The ACT government has awarded $4.3 million to disabled Canberrans in the first phase of the national disability insurance scheme implementation.
More than 800 Canberrans have been promised an enhanced service offer, which is a cash grant to pay for equipment, home modifications, or activities to improve their quality of life. As many as 300 of those receiving money through round one of the grants will be using the cash to access a disability service for the first time.
Waterproof hearing aids, travel assistance, and support to start a jewellery-making business are among the items disabled Canberrans will purchase with the money.
The government announced the grants of up to $12,000 earlier this year as the territory prepares to move to a full disability insurance scheme from July next year. About $3.5 million will be awarded through round two, which has just opened.
Maureen Sheehan, head of the ACT task force, said 1300 Canberrans applied for the first round, ''exceeding our wildest dreams about how many people might apply''.
The government awarded 804 grants, more than a third of those to Canberrans who were not already using the territory's existing disability or mental health services.
About 2400 people currently use a service, and the government estimates there are a further 2400 in need of support.
''It did confirm our view that there are a lot more people in the community that need a service and that aren't getting one,'' Ms Sheehan said.
Tully Kohlhagen plans to use his $12,000 in grants to travel independently for the first time. The 21-year-old from Charnwood has a fascination with world cinema and can slip into foreign languages with ease.
But a chromosomal abnormality means he has intellectual and physical disabilities that require support.
Mr Kohlhagen will initially use his money to take weekend trips through companies that organise travel adventures for disabled adults. He said that included whale watching in Eden next weekend and cycle tours.
In January, he will take a 10-day trip to Indonesia with his father, in preparation for future overseas holidays on his own.
His mother, Leslea Geary, said the money ''opened a big door'' for her son, who was looking for new experiences and a break from his family, including two sisters who also have disabilities. ''Tully in the next year or so will be moving into his own place,'' Ms Geary said. ''So although it sounds extravagant, it's going to be really important in terms of developing those self- help skills.
''Instead of going to respite, he actually goes out, meets new people and has experiences out in the community.''
Ms Sheehan said most applicants had applied with specific items in mind, from iPads to help with communication, to dance classes.
Sixty-four grants were awarded to recent school leavers, including one man who will use the money to pay for support to work in a cafe.
Another recent school leaver is using the funds to launch her own jewellery business.
Ms Sheehan said territory service providers would have to adapt to the disability insurance scheme model.