Kymberly Martin

New NDIS initiatives announced

Improving the participant experience, establishing a national disability gateway and setting new disability employment targets were among new policies announced by Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher at a press conference at Sunnyfield Disability Services in Sydney.

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“There are a number of elements around building on what we are already doing in the NDIS and measures going beyond the NDIS,” the minister said.

A single point of contact for every participant within the NDIS  will be rolled out gradually, starting with those getting new plans. “Over time everyone will have a single point of contact and the length of time a plan can operate will be increased to three years for people who have stable conditions,” he said.

Reducing the process of having a new plan is another initiative with the government committed to a Participant Service Guarantee, legislated to take effect in 2020, once the target of 460,000 to the full scheme is reached. It will set new standards for shorter timeframes for people with disability to get a plan and have their plan reviewed with a particular focus on children and participants requiring specialist disability accommodation and assistive technology.

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The NDIS community connectors program is being expanded to support hard to reach communities and a national information gateway will be developed comprising a website and 1800 number supported by a call centre, intended to help people with disability locate services in their community.

Employment remains a key focus. “We want to increase employment levels and implement a target of 7 per cent recorded employment of people with disability in the Australian Public Service by 2025. I am confident of meeting this target. When you demonstrate the capabilities of what people with disability can do, rather than what they are not able to do, we find many can easily fulfill a whole range of roles.”

He said providing services to people with disability has been a priority in the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) with 10 per cent of its workforce people with disability and over 7 per cent of employees in his department have a disability.

Sunnyfield CEO, Caroline Cuddihy said the organisation was a great supporter of the NDIS and has seen the real benefit it provides to over 2000 clients Sunnyfield has across NSW and the ACT. “These extra initiatives that have been announced will make a positive difference to people with disability in the community,” she said.

MP for Warringah Tony Abbott described Sunnyfield as just about the happiest workplace he has been to. “There is an enormous amount you can teach us in Parliament House and that is to be happy in our work. You are a wonderful example and inspiration to us all.”

Image: Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher, Sunnyfield CEO Caroline Cuddihy and MP Tony Abbott

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