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The momentous National Disability Insurance Scheme is now a reality in NSW, and with 12,000 already onboard, this transformative plan is only set to grow larger.
The NSW Minister for Disability Services is at the forefront of a revolution. Finally, people with disability will have real choice and control over their own lives. I’m not sure many of you will remember where you were on 1 July this year, but for people with disability, their families and carers, this was a red-letter day.
Why was it remarkable? Because half of NSW began transitioning to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, or NDIS.
People living from Budgewoi, Balgowlah and Bankstown to Bega and Blacktown have begun to access this life-changing scheme. The NDIS gives people choice and control. It gives them the power to choose the supports they want, when they want them and who provides them. More than 40,000 people with disability will transition this year, adding to the close to 12,000 people already in the Scheme in the Hunter and Nepean Blue Mountains. The rest of the state will transition from 1 July 2017.
Of course, the July 1 milestone doesn’t mark the end of the journey, it is only the beginning. The NSW Government and its partners will continue to learn and grow as we transition over the next two years to successfully bring the NDIS to all participants.
Participants like three-year-old Raiyaan, from Western Sydney, who was diagnosed with hearing loss at birth. I had the pleasure of meeting Raiyaan and his mum, Farida, at the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children who have provided the family with early intensive speech and language sessions. Farida told me she was very excited about the NDIS arriving in her area. “From now, we can actually concentrate on the things he needs other than what is set for us. For example, the next step for Raiyaan we really want is to get him into swimming classes and see what options we have to get him all the help he needs.” Then it will be preparing Raiyaan for school and making the most of all the latest technology which can make a huge difference to children’s lives. “I am optimistic that the NDIS will continue to advocate for Raiyaan and others,” Farida told me. Having boxed myself, I know from meeting Raiyaan that he has a fabulous right hook – so he might even become a world class boxer!
The NDIS is all about hopes and aspirations, and helping people with disability reach their full potential. We know that there will be ups and downs and that everything won’t be perfect – it rarely is when you are talking about a momentous social reform like the NDIS. I also understand that after such a long wait for the NDIS to arrive, people may be impatient with the pace of the rollout and concerned with the challenges that come with change, but I would like to reassure everyone that we are committed to smoothing those bumps and addressing any challenges as we transition over the next two years. To find out where the NDIS is now available, and how to access it, go to ndis.nsw.gov.au.
John Ajaka is the NSW Disability Services Minister