People with a disability in Gippsland have to wait up to three-and-a-half years to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme under a region-based rollout plan announced last week.
Latrobe City and Baw Baw Shire residents will not have access to the NDIS until October 2017, while people in neighbouring Wellington Shire will wait until January 2019.
The Gippsland Carers Association has slammed the rollout delay in Gippsland as “an outrage”.
The association has called for a priority-based rollout, giving those with critical high support needs first access to the scheme, regardless of where they live.
Gippsland Carers Association president Jean Tops said many people with disabilities and their carers could not wait another two or three years to access the NDIS.
“We are very disappointed to say the least that people in Gippsland are again the bridesmaids when it comes to the rollout of services,” Ms Tops said.
“For those people with high support needs and their carers, who might be in their 70s, 80s or 90s, to have to hang on for another two or three years to get the support they need is an outrage.
“There are families in dire need in Gippsland.”
Details of the NDIS rollout were announced following the signing of a bilateral agreement between the state and federal governments last week.
The scheme will be introduced throughout Victoria over the next four years.
People on the Victorian Disability Support Register, Early Childhood Intervention Services waitlist and Mental Health Community Support Needs Register will be the first to access the scheme when it is rolled out in their areas.
In regions where the NDIS will be introduced in the third year of the scheme, such as Wellington and East Gippsland,
children on the ECIS waitlist and the DSR who are assessed as needing urgent support will be brought forward by a year.
However, this still means the earliest any Gippslander will access the scheme is 2017.
Ms Tops said people in rural areas of Victoria in particular were in a “critical state in many circumstances”.
“Critical high support services should have been rolled out across the whole state, rather than by postcode,” she said.
“If there has to be a postcode rollout, they (state and federal governments) should have also made a contingency for all those people who are in dire circumstances and in critical need, to be put onto an emergency allocation list (regardless of their municipality).”
Disability service providers welcomed the release of NDIS details.
National Disability Services Victoria state manager David Moody said the sheer size of the ambitious overhaul, which would affect about 105,000 Victorians and 6650 Gippslanders, along with the implications for the industry, meant it needed to be rolled out region by region.
He said it was understandable all families wanted to access the NDIS soon.
“But given the realities of rolling out a scheme of this size that was always going to be challenging,” Mr Moody said.
He reiterated people would still continue to access current services in the meantime.
Member for Eastern Victoria Region Harriet Shing said Gippslanders now had “certainty” about the details of the NDIS rollout.
“(It) means a fairer system with no more waiting lists – it is about putting people with a disability and their families first,” Ms Shing said in a statement.
“This agreement is life-changing for the many local residents and families in the region who will benefit from the scheme.”