I WOULD like to correct some of the misconceptions surrounding the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in NSW.
Recently I introduced a bill to the NSW Parliament which contains the necessary measures for people with disabilities to seamlessly transition into the NDIS.
We should remember that people with disabilities, families, carers and their supporters have fought long and hard to make the NDIS a reality, so that they could choose their supports and control their own funding.
The Public Service Association and other critics are obscuring the fact that central to the agreement struck between Premier O’Farrell and then-Prime Minister Gillard is the requirement for NSW to transition all of its disability services to the non-government sector by the NDIS implementation deadline in 2018.
This agreement, signed in December 2012, will see funding for people with a disability in NSW grow from the current NSW spend of $2.5billion this year to $6.4billion by 2018, and numbers of people receiving services grow from 95,000 to an estimated 140,000.
These critics also seek to mislead and frighten our hard-working disability care workers. Staff will not be forced to leave the disability sector, in fact more than 25,000 additional staff will be needed in the sector as the NDIS is rolled out.
Staff currently employed by the state will have the opportunity to transfer to non-government organisations with all entitlements intact that are applicable under the state award prior to their transfer.
Critics have wrongly claimed that people with disability will lose their long-time carers. The government’s bill contains specific provisions for staff to move to services along with their clients, to retain continuity of relationships where possible.
As the NDIS provides individual funding, people with disability and their families will be able to choose where they want to live.
Under this scheme, they will be able to move to non-government service providers that better meet their needs and have staff with whom they are familiar.
Critics of the NDIS have continued in their attempt to tie their issues to the imminent redevelopment of the Stockton Centre, and have used this as a vehicle to fuel fears about the NDIS.
The decision to redevelop Stockton and other large residential centres was made about 15years ago, long before the NDIS was proposed.
These types of accommodation have long been viewed as antiquated models of care and over the past 10years NSW has been replacing centres with smaller group homes.
During this time, more than 550people who previously lived in 18large residential centres have moved to smaller group homes.
Group homes, many already operated by non-government organisations, can provide the same 24-hour specialist care provided by large institutions such as Stockton. Being smaller, group homes are able to be situated in the community, which offers greater inclusion for people with disability and opportunities to participate in what their local community has to offer.
Many people who have made the transition from large residential centres to smaller group homes are now enjoying life experiences that were previously unimaginable.
John Ajaka is the state Minister for Ageing and Disability Services.