Message from the Hon. Coralee O’Rourke MP, Minister for Disability Services, Minister for Seniors, and Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland
I hope you had a happy new year and some time out with your family and friends over the holiday season. 2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year for people with disability, their families and carers, as we move closer to the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Queensland.
I look forward to keeping you updated throughout the year with key information from government about the NDIS and other initiatives for people with disability.
North Queensland early launch
In September, the Premier and I announced that the NDIS would launch early in North Queensland. This means eligible young people with disability under 18 in Townsville and Charters Towers, and all eligible people with disability on Palm Island will be the first Queenslanders to start accessing the benefits of the NDIS in Queensland.
Local Area Coordinators (LACs) have been appointed and they’re working with participants to start their planning. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with some of the new LACs and they are very passionate and excited about their roles. I know many families are counting down to the NDIS launch, so it’s great news that as many as 600 people will be receiving their funded packages by 1 July this year.
In December I also presented at a forum of Townsville businesses about the economic opportunities provided by the NDIS early launch. It was great to see so many organisations enthusiastic about making the most of these opportunities. The NDIS will completely change the way people with disability access support and services, making them a powerful new group of consumers in a growing market. Already we’ve seen businesses delivering ballet schools specifically for children with disability, respite camping adventures and wheelchair snorkelling adventures. The possibilities are endless, and I can’t wait to see Townsville businesses work to meet this growing demand.
The early launch offers us a unique opportunity to test NDIS rollout processes in Queensland ahead of the full implementation. I congratulate the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), departmental and sector staff who have worked so hard over the break and into the new year to ensure the launch is carefully managed and well supported.
CareCareers comes to Queensland
In addition to the benefits to people with disability, the NDIS is also expected to create up to 13,000 new jobs in Queensland’s disability sector when fully implemented. With this in mind, I’m pleased to let you know about CareCareers, a not-for-profit initiative aimed at attracting talented staff from all backgrounds to work in the community care and disability sectors. CareCareers is set to be rolled out across Queensland from February this year with an interactive jobs website www.carecareers.com.au and call centre providing career advice for workers in the sector.
CareCareers has been operating successfully in NSW for some time, and has so far attracted up to 15,000 new people to work in the industry. They will have a representative on the ground in Townsville shortly to provide support to employers and job-seekers interested in opportunities in the sector.
Alongside CareCareers is ‘Project Able’ – a program to be rolled out in schools and other education facilities to raise awareness among students of the growth and career opportunities in the disability and community sector.
Bilateral agreement status
I know many Queenslanders are waiting for further information about when, where and how the NDIS rollout will occur from 1 July. I understand how important it is to have certainty around the rollout, so that you can properly plan for the future.
I have been in regular contact with the Federal Government, and my Department has been working closely with their Commonwealth counterparts towards finalising the Bilateral Agreement, which sets out how the NDIS transition will occur.
The Queensland Government has been working tirelessly to finalise the Bilateral Agreement, which sets out how the NDIS transition will occur. Our main priority is to make sure the agreement provides the best deal possible for Queenslanders.
Fair access for Queensland to the DisabilityCare Australia Fund (DCAF) remains the critical point to be finalised. Queenslanders have been paying extra towards the DCAF through additional Medicare Levy payments since 2014, so it is only fair that we receive our share of funding to enable a smooth rollout.
Without access to this funding the majority of Queenslanders with disability will have to wait until the third and final year of the rollout to enter the NDIS. This means that thousands of people with disability will have to wait to experience the benefits of the NDIS, and it would put extreme pressure on the scheme in the final year.
It is important to remember that both the Commonwealth and Queensland governments remain committed to the implementation of the NDIS in Queensland. The Queensland Government will continue to work hard to ensure the NDIS is a success in Queensland.
Connect with the NDIA