ACT seeks to pilot disability scheme
The ACT government is lobbying for Canberra to become one of the ''launch sites,'' of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The territory will make a pitch to the Commonwealth to be among the first jurisdictions to join the scheme from July next year, when it is piloted in two sites with another two to join a year later
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is planned as universal, Medicare-style safety to pay for equipment, therapy and support for people under 65, who acquire a disability.
The scheme is designed to help more than 400,000 Australians with permanent and significant disabilities, and their carers, to participate in society.
Federal Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin has described the scheme as the biggest reform since Medicare but the final design and the funding model to meet the scheme's annual cost estimated at up to $8 billion, remains unclear.
ACT Community Services Minister Joy Burch said yesterday that funding had been allocated to two local disability organisations, with the ACT one of the first jurisdictions to assign any taxpayer's money to the scheme.
Ms Burch said she would establish a reference group to prepare Canberra for the scheme while talks were held with the Commonwealth about the prospect of ACT being one of the launch sites.
But other states, including NSW and Tasmania, are also making their cases to the federal government to be included in the first or second tranche of launch sites, although neither state has put money towards the scheme.
The minister said the government would give $25,000 each to two disability community organisations, Advocacy for Inclusion and ADACAS, to help them prepare for the NDIS.
''The NDIS is a huge development for the disability sector and while it will provide significant benefits, community groups will need assistance to prepare for the change,'' Ms Burch said.
''The ACT government wants to ensure that the sector is well prepared for the rollout of the NDIS, which is why we are making this early commitment in partnership with the sector.''
The reference group will include people with disabilities, families, carers, disability organisations and government. Advocacy for Inclusion will use its grant to research models of self advocacy for people with disability, and ADACAS will look at services to support independent decision-making by disabled people.
The research will involve a pilot project with a small sample of clients.
''The allocation of these grants is a response to feedback to the ACT government from the community sector on how we can support organisations to prepare for the NDIS,'' the minister said.
Ms Burch wrote to Ms Macklin this month expressing the ACT's interest.