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Small start not enough, says ACT Blind Society president


Lisa Cox

Canberra President of the Blind Society Peter Granleese.

Canberra President of the Blind Society Peter Granleese. Photo: Colleen Petch

A $1 billion rollout of a National Disability Insurance Scheme is "a start" but not enough, says Peter Granleese.

The president of the Canberra Blind Society, who has had vision disability since birth, said the commitment was a "a very small amount" and significantly less than the $12 billion per year the Productivity Commission says it could take to fund a fully fledged scheme.

The government has announced $1 billion over four years to roll out the NDIS, beginning in mid 2013 in four "launch" locations around Australia.

Up to 10,000 Australians with a disability will be eligible for assistance in the scheme's first stage, that will be expanded to 20,000 from mid-2014.

"At the moment, the combined amount the Commonwealth and state governments spend on disability services is about $6.5 billion - we would need about another $6.5 billion on top of that for a full scheme," Mr Granleese said.

"A billion for the first four years is nothing.

"We also don't know what the timetable for the rollout of a full scheme is."

Mr Granleese said it was also unclear whether people who developed their disabilities later in life stood to benefit from the scheme.

"Conceptually, I think the NDIS is a good scheme, particularly for people with severe disabilities who need full time care," he said.

"But I don't think a one size fits all approach will work – including for people are blind or have low vision, a large number of whom lose their vision over the age of 65."

Mr Granleese said, as a sufferer of a lifelong disability, he could personally benefit from the scheme, depending on where it was launched.

"It might mean I'm able to re-equip myself with technical aids like computers, which are very expensive for a vision impaired person," he said.

"I think they should be looking at the most needy people, which seem to be people with severe brain injuries or spinal injuries who need full time care."

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