Shane Loft and Cheree Morton at the National Disability Insurance Scheme launch in Hervey Bay.
Shane Loft and Cheree Morton at the National Disability Insurance Scheme launch in Hervey Bay. Valerie Horton

Excitement and concern as NDIS launches on Fraser Coast

AS THE National Disability Insurance Scheme gets rolled out in the region this month, Hervey Bay's Cerebral Palsy League has celebrated its launch on the Fraser Coast.

The national rollout of the NDIS is on track to be finished by 2020, the NDIA has reiterated its commitment to getting the balance right between participant intake, the quality of plans and the sustainability of the scheme.

The NDIS is the largest health reform since Medicare, providing a new way of providing support for Australians with disability, their families and carers.

But some concerns are still held about potential gaps in the scheme, according to The Greens and Early Childhood intervention Australia.

Shane Loft, who has Fragile X syndrome, is excited by the rollout of the NDIS.

Shane Loft practises taking photos.
Shane Loft practises taking photos. Valerie Horton

A member of CPL, Mr Loft, 43, can't wait to get his boat licence.

He says the NDIS will be life-changing, adding that it will give him more opportunities to do things on his own,

"I think it will help me to do more things on my own," he said.

"I want to go on trips without my mum.

"I want mum to just be mum, I'm old enough to do things on my own."

Having already bought a new boat, the next step for Mr Loft is to get his boat licence.

"I love getting out on the water," he said.

"It keeps your mind relaxed."

But Margie O'Tarpey, the CEO of Early Childhood Intervention Australia, said the organisation had identified gaps "cohorts of children" who may not be eligible for the NDIS.

The organisation said children and families from linguistically diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, pre-term infants, rural and remote children and families, as well as others, may be ineligible.

There were also concerns children with autism could be disadvantaged by the scheme.

Senator Jordon Steele-John said that in establishing the NDIS it was understood that services would continue for those previously receiving support under state agreements.

"The purpose of the NDIS is to ensure disabled Australians and their families have choice and control about the care and support they receive," he said.

"It is about certainty and security, not fear.

"When the NDIS was setup many thousands of autistic children were included in the scheme to provide certainty to their families and carers that the support they were receiving under former state agreements would not end.

"Now, despite previous assurances, the NDIA have decided to 'back test' every one of those children meaning that under new guidelines, many are having their level of support diminished or entirely removed."

But an NDIA spokesman denied any child would be left behind.

"The NDIA has developed a nationally-consistent approach to early childhood early intervention, based on best-practice, for children under the age of six," he said.

"The approach seeks to ensure that all children with developmental delay and disability have access to specialist and capacity building supports.

"Many children and their families who do not meet the access criteria for an individual plan in the NDIS receive a range of supports through the developing national network of ECEI partners."

Are you or someone you know part of the NDIS? Tell us about your experience by contacting us at editorial@frasercoastchronicle.com.au.