A year after the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) first launched in Australia, three more states and territories across the country have jumped on board with the program, continuing its successful nationwide rollout.
On July 1, the NDIS confirmed the establishment of three new trial states in the ACT, Northern Territory and Western Australia. These sites follow in the tracks of those commenced in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania last year, meaning people with disability are now covered by the scheme in the vast majority of the country.
In addition, the new sites announced at the start of this month bring some exciting new milestones for the NDIS, with some nationwide firsts implemented at several of the sites – highlighting the success of the scheme and its growing importance to the overall healthcare system in Australia.
ACT provides first whole-of-jurisdiction cover
People with a disability in the ACT will be boosted by the news that the territory’s NDIS will be the first in the country to provide whole-of-jurisdiction cover, as opposed to the limited programs seen in the other regions.
To date, the NDIS has been restricted in scope in the states and territories in which it operates. This could be in terms of geographical cover – for example, the NDIS only applies in the Hunter in NSW and Barwon in Victoria. In other areas such as South Australia and Tasmania, there are age limits imposed. Only children under six years of age are covered by the scheme in the former, while in the latter, it’s restricted to those between 15 and 24 years of age.
The NDIS will service the entirety of the ACT region however, with support open to everyone under the age of 65. According to Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, more than 5,000 Canberrans will gradually transition into the scheme over the course of the next two years.
“Today is an historic day for the ACT and marks a significant change in the way that people with disabilities, their families, and carers access services that they need in the way that they feel is best for them,” she explained in a July 1 statement.
“The next few years will see an unprecedented level of investment in disability services in the ACT, and I look forward to working with the sector and the National Disability Insurance Agency to ensure the NDIS delivers for the people of Canberra.”
She added that the state and national government has teamed up to invest $21.8 million into preparing for the changes outlined by the NDIS, ensuring a smooth rollout and implementation for all.
Remote disability care the focus in NT
Meanwhile, the Northern Territory made NDIS history by becoming the first region in Australia to implement a remote trial site.
Minister for Disability Services Robyn Lambley stated that the NT site, which is based in Barkly, “has the potential to be the most significant reform of disability services the NT has ever seen”. In addition, it will form an important precedent for remote disability care in Australia in the future.
“The Barkly trial will also be unlike any other currently underway in Australia – it is the only remote trial in the country. The trial will reveal some of the greatest difficulties the NDIS will have in delivering for remote communities,” she explained.
“It is very important that the NDIS trial shares this experience in Barkly so that it can deliver for all remote Australians with a profound disability.”
In light of these crucial expansions, the NDIS is set to extend its reach across the country over the next two years and further developments will be closely watched by the Australian healthcare community.
Informa runs an annual National Disability Summit. The 2015 summit is a while away, but do check out some of these upcoming healthcare events, especially the inaugural Integrating Mental Health into the National Disability Insurance Scheme conference.
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