THE National Disability Scheme is making a profound difference to the lives of thousands of Hunter residents living with disabilities, one of the state’s most prominent disability advocates believes.
After a year of operation, about 2000 people are receiving services under the Newcastle NDIS trial.
The scheme will now be expanded to include Lake Macquarie, effectively doubling the number of people who will benefit.
Despite the expansion, Nicholas Gleeson, who spoke on behalf of NDIS partner Ability Links, said he was concerned at suggestions the scheme may be slowed.
‘‘From all reports I’ve heard it’s definitely helping people to have greater access to services and improve their lives.
‘‘We need to be speeding up the rollout, not slowing it down.’’
Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka visited Lake Macquarie yesterday to meet with clients who have moved on to the NDIS.
Mr Ajaka said the government was committed to a disability service that increased choice and control for people with disability.
“I am pleased we are moving onto the second phase of the trial because it means we are getting on with the job of delivering better services to our most vulnerable.’’
By the end of the trial period more than 10,000 people with disability will be funded by the NDIS in the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Maitland local government areas.
The number of people receiving disability support in NSW is expected to grow from 95,000 to 140,000 by 2018 – an increase of 47per cent.
Despite the government’s optimism, vocal families of some Stockton Centre residents are still angry at the changes and a community rally has been announced for Newcastle on Wednesday.
Public Service Association organiser Paul James said more than 1000 people had signed a petition highlighting problems with the NDIS.
‘‘As welcome as Mr Ajaka’s visit was, he’s done little to address staff concerns and his inaction may well lead to a workforce crisis that threatens the NDIS in NSW,’’ Mr James said.