In this issue:
Message from the CEO, David Bowen
Welcome to the third edition of the NDIS News update for 2014.
You may have noticed that the new national office of the National Disability Insurance Agency was launched in Geelong on 30 April.
The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, opened the new headquarters, and reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to the roll-out of the Scheme. The opening was well attended by participants, disability organisations and dignitaries including the Assistant Minister for Social Services, Mitch Fifield, the Premier of Victoria Denis Napthine and the Victorian Minister for Community Services, Mary Woolridge.
The event also allowed for the discussion of the stories of just some of the over 5,400 participants with a plan. These stories are critical to remembering what the Scheme is all about - assisting individuals.
The stories we heard at the event included that of Harry, 15, of Tasmania, who has a severe physical disability and complex health issues. He needs assistance from 1-2 people to manage his everyday needs and is always in the care and supervision of an adult. His father works full time and his mother works part time in two different jobs, structured around Harry’s needs. She has been unable to work during school holidays as support was not available for Harry.
Harry’s plan includes one-to-one support and group support for after school and for some school holiday days to enable Harry’s mum to continue to work. This means that his parents continue with their employment with some certainty.
Another story is of a South Australian mum, who has been out of the workforce so she can provide full-time care to one of her three children who has multiple disabilities and complex medical needs.
The NDIS funding is being used to provide flexible in-home support to help this mum return to work part time. She is returning to work one day a week and hopes to build from there. Before the flexible NDIS-funded in-home support, she had not thought that this was a possibility.
The NDIS is not just about supporting the participant, it is also generating flow-on benefits for family members, and in turn, the wider economy with greater workforce participation. The NDIS benefits all Australians.
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A positive portrait
There are many stories from the NDIS trial sites about the benefits of the Scheme and the opportunity for a better life for participants and their families.
Some of these stories attract the attention of media, including four-year-old Ella Noble, of Adelaide, whose experience was reported in Adelaide’s Sunday Mail newspaper on 6 April.
Ella was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition causing spinal cord nerves to deteriorate, weaken and eventually die.
While Ella has one of the less-severe types of the disease, she requires the use of a wheelchair and cannot stand or walk for long periods.
Ella cannot pursue ballet classes like her older sister but she has interest — and talent — in art and craft.
Ella’s plan also includes in-home support and hydrotherapy.
Her plan will be regularly reviewed and adjusted as she develops.
Budding artist Ella Noble, 4, left, practises her skills with sister Ava, 6, at their Adelaide home.
Federal Budget update
The NDIS was largely unaffected by the 2014-15 Federal Budget, handed down by the Treasurer Joe Hockey on 13 May.
The Scheme will continue its roll-out as planned – with the existing schedule and funding.
There will be some changes for the sector however, with the Government indexing pensions, including the Age Pension and the Disability Support Pension (DSP), to inflation rather than wages from September 2017.
Some DSP recipients aged under 35 who were granted DSP between 2008-11 will now be assessed under the current DSP Impairment Tables.
The Government will also provide $0.9 million over four years to establish the Disability and Carers Industry Advisory Council (DCIAC). The DCIAC will be co-chaired by a respected industry expert and the Assistant Minister for Social Services. The DCIAC will provide advice and recommendations to Government on proposed legislation and polices affecting the disability and carers sectors.
You can learn more about Budget 2014-15 by visiting its website.
Mental health appointment
Former Western Australian Mental Health Commissioner Eddie Bartnik has joined the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) as a strategic adviser.
Chairman of the NDIA Board Bruce Bonyhady said Mr Bartnik will play a major role in ensuring the Agency’s approach to mental health is robust and appropriate. He said Mr Bartnik will bring his vast experience in disability, especially local area coordination and community capacity building, to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
“We are thrilled to welcome Mr Bartnik — he has a long list of achievements in mental health and human services reform, most recently as inaugural WA Mental Health Commissioner,” Mr Bonyhady said.
“As Commissioner, he successfully established the Mental Health Commission as a new state government agency, overseeing 80 service provision contracts with public, private and community organisations supporting more than 48,000 people with mental illness,” he said.
“Mental illness and psychosocial disability are complex subjects in their own right and present significant challenges in relation to the NDIS.
“For example, the concept of permanent impairment that is central to the framing of the NDIS does not sit easily within the framework and language of recovery which are the basis of current best practice in mental health.
“Mr Bartnik’s experience and leadership will be pivotal in navigating these challenges and informing the Agency’s approach to these very important issues.”
He previously contributed to debate around the NDIS and looks forward to being directly involved in the Scheme.
“The NDIS is a much-needed reform that enables people with disability and their families to plan and build a good life in the community and have choice and control over the implementation of their reasonable and necessary supports,” Mr Bartnik said.
“I am excited to be a part of this landmark reform and its role in improving the lives of people with disability and their families,” he said.
Webinar: Meet the Governors
The fifth webinar in the NDIA’s #NDISwebinar series featured three distinguished guests on Wednesday, 16 April.
The webinar panellists have made great contributions to the development and operation of the NDIS to date and will undoubtedly continue this contribution as the Scheme matures. The guests were:
- Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator the Hon. Mitch Fifield
- Chair of the NDIA Board, Mr Bruce Bonyhady AM
- Principal Member of the NDIS Independent Advisory Council, Dr Rhonda Galbally AO
Facilitated by the NDIA’s Manager of Communications and Engagement, Dougie Herd, the panel discussed working together to build the NDIS and responded to questions about the Scheme from online and theatre audiences. Senator Fifield reiterated the Government’s commitment to the full Scheme roll-out of the NDIS.
The NDIA interactive webinars have now been accessed by more than 77,000 people via the NDIS website.
The webinar series is available online, with accessible content:
The next webinar, ‘Preparing for the NDIS’, will be held on 5 June. It will draw together a mixed panel of participants, carers and providers to discuss their experiences with the Scheme, as well as sharing knowledge and advice for future participants, families, carers or support providers.
Sign up for updates or visit the NDIS events page to find out about the next NDIS Webinar.
A computer screenshot shows NDIA’s Manager of Communications and Engagement, Dougie Herd, left, Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator Mitch Fifield, Chair of the NDIA Board Bruce Bonyhady and Principal Member of the NDIS Independent Advisory Council, Dr Rhonda Galbally at the webinar.
Preparing Queenslanders for NDIS
More than 550 delegates attended the Queensland Disability Conference in Brisbane on 24 and 25 March 2014 to hear about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the benefits, challenges and changes it would bring for Queenslanders with disability, providers and the broader community.
Interest from people with disability, families, carers, advocates, disability providers and government was so strong, the event was fully subscribed five weeks ahead of time.
The two-day program included keynote speakers, three panel sessions, 15 concurrent sessions and the Queensland Disability Awards.
Disability Services Minister Tracy Davis welcomed delegates and outlined how the Queensland Government was preparing for the implementation of the NDIS from July 2016.
She also shared her vision of Queensland as a strong state where about 97,000 people with disability will receive the support they need to live well — more than double the current number of Queenslanders receiving funded disability support.
“We will work closely with Queenslanders, families and carers to inform them about the NDIS and to prepare them for the greater choice and control over the disability supports the NDIS will bring,” Ms Davis said.
“And we will provide opportunities for providers and organisations to get ready to operate in the competitive NDIS environment.”
Assistant Minister for Social Services Senator Mitch Fifield, who is responsible for driving implementation of the NDIS in the Australian Government, provided a short video update and NDIA Chief Executive Officer David Bowen delivered the opening keynote address.
Director-General of Queensland’s Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, Michael Hogan, said it was clear everyone had a role to play in implementing the NDIS — individuals, families and carers, providers, government, mainstream services, researchers, business and industry, and the private sector.
The conference program, resources and recorded presentations are available online.
NDIA Chief Executive Officer David Bowen delivers a keynote presentation at the Queensland Disability Conference.
Photo courtesy of the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.
Trial site update (WA)
The NDIS passed another milestone when an agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the Western Australian government was signed, paving the way for a two-year trial of the Scheme in the Perth Hills area from 1 July.
The Perth Hills area covers the local government areas of Kalamunda, Mundaring and Swan. It is estimated that about 4,000 people with permanent and significant disability in the Perth Hills area may be able to access reasonable and necessary support by 2016.
As part of this agreement, a parallel service delivery model, My Way, will operate in the Lower South West Disability Services Commission (DSC) area from July and the Cockburn/Kwinana DSC area from July 2015.
The two trials will be assessed after two years of operation.
In a media release, Chairman of the Board of the National Disability Insurance Agency, Bruce Bonyhady, said preparations for the WA trial site were well underway.
The trial site Manager, Marita Walker began work at the NDIA in March and the Director, Engagement Kerry Stopher began last month. Recruitment of the initial group of staff is underway.
The fit-out for the new office, at 74-78 Railway Parade Midland, is continuing and will be ready to receive the first participants on 1 July.
In the May to June period there will be a general communication campaign to raise awareness of the commencement of the Perth Hills trial site as well as specific events targeted for potential participants and service providers.
The specific sequence of people to enter the Scheme over the two-year period is being finalised and will be shared in the coming weeks. Information required by service providers before registration is also a work in progress and registration will open in June.
National launch in Geelong
The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, officially opened the NDIA’s new National Office in Geelong on 30 April.
Mr Abbott took the opportunity to re-affirm the Government’s full commitment to the successful roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. He said the launch of the new headquarters, in a refurbished office in Brougham Street, Geelong, is a significant milestone in the Scheme’s development.
“The NDIS is currently operating in four trial sites and has helped more than 2,500 people with disability and their families by funding individualised support plans,” Mr Abbott said.
“From 1 July this year thousands more Australians living with disability will be supported when trial sites commence across the ACT, in the Barkly region of the Northern Territory and in the Perth Hills area of WA.”
Mr Abbott said the Agency’s move from Canberra to Geelong will provide an important economic boost to the local region and deliver new opportunities for the local workforce.
The new headquarters will employ more than 100 further staff across a diverse range of fields, including allied health, finance, community engagement and administration.
This is in addition to the 120 staff already employed by the Barwon NDIS trial site.
tba NDIS NSW Community & Provider Forums
01 International Children’s Day
05 NDIS Webinar: Preparing for the NDIS
15 Second phase of NDIS advertising campaign
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