The launch of DisabilityCare Australia, the national disability insurance scheme, is just around the corner, and a lot of hard work is going into ensuring that everything is ready for 1 July.
Last week the Prime Minister and Victorian Premier announced Geelong as the location of the head office of DisabilityCare Australia. This is great news for Geelong and another step towards the full rollout of the scheme by 2019.
Once DisabilityCare Australia is fully rolled out, it will support around 460,000 people with significant and permanent disability. It is being rolled out gradually over the next few years because it’s a big change to the current system and we need to make sure everyone is properly supported to make the transition into the scheme.
The launch of DisabilityCare in selected sites across the country will allow us to evaluate the operation of the scheme throughout the implementation process, and learn ahead of full scheme roll out.
The most important things we learn will come from the experiences of people with disability participating in the scheme, as well as their families and carers, service providers and community organisations.
The National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University of South Australia has been selected to conduct an independent expert evaluation of the DisabilityCare Australia launch over the next three years.
The evaluation will help inform the future rollout of DisabilityCare Australia, and will provide us with invaluable insight into what works and what refinements might needed to the scheme.
The Australian Government is also establishing a separate division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to conduct independent reviews of decisions made by DisabilityCare Australia. This will ensure that people who request an independent review will be seen by AAT members experienced in considering DisabilityCare decisions and working with people with disability.
We know that some people seeking an AAT review may want support while going through the review process. The Australian Government has also provided $860,000 in 2013-14 to support people through the AAT external review process.
We will also fund specific National Disability Advocacy Program providers in launch sites to provide support persons to assist applicants seeking an AAT review of DisabilityCare Australia decisions.
The evaluation and the independent review process will be important elements in the transition to the new scheme.
After all, we are not just making a few tweaks. We’re completely reforming the system.
And we want to build a scheme that stands the test of time.
Jenny Macklin & Amanda Rishworth