New South Wales and Victoria will have access to the landmark National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) after signing a deal with the federal government today.
The agreement gives 140,000 people in NSW and 105,000 in Victoria access to the NDIS.
NSW premier Mike Baird said an additional 50,000 people will receive support as a result of today’s historic agreement.
“It is an absolutely inspirational day for the country,” Baird said.
“It will absolutely make a difference to their lives.”
In his first full day as prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull realised one of the dreams of his Labor rival, Bill Shorten.
The PM hailed it as “one of the largest social policy reforms in our nation’s history”.
Turnbull says that 460,000 people nationally will have access to the scheme. The roll-out starts in July next year with New South Wales and Victoria.
But the NDIS, which Shorten designed while in government, does not come cheaply, with arguments over the funding dogging the program. It had bipartisan support, but the Abbott government accused Labor of failing to properly fund the scheme, a claim denied by Shorten.
Negotiations with the remaining states and Northern Territory continue, but the NDIS is expected to double the amount spent on disability services to around 1% of GDP. At the moment around 17,000 people are on NDIS plans at a cost of just under $1 billion.
It will cost the Commonwealth around $2.6 billion annually in 2020 when fully operational and Victoria’s yearly bill is estimated at $2.5 billion.
The prime minister said the cost will be carefully monitored.
“The roll-out will be carefully managed to ensure the delivery of an NDIS that stands the test of time,” Turnbull said.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said the signing finally delivered justice for people seeking a “fair go”.
“This is a day for those who have campaigned for so long to deliver this sort of equity,” he said.
In Victoria, the Northern East Melbourne, Central Highlands and Loddon regions will join the scheme from 1 July 2016.
The regions of Inner Gippsland, Ovens-Murray, Western District, Inner Eastern Melbourne, Outer Eastern Melbourne, Hume-Moreland and the Bayside Peninsula will commence from July 2017, followed by Southern Melbourne, Western Melbourne, Brimbank-Melton, Goulburn, Mallee and Outer Gippsland from July 2018.
In New South Wales, the rollout starts with the Central Coast, Hunter-New England, Nepean-Blue Mountains, Northern Sydney, South-Western Sydney, Western Sydney, and Southern NSW regions.
The Illawarra-Shoalhaven, Mid North Coast, Murrumbidgee, Northern NSW, South-Eastern Sydney, Sydney, Western NSW, and the Far West regions will start entering the scheme from July 2017.
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