BALLARAT disability advocates have welcomed a breakthrough in the political stoush surrounding the National Disability Insurance Scheme, calling it a historic step forward for all Australians.
Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu yesterday proposed $42 million for an NDIS trial in the Barwon region — a move welcomed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard who said politics had been “swept aside” in favour of improved provisions for Australians with a disability.
Ballarat’s disability sector had called unsuccessful negotiations over the trial sites in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland an abandonment of the human rites, as money and politics blocked better services for those in need.
Ballarat caRmpaigner Tess Pearce, who has cerebral palsy, congratulated Mr Baillieu on reaching the deal.
“This launch agreement will make a huge difference to the lives of people with disabilities living in the Geelong and Barwon areas, and if the launch is successful, the rest of Victoria and Australia,” she said.
In the compromise move, Mr Baillieu said Victoria would increase annual average spending for the region’s 4135 disabled from $19,300 per person to meet the Commonwealth benchmark of $20,779.
Over the three-year trial, the cost would reach $17 million and would be matched by a one-off facilitation payment of $25 million for service delivery.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is currently spending well over one billion dollars per year on care and support for people with a disability, their carers and their families; the suggestion by the Commonwealth that we lack commitment in this area is false and offensive.”
Ms Gillard said she was now optimistic an NDIS trial would take place in the Barwon region and well as in New South Wales.
PINARC Disability Support chief executive Marianne Hubbard said the proposed agreement was “fabulous news”.
“It is what we have been hoping for and is a good sign of the committeement to seeing how this new NDIS might work, and that is what this is about in testing how an insurance scheme might work best,” she said.
Ms Hubbard said Ballarat services and agencies, individuals and families were relieved and thankful for the political compromise.
Her comments were echoed by others in the sector, including Karden Disability Support Foundation acting chief executive Rachael Jones, who said disappointment had been replaced by optimism.
The proposal will give nearly 5000 Victorians living with a disability, their family and their carers better support and access to services, with the Victorian government seeking a model closer to that which was proposed by the Productivity Commission.