Reposted from a story from Australia online Updated 9 hours 13 minutes ago
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at the launch of the national disability insurance scheme Photo: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd talks to people at the launch of DisabilityCare Australia. (AAP: Jon Reid)
The multi-billion dollar scheme, which is designed to offer people with permanent and significant disabilities independence and choice over their care, will be rolled out at launch sites in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
The first stage of the roll-out is expected to benefit around 26,000 people.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Rudd described the scheme as a testament to Australia’s sense of mateship and community.
“Australia at its best is a country of hard heads and open hearts,” he said.
“We understand the need to keep the economy strong, but we also understand that to be authentically Australian is to have an open heart to all Australians.
“That includes the half million or so Australians who we believe will ultimately be part of this scheme, people suffering permanent and significant disabilities.”
NDIS: Key points
Begins July 1, 2013
Will cover more than 400,000 people by 2019
NSW, SA, Tasmania and Victoria will host launch sites
The ACT, NT and Queensland will join in coming years, but WA has not signed up
To be eligible, you must have a significant and permanent disability
People over 65 are unable to access the scheme
It will cost the Federal Government $19.3 billion over seven years
The scheme is jointly-funded by the Commonwealth and state governments, as well as an increase in the Medicare levy.
Disability advocate Catherine Mahony, who is blind, said the scheme is a new beginning for people with disabilities.
“DisabilityCare is our attempt to ensure that all people with disability move from grateful passive recipients of care, care which we know has been inadequate, if not completely unavailable, to full and active citizens, enjoying the same entitlements as every other Australian,” she said.
Nearly half a million Australians will be covered by DisabilityCare when it is fully operational in 2019.
DisabilityCare chairman Bruce Bonyhady says the launch sites will help inform how the full scheme should be rolled out by 2019.
“It’s not just about increased funding, it’s about a much more effective way of supporting people with disabilities,” he said.
“While aspects of it have been tested, it’s never been brought together in this way. And making sure that this is implemented well is really, really important.”
Disability campaigners say the scheme will improve lives.
“[The NDIS] changes their lifestyle from being a dependant lifestyle into one where they have all the sorts of opportunities that other Australians take for granted,” said John Della Bosca, from the lobby group Every Australian Counts.
“It really is about basic human freedom.”
About 10 per cent of Australians suffering mental illness will be covered by DisabilityCare Australia.
Frank Quinlan from the Mental Health Council of Australia says the system will provide people with mental illness with support when they need it most.
“They can receive intensive support,” he said.
“At a time when they’re not in need of much support that can be backed off, but it’s sort of held ready to go again.
“So people will not have to continually reapply and exit the scheme. It can be can be ramped up and down according to particular needs.”