‘Hands off the NDIS’

Any delays to the National Disability Insurance Scheme could “emotionally ruin” Gippsland-based carers and their families, a leading advocate has warned.

Gippsland Carers Association president Jean Tops said caring families doing it tough and alone without support were already contributing $42 billion in savings to the Federal purse, and were “utterly desperate” for assistance now.

The $22 billion scheme, designed to deliver comprehensive support systems for carers, is due to be rolled out across Australia in July 2015.

However, the Commission of Audit has recommended a delay to the rollout, which it said could risk going underfunded if unchanged.

“This (recommendation) is going to put the fear of God into families all over Gippsland who have waited decades for that scheme to happen,” Ms Tops said.

“These families have been pushed to breaking point – to delay the scheme now would be unacceptable – it would be too much.”

Member for Gippsland Darren Chester, a staunch NDIS advocate, said he would only support a delay to ensure the government “get it right”.

“I would rather slow down the process to fix problems rather than rush it and create furhter problems for the government and the community,” Mr Chester said. “The only assurances I can give at this stage is that I am 100 per cent personally committed to the NDIS and the government will commit to its promise of support for carers.”

However, Ms Tops said there was no justification for delaying the scheme, as it was already in its second year of trialling.

“My question for Mr Chester and the government is how much more do you expect caring families to give in excess of any other family before this happens… the model can be changed along the way if necessary.”

The recommendation came before as state premiers met on Friday to discuss the NDIS, where the timeframe was left unchanged.