Reports by the Daily Telegraph highlight that many Australians are still waiting access to the long awaited NDIS. Ms Folbig, a Sydney mum has accrued a $300,000 disability debt caring for her two disabled children as she awaits the roll out.
Up to 9,000 people have so far benefited from trials of the $22 billion NDIS and most participants applaud the extra help they have received from the scheme. However, there are still 450,000 families and individuals waiting to get a disability plan and who do not know when the scheme will reach them.
The scheme is expected to be fully rolled out in the ACT by 2016, by 2018 in NSW and all over the country by 2018-19 but which regions will get it when has not been revealed.
The minister in charge of the NDIS, Senator Mitch Fifield, told The Sunday Telegraph the Federal Government is “not looking for a reason or a rationale to delay” the scheme. “We want it to be rolled out as quickly and effectively it can be,” he said. However, he conceded it could be another six months before the plan for the full rollout is public in mid- 2015 with bilateral negotiations with each state now underway.
It is likely the scheme will be rolled out in a different way in each state with some considering a geographical rollout, others by age cohort and some looking using a waiting list approach that will provide services to those who have none first.
From July, the government began collecting $3.5 billion a year through a half a per cent hike in the Medicare Levy to fund the NDIS but has so far spent just $400 million. Disability groups fear there could be pressure to delay the scheme to prop up the budget. Senator Fifield says the scheme was funded for the next four years in the May budget.
“People need to see commitment to the timetable being made real and that it has all the elements to allow for it to be in place,” spokesman for the Every Australian Counts Campaign, John Della Bosca, said.
To move to full rollout, the scheme will need to expand from the current 9000 participants to 460,000. The current 100,000-strong workforce needed to support the scheme will have to double.
There are already disagreements over whether the $38 an hour funding for care under the scheme is adequate and some providers are closing their doors because they cannot break even. The funding will be cut next year to $35.77 an hour.
A State of the Disability Sector report, to be released this week, has found four out of five disability service providers believe the policy environment they are working in is uncertain and seven out of ten think the government is not responding to their needs.
National Disability Services says providers need a plan for the full roll out from the government so they can plan their services to meet the demand. Some families in trial sites for the NDIS are still facing 12 month delays to acquire equipment like standing frames and wheelchairs.