Hunter groups keen to trial NDIS

HUNTER disability service providers say they face a major task to prepare for the rollout of a national disability insurance scheme but were keen to get on with the job yesterday after news that the region would be the country’s largest launch site.

NSW Disability Services Minister Andrew Constance visited the Newcastle-based head office of service provider Lifestyle Solutions yesterday, following an agreement reached a day earlier between state and federal governments over how the trial would be paid for.

The region would be among a number of trial sites in the country where the Medicare-style scheme would begin from July 1, ahead of a national rollout.

But the Hunter would be the largest, involving 10,000 people.

‘‘It’s great news for 10,000 people with a disability in the Hunter, who will have their needs assessed and will start to receive individual care and support packages from mid-next year,’’ Mr Constance said.

Lifestyle Solutions managing director David Hogg said the organisation, which supports a few hundred people with disabilities in the region and on the Central Coast, was ‘‘very keen to see it happen’’.

‘‘A lot of people that we’re supporting are very excited but I think the people who will be more excited are the ones that at the moment miss out because of a system that is ineffective and fractionalised,’’ he said.

‘‘They now will receive a service and receive support.’’

Mr Hogg said he was confident the organisation would be ready to meet the July 1 start date set by the federal government ‘‘but it certainly will be a lot of work’’.

‘‘It’s a whole new way of looking at support,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s going to be a funding system that is entitlement based rather than based on a lottery or inequity in terms of the current system.’’

The organisation has run a pilot program for the past three years across the state that allowed clients to select and self-manage

their services, which would ready it for the scheme’s launch, he said.

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