DisabilityCare to help 460,000

p12Nurses and carers have welcomed Labor’s historic reform of disability services in Australia.

The national disability insurance scheme, DisabilityCare, which opened for business on July 1, has been described as one of Labor’s most important reforms.

DisabilityCare Australia was launched in Tasmania for young people aged 15-24, in South Australia for children aged 0-14, and in the Barwon area of Victoria and the Hunter area in New South Wales for people up to age 65.

By the time the full scheme is rolled out nationally, in July 2019, about 460,000 Australians with disabilities will be benefitting.

DisabilityCare is for people who have “a significant and permanent disability that affects their communication, mobility, self-care or self-management, and who need assistance with everyday activities” according to the scheme’s website.

“This includes people who are dependent on a wheelchair or prosthesis for mobility, assistance from others in decision making, accessing the community and/or managing household tasks.

“DisabilityCare Australia will also support people who would benefit substantially from early intervention to prevent or reduce permanent disability.”

Labor has replaced the previous underfunded and fragmented system with guaranteed funding for services. The scheme will be paid for, partly, by an increase in the Medicare levy from 1.5% to 2%.

People with disabilities, and their carers, will have more choice over their support and more say in how that support is provided.

The Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin, said DisabilityCare would work with individuals to identify their individual goals and needs, develop individual plans, consider the support needed to strengthen caring arrangements, and connect people to service providers and community support services.

Developmental disability nurse Gary Dunne says it is an exciting time to be in disability nursing.

“Once DisabilityCare rolls out it’s going to make an incredible difference to the lives of a whole lot of people,” said Gary, who nurses at ADHC’s Summer Hill centre in Sydney.

John Hunter hospital midwife Debbie Lawson hopes the introduction of DisabilityCare will allow her daughter Olivia, who has Down Syndrome, to access services tailored to her individual needs “rather than the ‘one size fits all’ approach currently on offer from service providers.

“DisabilityCare is about putting power into the hands of families, allowing them to spend money to buy the services they really need,” said Debbie.

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Where the parties stand on DISABILITYCARE

Labor

Introduced historic reforms to disability services known as DisabilityCare.

Committed $1 billion to the trial sites, will raise $3.3 billion a year from the increased Medicare levy and committed an additional $14.3 billion over seven years to roll out the scheme nationally, in addition to existing Commonwealth disability funding.

Coalition

Tony Abbott initially opposed an increase in the Medicare levy to fund DisabilityCare, but the Opposition later voted for it in parliament. The Coalition says it is committed to fully funding the scheme.

Greens

The Greens attempted, but failed, to have the legislation amended to cover people aged 65 and over. A person must be under 65 when an access request is made.