The upcoming ACT Budget will allocate $1.8 million to cover service gaps in the National Disability Insurance Scheme and help people struggling to navigate the new support environment.
Minister for Disability, Children and Youth Rachel Stephen-Smith said the transition to an entirely new service model was complex and the ACT Government was committed to ensuring that no-one seeking support was left behind.
The ACT is the first Australian jurisdiction to roll out the NDIS, but it has been beset by complaints from clients about delays, bureaucratic inflexibility and poor communication.
$1.1 million will be available to purchase necessary supports for people with a disability who have high and complex support needs that are not being fully met by the NDIS.
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The measure will also fund staff within the Office for Disability who will work with the National Disability Insurance Agency and the mainstream service system to ensure that those people with complex support needs receive a coordinated service response.
There will also be $400,000 over two years for independent individual advocacy for people who require assistance to navigate the NDIS.
An Integrated Service Response program will monitor service gaps and NDIS implementation issues and work with the NDIA and across the ACT Government.
Ms Stephen-Smith said the Government would engage with community stakeholders and disability advocates to ensure the Integrated Service Response program reached the Canberrans most in need and that clear channels exist for referrals.
“Community stakeholders and service providers play an important role in supporting the daily needs of Canberrans with disability and we will continue to work closely with them during this transition to the NDIS,” she said.
The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) welcomed the announcement, with Policy Manager Craig Wallace saying that ACTCOSS last year highlighted the need for more transition support in Stories of Transition in which Canberra people with disabilities revealed the issues that they were experiencing in the transition to the NDIS.
“The Stories of Transition highlighted a number of immediate jobs for both the ACT Government and the Federal Government in getting the NDIS transition back on track. These included maintaining contingency funds to ensure the ACT retains key social supports and infrastructure, and supports the sectors that manage the change – including advocacy,” he said.
“The NDIS is a joint Commonwealth and State/Territory rollout. It was also never intended to be the end of the line for Territory responsibilities for citizens with disability.
“The ACT Legislative Assembly Inquiry into the implementation, performance and governance of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in the ACT has heard compelling evidence from people with disabilities and families falling through gaps in the system during the transition.
“Going forward we would welcome signs that the National Disability Insurance Agency and the Australian Government are also listening and setting the NDIS back on track. The means putting person centred planning back at the centre of a person centred scheme; reducing complexity; focusing on human rights and getting better at co-design with local people.
“Work also remains to ensure that the mainstream delivers for people with disability through municipal services and in areas like housing that remain a clear responsibility of the Territory.”
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