A NEW national insurance scheme will offer wider support for people with disabilities, but also challenges for support agencies to sharpen their act.
Victoria’s first Disability Services Commissioner Laurie Harkin told a Warrnambool audience this week that the insurance scheme, which gained bipartisan support from federal politicians, would be offer clients a choice of service providers.
“Many people will find themselves eligible for services they do not access now,” he said.
“Provider organisations need to be ready.
“People will be able to set their own goals and aspirations and then plans must be delivered to ensure that’s what occurs.”
The insurance scheme, called DisabilityCare, is being trialled in Barwon district along with other spots around the nation.
It is expected to be rolled wider including the south-west between 2016 and 2019.
Mr Harkin was guest speaker at the 38th annual general meeting of Warrnambool-based Mpower which has a staff of 66 providing support services to 800 families across the Barwon-south-west.
“DisabilityCare will transform the way that people with a disability are supported,” chief executive Kerry Nelson and board president David Beggs said in their report.
“To compete in the marketplace services paradigm Mpower will need to adapt and further improve service delivery and design.
“Mpower is well placed to face these challenges and seeks to embrace the opportunities that will be provided to agencies and families.”
Mr Harkin who previously held leadership roles with the Department of Human Services, local government and the Salvation Army, said his role was to monitor the sector and help resolve complaints.
“People with disabilities might expect further sets of protection so they are not lost in the system,” he said.
“When trials of the insurance scheme are completed there will be clearer safeguards and complaints arrangements to ensure all clients are offered the same protection across all states.”
He said just as in aged care, where people had different expectations on what they regarded as satisfactory support services, so it would be in the disability sector.
“It’s good to ensure people with disabilities are actively engaged in the community,” he said.
Mpower’s annual report shows it achieved a $337,520 surplus last financial year, had an income of more than $3.2m, expenses of $2.88m, assets of more than $2.7m and cash reserves of $2.1m.