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Disability Care Australia - One big difference to lots of lives

DisabilityCare Australia e-news

Issue 1, 30 July 2013

In this issue:

Message from Bruce Bonyhady, Chair of the DisabilityCare Australia Board


As the inaugural chair of the DisabilityCare Australia Board, I’m pleased and excited to welcome you to the first e-news update from DisabilityCare Australia.

It is quite long, because there is a lot to tell you about!

The journey from the big idea of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to the reality of DisabilityCare Australia opening its office doors to the public on 1 July has been a long one. Many of you reading this newsletter will have been active in helping to convert that big idea into a reality. For that support, on behalf of the Board, I thank you.

The diversity, dedication and commitment of people across the disability community and beyond means that a NDIS will, over the next few years, become progressively available to all Australians with significant and permanent disability acquired before they turn 65.

We’ve taken the first steps on a long but important journey – to implement the new scheme in way that will support people with disability and be sustainable over the long term.

The main aim of the Board is to provide DisabilityCare Australia with the strategic direction and policy guidance within which David Bowen, our CEO, and his staff will ensure the Agency is managed well and support arrangements implemented effectively.

The Board will be working with every shareholder government around Australia to support the scheme’s implementation as we move from launch to transition and then full roll-out of the NDIS.

I hope you find the snapshots, included in this newsletter, helpful and inspiring.

One of the things we have already noticed is that many people who are starting to access DisabilityCare want to take more time to think about their futures and plan. This is great to hear and highlights the importance of decision making under the NDIS.

Therefore this e-news highlights a project undertaken by the Speak Out Association of Tasmania as part of the Practical Design Fund. It was aimed at a broad group of participants to assist them make decisions and I saw the video they produced at the DisabilityCare Conference and particularly enjoyed it:

Watch the video on Youtube.

I’ll be writing to you regularly to keep you informed about our progress and as we develop the scheme I will look forward to receiving your feedback and answering your questions.

Please pass this email on to your family, friends and associates, so they too can keep up to date, by registering below.

Best wishes


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Open for business!

With the historic launch of DisabilityCare Australia on 1 July, people with disability are starting to receive support through DisabilityCare Australia. Locally-based staff members are assisting adults with disability and families with children with disability to develop individual plans, answering general enquiries and providing information to the local community.

DisabilityCare Australia’s shop-fronts in South Australia, Tasmania, the Hunter (NSW) and Barwon (Victoria) were officially opened on 1 July, involving the staff, people with disability, families and carers, support providers, stakeholders and Australian Government representatives (including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin).

When the design and features of the shop fronts were being worked on it was a priority to involve people with disability, their families and carers. They provided advice, contributed their views on desirable office features such as location, layout and amenities.  People visiting the shop fronts in the first few weeks have commented very positively on the welcoming staff, attractive offices, and most importantly, accessible features such as wide corridors, good parking, hearing loops, signs in Braille, and tactile ground surface indicators.

For more information about the shopfronts, including address details, have a look at the website.

Why we are gradually rolling out DisabilityCare Australia and what it means for you

DisabilityCare Australia is being introduced in stages because it’s a very big change. It’s also a permanent change, so we want to get it right and implement the scheme in a gradual and sustainable way.

From 1 July 2013, DisabilityCare Australia began in Tasmania for young people aged 15-24, in South Australia for children aged 0-14, and in the Barwon area of Victoria and the Hunter area in NSW for people up to age 65. From 1 July 2014, DisabilityCare Australia will commence across the ACT, and the Barkly region of Northern Territory. Roll out of the full scheme in these states and territories, as well as Queensland, will commence progressively from July 2016.

These arrangements were discussed and agreed with state and territory governments, to make sure people who enter the scheme are properly supported and receive the right services for their individual needs.

DisabilityCare Australia is a very complex reform and our responsibility is to get it right for future generations as well as meet current and in many cases, pressing needs.

This has led to the development of very careful and staged implementation plans for the scheme in the launch locations. These are based on many factors, with one of them being the number of people currently receiving disability services.

We also know that at times people need to move for example, to take up a new job and the launch arrangements allow for this.  It is important for people to know however, that if they move into a launch site solely because they intend to seek access to DisabilityCare Australia, they will not be able to do this.  Under the NDIS Act 2013  to seek access to the scheme a person must have been living in one of the launch locations on 1 July 2013 (and meet the other access requirements, such as age).

So, if you don’t live in one of the launch sites, or you (or your child) don’t meet the age requirements in South Australia or Tasmania, please be patient.

We understand you don’t want to wait longer than you have to. However, we need to make sure we learn everything we can before full rollout, and that means making sure that people who already live in the launch locations are properly supported before we can support others.

In the meantime, you will continue to receive your existing supports and over the next few months, more information will be available from our website and through providers, so you can start planning ahead for what the scheme will mean for you.

Regional reflections from Tassie and the Hunter

DisabilityCare Australia in Tasmania has shopfronts in Hobart, Launceston and Devonport.

Launch Manager, Sue Ham, leads a team of 32 DisabilityCare Australia staff and four Local Area Coordinators (through Gateway Services—Mission Australia and Baptcare). Sue has led the launch team in Tasmania since October 2012, returning to Tasmania after six years managing Housing, Disaster Recovery and Indigenous programs within the Australian Government’s Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. With many years leadership experience in Tasmania across a range of community sector, disability and peak organisations, Sue’s  background has been invaluable in building strong relationships and in engaging with the broad community sector, mainstream and government departments.

photo of Ross

Ross is a young person in Tasmania, and he shares his perspectives on the introduction of DisabilityCare Australia.

‘It’s fantastic.  I mean who wouldn’t want more choice.  To a certain extent we are kind of boxed in, I think, at times. But this will give us a lot more freedom and it’s about time we had that I think. We deserve it.’

‘The fact that the community has rallied so much behind this, it’s quite a nice feeling to be part of the community when you see so much change happening. Because… change is a good thing and this has needed to happen for so long.  It’s great.’

Photo of Paul Byrne

Paul Byrne is the CEO of Veranto and Tasmania, and his perspectives are: ‘I think the opportunity for people who are living with a disability, for their families and carers to be the architects of their own destiny, I think is a great opportunity.  I think it’s an opportunity for service providers to look at their models of service, and we’re certainly doing that, to look at how we can have the flexibility to meet the needs of people.’

‘I think Tasmania is a great choice as a launch site because we are a microcosm of the rest of the country. We have a good mix of rural and remote. We also have the benefit of having a good spread of organisations throughout those regional areas.

‘We are focussing on introducing person centred philosophy right across the organisation, which will put the person living with a disability right at the centre of what we do and we are looking to respond, not only what is in the interests of people, but what is best for them and what is important to them.’

Future DisabilityCare Australia e-news will include updates from the launch sites in the Barwon area in Victoria, the Hunter in NSW and South Australia.

Meet DisabilityCare Australia’s staff

Amber, a Regional Support Officer at DisabilityCare AustraliaIn each issue, we’ll profile one of DisabilityCare Australia’s officers.

In this issue we meet Amber, a Regional Support Officer in the St Marys, South Australia office.

In her role as a Regional Support Officer, Amber assists people with information and advice about DisabilityCare Australia. She also assists parents and carers whose children will be participants in the first stage launch in South Australia when they come into the office for the first time. Amber remains the first point of contact for the families as they move through the planning and implementation process.

Amber was pleased to share her reflections on the commencement of the scheme.

How has it been in the St Marys office over the first few weeks?

‘It has been amazing – it’s been so personally rewarding and so inspiring to make a contribution to building an organisation this important from the ground up. I’ve never been quite so busy before in any other work role.’

What sort of information or advice have people been seeking?

‘Most of the general enquiries I have fielded have been from people who have already completed My Access Checker, so my role has been to provide them with more detailed information about the planning process and to help them organise their first appointment with the planner.’

What have you most enjoyed?

‘Mostly the sense of doing something so important and potentially life changing for people with disability. I feel a bit like a pioneer – and seeing it all come together so well after our weeks of training is a really great feeling. Every morning I get up and my first thought is how lucky I am to have this opportunity to help others.’

What are you most looking forward to over the first year?

‘I think I’m looking forward to seeing people put their children’s plans into action - and I am looking forward to getting the feedback from those families I have worked with about how the scheme is helping them.’

Results of the Practical Design Fund projects

The Practical Design Fund has funded a range of projects to identify practical solutions and innovative methods to assist people with disability, their families and carers and the disability sector prepare for DisabilityCare Australia.

Transitioning to DisabilityCare Australia can be a challenge for people used to other systems. The Practical Design Fund aims to support individuals and grassroots organisations contribute to the implementation and success of DisabilityCare Australia. 73 projects were funded and completed in 2012-13.

A strong, prepared and innovative disability sector is critical to the success of DisabilityCare Australia. The Practical Design Fund is a $10 million grass roots program that is providing practical solutions and innovative approaches to assist people with disability, their families and carers, and the disability sector to prepare for and participate in DisabilityCare Australia.

DisabilityCare Australia publishes the results of projects on the website.

Given the interest that participants and potential participants will have in choice and decision-making, the following project highlights the issue in a fun and accessible way.

Project spotlight:

The Speak Out Association of Tasmania Inc. has developed a toolkit of resources to train young people with intellectual disability about choice and decision-making.

The toolkit includes an animated video available on YouTube, a self-determination workbook, a poster and worksheets.

The animation in the video provides messages on decision-making in an uncluttered format that is engaging and prompts discussion.  The video and other tools can be used by a broad range of people, young people themselves, schools, service providers, parents, self-advocacy groups and DisabilityCare Australia.

The worksheets use the characters in the video to prompt young people to think about how they want people to support them, what would they like from a service, what decisions they want more say in and who they trust to help them to make decisions. Checklists provide prompts for young people to assist them to think of the questions they should ask and the information they need when they want to make a choice about which service to choose, across a range of different areas in their life.

Check out the YouTube video.

What’s interesting on the website?

Have you visited the website yet? It provides useful information to people with disability, potential participants, families and carers, and providers about the national disability insurance scheme.

Take the time to explore the website, including the following resources:

  • If you have an interest in the detail about how DisabilityCare Australia works, you can look at the operational guidelines.
Copyright in DisabilityCare Australia e-news is held by DisabilityCare Australia. Material in DisabilityCare Australia e-news can be used, copied or adapted provided the source is attributed. DisabilityCare Australia e-news is subject to Creative Commons BY licence.