxpayer way too much,” he said.

In a post to X, Greens disability spokesperson Jordon Steele-John said the proposed reforms are “deeply unpopular and damaging” and fail to acknowledge the needs of people with disability.

“Minister Shorten is supposed to be supporting disabled people and their families, not cutting their services,” he said.

Advocates

Women With Disabilities Australia says it’s concerned about the potential exclusion of sexual supports and services.

Acting CEO Sophie Cusworth says NDIS should support the sexual expression and autonomy of people with disability.

“People with disabilities should be able to access funded supports that enable us to realise our rights to sexual health information, sexual pleasure, expression, association, freedom, autonomy and self-determination.”

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