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<p>AAP Image/Alan Porritt</p>

AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Guide dog Wilie rests on ‘The NDIS: A Vision For All’ — a campaign organised by Guide Dogs Australia to ensure the NDIS supports the vision-impaired.

NDIS In A Nutshell

Here are a few key points on the scheme that would radically reform disability care in Australia.

On November 29 a trial stage for a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) scheme was launched by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The scheme would transform the lives of the disabled, she said, and was “the greatest change to Australian social policy in a generation.”

NDIS would offer a kind of insurance for all Australians against the risk of becoming significantly disabled, and would provide opportunities for people with a disability, information and referral services, and funds for tailored support packages.

Currently, states and territories each provide their own disability care policies and programs — services varies widely between jurisdictions and depending on a person’s condition.

The scheme was prompted by an August 2011 Productivity Commission report that described Australia’s system of disability services as “underfunded, unfair, fragmented, and inefficient’’, providing people with a disability with “little choice and no certainty’’. The proposed reform also follows concerted advocacy efforts such as the Every Australian Counts campaign.

In May, the federal government allocated $1 billion for a National Disability Transition Agency to fund the trial stage of the scheme over the next four years.

The scheme depends on the allocation of existing disability resources by individual states and territories. Labor-led South Australia, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory all immediately agreed to become launch sites. Later, the two highest-populated states also signed on, with New South Wales’s Hunter region and Victoria’s Barwon area also entering the trials.

However Western Australia, which has started its own disability care and support project called My Way, declined to participate in trials. And Queensland Premier Campbell Newman refused to allocate funding, blaming the state’s deficit.

Draft legislation for the scheme, introduced by the Prime Minister on Thursday, sets up a framework for the NDIS, including eligibility criteria, age requirements and other detailed rules. Already some state governments have criticised the legislation as too prescriptive.

Change is not assured until NDIS trials are complete — and unless state and territory level uphold their in-principle commitment to the reform. The scheme is up for review after two years of operation.

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