Statement on the Federal Budget changes to the NDCO program and the future of ADCET
In the Federal Budget 2023 - 2024 the Government has announced that the National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) Program will cease on 31 July 2023 (and 31 October 2023 for any outstanding contracts).
Reform is coming - let's have our say!
This will have a profound effect on the ongoing support the NDCO Program provides for ADCET. We know many stakeholders in the sector are concerned about retaining the vital and valuable work of ADCET and we encourage everyone to participate in the upcoming consultation that the Department of Education is planning in the coming months.
Tertiary Education Reform to improve disability inclusion is happening now. While the recent announcements in the Federal Budget about the NDCO program and the impact on ADCET is unsettling, this is also a chance to consult with the Department of Education on what the next phase looks like.
As difficult as this time is, it is an opportunity for us all. Universities, peak bodies and stakeholders, including students, will be consulted about the Disability Support Program (DSP) and how we can utilise it to improve the access and participation of students within Higher Education. This is our chance to think about what will have the most significant impact.
ADCET currently receives base funding through the DSP of $150,00 per annum this enables us to employ a Project Coordinator and Communications specialist. The ADCET Manager, the National Assistive Technology Officer and an administrator have been funded from the NDCO budget.
This means that without the NDCO program funding ADCET ceases to exist. We will advocate for ADCET to receive a significant increase in our base funding through the DSP to continue and grow the work we have started and dream of doing.
ADCET is also concerned that in the budget announcement the VET sector, and the crucial role that ADCET and the NDCO program have played in providing information and support, has been overlooked. Additionally, the budget fails to offset the loss of the key role played by the NDCO program in strategically improving access and transition to tertiary education and graduate employment.
ADCET has started to gain momentum in the work we are doing, such as the professional development webinars, eLearning programs, podcasts, developing resources such as our Accessible ICT procurement guide, supporting students who are Blind or Deaf Online, supporting practitioners and educators by offering ADCET Assist, and online resources at the press of a button.
There has never been a more critical time for strategic and systemic work to be undertaken in the sector. The National Skills Commission predicts that more than nine out of 10 new jobs to be created in the next five years will require a post-secondary qualification. We must work in a coordinated way to ensure people with disability are not left behind.
Where to next?
We call on the sector to work together to maximise the value of this money through a coordinated approach that creates a more inclusive and accessible learning environment for students with disability throughout the entire student lifecycle across all tertiary institutions.
If you value the work that ADCET undertakes and has the potential to continue to do, we encourage you to engage in the consultation. This is our time to harness the excellent work undertaken by ADCET and the NDCO program over many years and to request that some of the redirected funding be provided to ADCET so that we can build on this expertise and knowledge.
We will let you know about the pending consultation and if you have any questions please email email@example.com