THE National Disability Scheme was making a profound difference to the lives of thousands of Hunter residents living with disabilities, one of the state’s most prominent disability advocate believes.
‘‘It allows people to be treated as individuals, rather than clients,’’ Nicholas Gleeson said yesterday (Wednesday July 16).
After a year of operation, around About 2,000 people are receiving services under the Newcastle NDIS trial.
The scheme will now be expanded to include Lake Macquarie, effectively doubling the number of people who will benefit.
Despite the expansion, Mr Gleeson, who spoke on behalf of NDIS partner Ability Links, said he was concerned at suggestions the scheme may be slowed down.
‘‘From all reports I’ve heard it’s definitely helping people to have greater access to services and improve their lives.’’
‘‘We need to be speeding up the roll-out, not slowing it down.’’
Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka visited Lake Macquarie yesterday to meet with clients who have transitioned into the NDIS.
Mr Ajaka said the government was committed to a disability service system that increased choice and control for people with disability.
“This is why the NSW Government became the first state to sign a historic agreement with the Commonwealth to implement the NDIS,” he said.
“I am pleased we are moving onto the second phase of the trial because it means we are getting on with the job of delivering better services to our most vulnerable.’’
As the new Scheme moves into the next 12 months it will become available to residents of Lake Macquarie, with over 2,000 more participants expected to start receiving benefits under the NDIS banner.
By the end of the trial period over 10,000 people with disability will be funded by the NDIS in the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Maitland local government areas.
The number of people receiving disability support in NSW is expected to grow from 95,000 to 140,000 by 2018 – an increase of 47 per cent.