Debbie Blumel, CEO of the Children's Therapy Centre (CTC) based in Nambour.
Debbie Blumel, CEO of the Children's Therapy Centre (CTC) based in Nambour. Contributed

Disability service boss welcomes NIDS funding

THE head of a Sunshine Coast disability service has welcomed the Turnbull Government’s continued commitment to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) announced in this week’s Federal Budget.

Debbie Blumel, CEO of the Children’s Therapy Centre (CTC) based in Nambour, said the government’s decision to spend a further $27 billion on the NDIS over the next four years had reassured the disability sector the NDIS would start rolling out in Queensland on July 1 this year as originally planned.

Ms Blumel said although Mr Turnbull had endorsed the NDIS on his first day as Prime Minister, there had been some nervousness in the sector that funding would be wound back in a budget that was reported to be looking for spending savings.

“Mr Turnbull is on record as saying the NDIS is one of the largest social policy reforms in our nation’s history, so there is widespread joy among people with disabilities and their families that he has remained true to his word by allocating funds to deliver the scheme,” Ms Blumel said.

“Last March a new NDIS savings fund was established with an initial contribution of $160 million. Now this week’s budget has quarantined a further $2.1 billion in the account to be spent only on the NDIS.

“Though much of this funding has been found at the expense of NDIS transition speeds in some states and reduced allocations in other areas, it will come as a tremendous relief to people with disabilities that the new policies giving them more personal control over the cost and choice of treatment provider will definitely come into effect from 1 July as promised.”

Among the funds to be siphoned into the NDIS savings account are $70 million previously earmarked for an NDIS advertising splurge and $1.4 billion expected to be gained over five years by dismantling the carbon tax supplement for new pensioners and allowance recipients.

While the NDIS appears to be entrenched policy at present, there have been reports that Treasurer Scott Morrison issued a caveat regarding the fund’s quarantined status by indicating to news media that the money could be used by future governments for any “spending whims”.

But with the original NDIS policy surviving this year’s Budget, Ms Blumel said planning for the introduction and implementation of the scheme at the Children’s Therapy Centre on the Sunshine Coast was already well advanced.

Required changes to the centre’s business processes had already been addressed and current and new clients and their families and carers would be guided through any difficulties they might encounter during the transition period to the new scheme.

“Everyone will be given informed advice on negotiating any financial or bureaucratic hurdles that might be causing them anxiety. We don’t want anyone to stress.

“The important thing is that therapy will continue to be as professional and accessible as it always has been, with the children and their families having full access to the centre’s tertiary trained staff, including speech, physio and occupational therapists.

“We are also expanding the range of services that we offer to include post-hospital rehabilitation, developmental delays and general paediatric conditions.”