Disability funding welcomed


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GIPPSLANDERS living with a disability, and their carers, are set to “benefit greatly” from the State and Federal Government’s recent agreement on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, according to local MPs.

In welcoming the agreement this week, for a full roll-out of Disability Care Australia in Victoria, Deputy Premier and State Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan also announced a $224 million State Budget increase to disability funding.

He said the extra money would “provide more immediate support, with a significant boost in the number of Individual Support Packages and funding for people with complex needs in supported accommodation”.

Included in the budget package is $107 million for 720 new ISPs for people with high support needs, more than $62 million to help those living in government-run supported accommodation, more than $26 million for a wage rise in 2013-14 for about 13,000 disability workers and $17 million in extra funds to support the Victorian launch of the NDIS in the Barwon region on 1 July.

The latter amount took the State Government’s total three-year investment in the NDIS launch site to more than $300 million, Mr Ryan said.

In a statement, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said last week’s joint state-federal agreement would provide more than “100,000 Victorian residents with significant or profound disability choice and control over the care and support they receive”.

While applauding the bipartisan approach to the NDIS, including agreement on a levy to partially fund the scheme, Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester called for full disclosure from the Federal Government on how the remaining 60 per cent of required funding would be provided.

“As it stands, the current budget does not allow for it to be funded from consolidated revenue without further borrowings,” Mr Chester said.

“Legislation, relating to the scheme including details on how it will work and who will be eligible, must also be introduced and voted on the current parliament,” Mr Chester said.

“The Coalition is also proposing the appointment of a joint parliamentary committee with chairs from both sides of politics to oversee the implementation of the scheme.

“Making announcements and introducing legislation are minor matters compared with the on-the-ground work that has to be carried out to get the scheme up and running.”

The National Rural Health Alliance said while there was support for the new scheme, there was not yet a generalised understanding of how it will work.

“The information and communication challenges relating to DisabilityCare Australia are yet to be comprehensively met,” a spokesperson said.