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NDIS could be rolled out early in regions

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January 6, 2012

President of the Gippsland Carers Association Jean Tops believes a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) could be trialled in regional areas such as Gippsland to offer more support for people with a disability.

Mrs Tops made the comments before a public hearing in Traralgon into the work of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Petitions. She was at the hearing to provide evidence after co-ordinating a petition on the implementation of an NDIS which is supported by both sides of politics.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester, who is a member of the committee, asked Mrs Tops at the hearing whether she thought it was practical to roll out a regional trial of the NDIS in eastern Victoria sooner than the timeframes that have been proposed about in the Productivity Commission report into disability care and support.

“The timelines for the rollout of the NDIS have the full implementation plan stretching out to 2018-19. This means that many thousands of ageing carers will in fact be dead and people with severe and profound disabilities will be in crisis care and/or homeless at that point,” Mrs Tops said.

“There is no reason in the world why, if the government were fair dinkum about this NDIS, they could not in the budget or the mini-budget have said, we're injecting $2 billion to $3 billion across Australia immediately to address the crisis in care that currently exists.

“They could do it today or tomorrow. The systems are there for the State and Territory Governments to roll out those individual support packages under the current system with the only difference being that, if you have got a choice other than what we have told you could have before, let's talk about it.

Mr Chester, who has been advocating for faster action on the NDIS, said he supported Mrs Tops’ comments.

“It’s clear that the current system of disability care and support is unsustainable, underfunded and unfair,” Mr Chester said.

“We need to move as fast as we possibly can to achieve a fair and workable system and given the willingness of the State Government, there are opportunities to trial the NDIS in regional areas such as Gippsland.

“We need a system that puts people with disability at the very centre of the equation and provides them and their carers with flexible packages to access the services which most meet their needs in their own particular communities.”