Age limit is 'discrimination'

THE Charlestown DisabilityCare office has been inundated with requests during the first week of the National Disability Insurance Scheme's Hunter trial amid lingering concerns about the program's parameters.

Three thousand people from the Newcastle local government area are expected to transfer into the scheme's Hunter trial over the next 12 months.

Since July 1 the 65 staff in the Charlestown office have received more than 350 general inquiries or service requests and have already made 90 appointments for July.

The national call centre received 5500 calls from people across Australia in its first five days.

Some participants have already signed up for a new individual plan and are receiving support under the new scheme.

Despite the popularity of the reform, angst remains among the aged about being excluded from the scheme.

Help is only available to those under 65, after which people are expected to be covered by the aged-care sector.

Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association of NSW senior policy advisor Amelia Christie said the 65 age cutoff was "simply age discrimination".

"The aged care system is not adequately equipped to deal with disability," Ms Christie said.

Samaritans chief executive Cec Shevels said he believed the age limit should be scrapped.

"Quite a few people might have a degenerative condition and go without support until they are 65 but if their condition worsens they're unable to apply after they are 65."

He said all people, including the disabled, were living longer.

The federal government said the Productivity Commission recommended the 65 age limit and said the system was not intended to duplicate the aged care system.

"People who enter DisabilityCare Australia before the age of 65 will have a choice to stay in the scheme once they turn 65 or enter the aged care system," a spokesman for Disability Reform Minister Jenny Macklin said.


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