It’s full steam ahead for the National Disability Insurance Scheme – now known as DisabilityCare Australia – with the launch sites gearing up for the July 1 rollout.
DisabilityCare Australia will provide services to around 410,000 Australians with a disability when fully operational in 2018-19.
DisabilityCare Australia will be launched on 1 July 2013 in four locations: the Barwon Region in Victoria; the Hunter Region in NSW; and the entire states of South Australia and Tasmania. In July 2014, the ACT will also roll out a launch.
Vision Australia has two local offices that fall within the launch sites including the office in Geelong VIC and Newcastle NSW. The teams are currently working to identify eligible clients who may be interested in applying to be included in the launch.
DisabilityCare Australia is anticipated to operate fully on a national basis from 2018.
What has Vision Australia done?
Vision Australia has advocated strongly that no person who is blind or has low vision should be disadvantaged by the introduction of DisabilityCare Australia, regardless of their age or their level of vision.
We have been successful in ensuring that eligibility will be based on functional assessment rather than a medical benchmark. The rules now state that the disability requirements also mean that an individual is only able to undertake key daily activities with the use of assistive technologies, equipment or with training. This speaks directly to the ways in which both people who are blind and people who have low vision live their lives on a day-to-day basis.
The NDIS Bill also includes a specific provision for early intervention and now clearly incorporates people with degenerative conditions. This is important because many people who are diagnosed with a vision related degenerative condition which is yet to significantly manifest in their lives, may choose to act early to learn new skills, explore new options of doing things, and get the emotional support they need to move forward.
Vision Australia has also been pushing strongly for sound consumer support provisions to be built into the scheme, and we are encouraged by the developments to date. These include the ability for service providers to also provide brokerage services or what DisabilityCare calls “plan management,” and scope for specialist assessments to be undertaken outside the NDIS Launch Transition Agency.
This means that people who are blind or have low vision will be able to get specialist advice to help develop a support plan, and the ability to have someone help with managing the delivery of their plan, should they choose to do so.
What about the over 65’s?
Disappointingly, the age cut-off of 65 is still a feature of DisabilityCare. There are however two exceptions to this rule: firstly, people already within the scheme and who turn 65, will have the choice to remain within DisabilityCare into their later years; and secondly, there will also be a limited number of people over the age of 65 who have a history of accessing disability services and supports within certain parameters, to also be eligible to receive DisabilityCare support.
Whilst these provisions are limited and not an alternative to our first principle of equitable support for everyone, Vision Australia has supported their inclusion to have some measure of flexibility.
Vision Australia is continuing to press the Australian government for clear provisions for people over the age of 65 in the aged care sector, and we are continuing to work with the Government to make sure the theory of DisabilityCare actually works in practice.
Find out more about Vision Australia's NDIS campaign: What about Lucy?
Read some of Vision Australia's recent Government submissions on the NDIS