12/12/2017 - 13:32

WA joins national disability scheme

12/12/2017 - 13:32

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The state government has announced its decision to join the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), replacing the agreement signed in January by the Barnett government for a locally administered NDIS.

Julie Waylen says joining the NDIS provides needed certainty but challenges lie ahead. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The state government has announced its decision to join the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), replacing the agreement signed in January by the Barnett government for a locally administered NDIS.

From July 1 2018, the National Disability Insurance Agency will assume responsibility for the delivery of the NDIS in Western Australia, putting control over the WA disability scheme into the Commonwealth’s hands.

The NDIS will continue to roll-out on a geographic basis and will be fully executed across WA by 2020.

People already taking part in the WA NDIS will transfer to the nationally delivered scheme in a phased approach, beginning in April 2018 and running until December 2018.

Industry association National Disability Services WA state manager, Julie Waylen, said while it was good to have certainty, there would be significant challenges with implementation and transition ahead.

Today's decision comes a week after NDS said business confidence in the disability services sector nationally had fallen after the first 18 months of transition, with problems including unrealistic pricing, red tape, policy uncertainty, workforce shortages and inefficient NDIS systems.

Today, Ms Waylen said other states, including Victoria and NSW, had invested around $30 million into facilitating their transition and WA would require a similar level of support for effective execution of the national scheme.

Greens disability spokesperson Alison Xamon said certainty over the NDIS in WA was long overdue and transparency was needed.

“Nine months have now passed since the ALP was elected and people with a disability have been experiencing considerable anxiety not knowing what supports they can access and when,” she said.

“Service providers, too, have been operating in limbo since July 1 when the roll-out of the WA system began.”

This was in addition to several years waited since the question of WA joining the national scheme was first raised in 2013, Ms Xamon said.

She said it was vital people with disability and their representative organisations were included in governance structures and had a say in the way support services were delivered.

“I am relieved the time, energy and money wasted during the long period of uncertainty can now be directed at solving implementation challenges instead; and there have been many challenges," Ms Xamon said.

“However, we also need to know more detail about what joining the federal system means for people with a disability and their support organisations and we need to know the details of what has been agreed within the bi-lateral agreements.” 

Joining the national NDIS scheme will mean about 15,000 more Western Australians will receive support on top of an existing 25,000, and 8,000 jobs will be created, Premier Mark McGowan said.

Disability Services Minister Stephen Dawson said a state-operated NDIS could not match the capacity and resourcing that could be achieved by a wholly national scheme.

“I also believe that Western Australia would be better placed to influence the future direction of the NDIS as part of a national approach, rather than as an outsider,” Mr Dawson said.

Shadow disability services minister Peter Collier disagreed with the decision, and said the it would force people with disability to negotiate their way forward by phone with a team of people based in Geelong, Victoria.

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