NDIS decision could come next month

Taelor PeluseyAugusta Margaret River Times
Senses Australia's chief executive Debbie Karasinski and president Colin Emmett along with Disability Services Minister Stephen Dawson (centre) officially opened the not-for-profit organisation’s Margaret River branch on Tuesday.
Camera IconSenses Australia's chief executive Debbie Karasinski and president Colin Emmett along with Disability Services Minister Stephen Dawson (centre) officially opened the not-for-profit organisation’s Margaret River branch on Tuesday. Credit: Taelor Pelusey | Augusta-Margaret River Times

Disability Services Minister Stephen Dawson says a decision on the National Disability Insurance Scheme could be delivered within the next month as local service providers and clients seek certainty for the sector.

After launching the Margaret River branch of Senses Australia on Tuesday, the Minister acknowledged “lethargy” in the disability sector following years of trials and indecision, but told the Times it was a multi-billion dollar decision that could not be rushed.

“People have had trials for a number of years and people would like a decision made, but also ... lots of people have raised concerns about the fact that the last Government signed the deal with the (Federal Government) at five minutes to midnight before (going into) care-taker (mode),” he said.

“So most of them have appreciated me spending the time consulting, visiting the regions, talking to service providers, families, carers, unions, businesses, just to see exactly what they thought was the best way going forward.”

Mr Dawson said next month’s Budget would only detail the deal previously signed, but hoped a final decision would be made “over the next month or so”.

The previous Government signed onto the WA-delivered program, which is now in place in 12 local government areas across the State.

However, ongoing discussions between Labor and the Federal Government on whether WA should make the switch to the national scheme has service providers and clients seeking certainty going forward.

Senses Australia chief executive Debbie Karasinski said the organisation had no preference for the national or WA-delivered scheme and would “work effectively with whatever model the State Government decides upon”.

Community Home Care chief executive Sue Clements, whose organisation’s reach extends into Margaret River and Busselton, told the Times the WA system offered a more localised service that better addressed the “unique challenges” of the South West, which included lengthy distances between towns and limited transport options — exacerbated by the recent loss off the South West Wheels program.

Despite the preference for the WA-delivered program, Ms Clements said both schemes benefited the sector and the most important thing now was clarity.

“If we know what system we’re working in, we can adjust – but we need to know which system it will be,” she said.

Disability Services shadow minister Peter Collier supported the retention of the WA-delivered scheme and called for a swift decision.

“All I can say as shadow minister and as pseudo-representative for those groups that have spoken to me is we need that certainty sooner rather than later,” he said.

“I’ll take the Minster at his word and I’m sure he’s doing the right thing, but the sooner we can put an end to it the better.”

The WA NDIS was last month expanded to the Kimberley-Pilbara and South Metropolitan areas, and unless changes are implemented, it will continue its roll-out to the North Metropolitan Area, the Central South Metro and the Wheatbelt from July next year.

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