NDIS rollout priority argument, Shepparton News, Shepparton VIC

Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell accused the Victorian Labor Party of not prioritising the Goulburn Valley when it came to rolling out the National Disability Insurance Scheme. But Labor Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said the Goulburn Valley was chosen as one of the last to receive the NDIS due to results of a study that assessed the capacity for existing services to manage the scheme. Ms Symes said it did not mean the Labor Party did not care about the northern Victorian districts. The Victorian and NSW schemes, which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull signed off on Wednesday, will roll out by districts instead of attempting to meet the needs of those on the waiting list first. Ms Lovell disagreed with this approach, which would have some districts get the service from July next year, but the Goulburn region would need to wait until January 2019. We decided to roll it out by taking people off the waiting list, she said. The former Victorian Liberal Government had an agreement with the Federal Government that those on the disability support register and early childhood intervention services wait lists would get first access. However, the Labor Party only signed off on the details of this Federal Labors initiative on Wednesday, and Ms Symes said this fresh approach was not a reversal of any established plan. Ms Lovell accused the Labor Party of tending to the needs of Ballarat and Bendigo participants earlier (in January 2017) because it has sitting members in the electorates. Ms Symes said the regional rollout was a safer option because the waiting list first approach had not worked in South Australia due to services not being ready for the scheme. She said the government did not want to services to buckle under the pressure in Victoria. Ms Symes said the Victorian Government released funding in April to help reduce the waiting list in preparedness for the NDIS rollout. She said participants were already coming off the waiting lists. Ms Symes said Goulburn Valley residents who needed high care services or were less than six years old could access the NDIS a year earlier. Ms Lovell was concerned some children in northern Victoria may never benefit from the scheme because it was only intended before they attended school. Ms Symes agreed that children in other districts would receive NDIS before those in the Goulburn region. She said by June 2019, 3615 participants from the Goulburn area that covers Greater Shepparton, Mitchell Shire, Moira Shire, Strathbogie Shire, Murrindindi Shire, Buloke Shire, Gannawarra Shire, Mildura Rural City Council and Swan Hill Rural City Council would be connected with the NDIS.