TEN-thousand Hunter people with disabilities will be among the first in the country to benefit from a new national disability insurance scheme after the state and federal governments struck a deal yesterday for a trial to take place in the region.
It puts an end to political wrangling over the funding arrangements that risked NSW’s proposal to host a three-year trial in its preferred site of the Hunter, while launch sites in other states were set to benefit ahead of a national rollout of the Medicare-style scheme.
NSW Disability Services Minister Andrew Constance said yesterday he was delighted that people with disabilities in the region would benefit through the largest launch site of the scheme in the country.
From July 1, people with significant and profound disabilities, their families and carers in the Hunter would have their needs assessed and would start to receive individual care and support packages, giving them more say and control over their services.
‘‘The bottom line is you test a heart of a nation when it comes to their treatment of people with disabilities,’’ Mr Constance said. ‘‘And I’m very, very pleased that in a bipartisan way the Commonwealth and NSW governments have reached this agreement, an agreement that is going to benefit some 10,000 people throughout the Hunter.’’
But he warned there was significant work ahead to ensure the trial started on time after the Gillard government brought forward by a year the Productivity Commission’s recommended start date.
The deal was reached after the federal government agreed to redirect $61.8million from administrative funding towards local care co-ordinator positions and accepted NSW’s offer of $35million – not $70million – of new support.
It is on top of the $550million the state would already spend on disability services in the region.
The Commonwealth would contribute more than $300million for the trial and would bear the risk of any cost blow-out.
Mr Constance said it was also agreed that no precedent for funding of the full scheme, which is yet to be determined, would be set from the trial funding model.