The NDIS is a new national scheme designed to help improve disability services and provide greater control and decision making to people with disability in Australia. It has been long awaited relief for those with disabilities or caring for ones with a disability. Some locations around Australia have been fortunate enough to be trialling the new National Disability Insurance Scheme although Queensland will have to wait a little longer for its trial, with the full scheme beginning July 2019. It is hoped that by trialling in selected locations first, it will provide valuable experience and evidence for further implementation nationally without too many problems. The scheme will cost $22.2 billion a year when it is fully operational in 2019-20.
The current disability support system is financially unsustainable. Funding growth is not
keeping pace with the growing demand for disability services and equipment. This puts increasing strain on families and carers, making informal care arrangements unsustainable and causing a vicious cycle. Available money is diverted away from early intervention services that support people to build their independence towards expensive crisis-management services limited to the most urgent need. Pressure on other service systems increases as people with disability find themselves in hospital for longer because they can’t get disability support to live at home or in poverty because they can’t get to work each day.
The NDIS will provide funding for ‘reasonable and necessary’ support, services and equipment. Some of the guidelines in the Act will help decide what can be funded but generally the supports and services should assist a person to:
- achieve your goals
- become more independent
- develop skills for basic day to day living
- take part in the community
- work and earn some money
The practical application of this means:
- Mobility – moving safely in the home or community (equipment and advice for the home, a cane, a seeing eye dog, training on how to use these things as well as any residual vision);
- Communication – special and general devices and training that helps with reading and writing (assistive technology – Scanners, Refreshable Braille displays, Magnifiers, portable and desktop CCTVs; and software – screen readers, JAWS) and general communication technology that a person with vision loss can use like smart phones;
- Self-care and self-management – strategies, training, tips and equipment to organise your home and identify items;
- Social interaction – this could include services or activities to help you link and connect with the community, and support to participate in recreation, cultural and sporting activities;
- Learning – includes supports such as early intervention, aids and equipment, training, and/or access to a variety of services such as literacy services (like Braille, access to our Feelix Library for Children, adaptive technology training), vocational education and training, therapy, accessing information, and transcription. You may also need help getting there and getting around such as orientation and mobility training. It will depend on a person’s life stage – a child, a young person, and adult. Of course, individual needs will vary according to life stage; and
- Capacity for social and economic participation – supports to assist you to have a job and participate in the community.
At this stage, it appears that only persons under 65 years of age will be eligible however, once you are accepted, if you turn 65 years, the support will continue. You eligibility will depend upon your location, age level of disability and early intervention supports that may be available. The NDIS website has an accessible checker to see if you may be eligible, go to www.ndis.gov.au/my-access-checker. If your application is not successful, they will have an appeal process in place and a Tribunal will make a decision.
The main aim of the scheme is to fund long-term, high quality care and support (excluding income replacement) for people with significant disabilities. In Australian, there would be about 460,000 people able to receive funding support through the scheme at any given time.
The NDIS is likely to cover other supports offered to many people with disability, including aids and equipment, home and community care, personal care, domestic assistance, respite, home and vehicle modifications and community access.
This will greatly take some pressure off anybody with disabilities or their carers knowing that they will now receive funding to deliver the quality of care and life that they or their loved ones deserve.