Spinal Life Australia is calling on the Queensland Government to extend the Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS) for two years for NDIS participants, with this critical funding set to cease on 30 June 2019.
This state-based scheme subsidises half of the taxi fare, up to a maximum subsidy of $25, with approximately 10,600 NDIS participants to be impacted by this change.
Our members and clients have reported that the NDIS funding for transport they are receiving is inconsistent and insufficient to enable them to participate in their communities – especially if they cannot access this critical subsidy.
All states and territories, except Queensland, have extended their equivalent subsidy schemes beyond 30 June 2019, or will continue to operate these programs alongside the NDIS.
Joined by a group of disability organisations across Queensland, we have launched an online petition that will be presented directly in State Parliament on this important issue.
We have also met with Queensland State Minister for Transport and Main Roads, The Hon Mark Bailey, and Queensland State Minister for Communities and Minister for Disability Services and Seniors, The Hon Coralee O’Rourke, to ask for the two-year extension to be granted for the TSS so these issues can be resolved.
These Ministers referred us back to the Commonwealth Government for response, saying that since July 2017 the Queensland Government has been funding the TSS and also contributing to the NDIA for transport. The Ministers said they would not continue to fund both the TSS and provide transport funding to the NDIA.
We are asking the Commonwealth Government to review the Queensland Government’s funding agreement with the NDIA relating to transport and urgently work together to resolve this issue.
Otherwise, the Commonwealth Government should immediately review transport funding for NDIS participants who use the TSS to ensure they are not disadvantaged if the scheme ends.
We need more time for the Commonwealth and state-based transport subsidy systems to align, and for the NDIS to establish new and adequate transport supports, to ensure Queenslanders with a disability are not left behind.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Taxi Subsidy Scheme?
The Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS) subsidises taxi travel for people with disabilities, providing half of the total fare, up to a maximum of $25 per trip.
The subsidy is paid directly to taxi drivers, so the passenger receives the discount on the spot when they show their TSS membership card.
The Queensland Government also currently offers Wheelchair Accessible Taxi (WAT) drivers a Lift Payment of $20 when they transport a TSS member who uses a wheelchair.
This payment is aimed at further improving accessible transport for people with disabilities, as an added incentive for drivers to offer these services, due to the additional time it takes to secure and disembark passengers with a disability.
However, the Lift Payment only applies for WATs, not other personalised transport services such as Uber.
In July 2017 the Queensland Government announced it would extend the TSS for two years, responding to community concerns about funding levels under the NDIS.
Doesn’t the NDIS provide transport funding?
Based on our experiences supporting people in their transition to the NDIS so far, transport funding is inconsistent.
Our members have reported that the funding they have received in their plans is just not enough to cover their transport needs, especially without the subsidy to assist with half their fare.
With the scheme aimed at supporting people to achieve their goals and participating more in their community, accessible transport is more important than ever.
We are confident that the scheme will provide adequate support in future, however this will take time to get right.
We’re calling on the Queensland Government to continue to offer the TSS to NDIS participants for the next two years, to ensure there are no gaps in funding.
How will this impact the availability of accessible transport in Queensland?
We are concerned that removing the TSS for Queensland NDIS participants will mean people cannot afford to travel as much, reducing the demand for accessible services.
Furthermore, removing the Lift Payment means less incentives for WAT operators to offer this service.
Figures from taxi companies show that offering this additional payment has led to less complaints and improved pick-up rates.
What is happening in other states?
In New South Wales, the State Government is continuing to offer the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme (TTSS), subsidising up to $60 per trip, along with the Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Driver Incentive Scheme (WATDIS) which provides a $15 payment per trip.
In Victoria, the State Government is continuing to offer the Multi Purpose Taxi Program, subsidising up to $60 per trip, while the Government works with the NDIA to confirm how participants will receive transport support.
In South Australia, the State Government has extended its Transport Subsidy Scheme for a further six months from 30 June 2019, providing members with 80 personalised vouchers every six months which subsidise up to $40 per trip.Tasmania’s subsidy scheme is scheduled to end on 30 June 2019.
In Tasmania, the State Government has announced it will extend its subsidy program that was scheduled to cease on 30 June 2019, which offers $1000 in taxi travel for the first year and then $350 for each subsequent year until the end of December in 2023.
Western Australia and the ACT are maintaining their equivalent programs to run alongside the NDIS, while NDIS participants in the NT are also still receiving a taxi subsidy.
What else would you like to see happen to fix this issue?
We would also like the Queensland Government to consider making the subsidies and payments open to vehicles other than WATs, such as Uber, to provide incentives for these services to provide accessible transport.
In addition to introducing an interest-free, government loan scheme of up to $80,000 per Maxi Taxi from a fund of $4,000,000 each year to enable new vehicles to be purchased or existing vehicles to be refurbished.
How else can I show my support?
We’ve also prepared letter templates that you can sign and send to:
- your local Queensland Government representative, asking them to support the extension. Click here to download the letter. To find contact details for your nearest State MP, click here.
- your local Federal Government MP or Senator, asking them to address Queensland Government concerns about TSS funding. Click here to download the letter. To find contact details for your nearest Federal MP, click here, or here for Senators.
If you can, please share our campaign with your family, friends and networks in Queensland, so they can show their support.
The online petition will close at midnight on Sunday 28 April, to be presented in Parliament at the first available opportunity. The Minister will then have 30 days to respond to the concerns raised.
If you have any questions, please contact our Advocacy team.