FOUR hundred new people will be eligible for disability services in the first year of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Newcastle when it launches in the Hunter.
The head of the NSW launch, Rob Watkins, told a meeting in Newcastle on Wednesday night the first 3000 people in the Newcastle local government area to benefit would include 2600 current clients of the NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care and equivalent federal department.
That left 400 places for new clients.
It is the first time further details about the roll-out of the much-touted scheme have been aired.
Based on national disability rates of 5.8 per cent, an estimated 8584 people in the Hunter may have profound or severe disabilities, which means some people will miss out on places during the trial version of the scheme. If people do not transfer into the scheme their present arrangements will remain the same, the government has said.
Mr Watkins said the scheme was to be rolled out progressively.
Another 2000 people from Lake Macquarie would come on board next year and in total 10,000 people the following year when Maitland was brought into the fold.
Mr Watkins said the launch would take three years and then the scheme would be rapidly expanded across NSW during the ensuing two years.
Every eligible person with a disability in NSW would have access to the scheme by 2018. During the Newcastle launch the agency would take on about 220 clients each month.
Mr Watkins said a lot of the capacity for the first few years would be taken up by existing clients, but there was capacity for new clients.
"We understand concerns about the number of places, but what we are in is a transition," he said.
He said it was a trial and they could not help everyone at once.
"We acknowledge there will be things we get wrong. But that's about having a partnership with people with a disability in Newcastle," he said.
DisabilityCare employees moved into their new office in Hilltop Plaza in Charlestown this week. Staff include 30 "planners" as well as local area co-ordinators who have been in training for the past six weeks.
Mr Watkins said the scheme represented a fundamental shift in disability funding.
"Rather than the government funding service providers and people being shoe-horned into that service, the funding will be individualised," he said.
Launch site will help 10,000 people in the Hunter by 2016
Open to people with a disability living in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Maitland
Will take on 3000 people in Newcastle in 2013-14, 2000 in Lake Macquarie in 2013-14 and 2014-15, and 10,000 people across all three areas including Maitland by 2015-16
By July 2018, all eligible residents in NSW will be covered
It will be open to people aged under 65
People on a federal government disability pension do not automatically qualify for the scheme; pensions are unaffected
To meet the disability requirements under the NDIS people must have a permanent impairment and be unable do things without help from equipment or other people
Source: DisabilityCare Australia
RATES OF DISABILITY
Profound (always needs help): 2.9%
Severe (sometimes needs help): 2.9%
Moderate (needs help with a core activity): 3%
Mild (needs aids and help with transport): 5.6
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics