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  • Renee Cluff

    Email Renee Cluff

    Hopes the opening of the Cairns NDIS office can help ease the scheme's teething problems.


    Disability service providers say the opening of a Cairns office to co-ordinate the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), will help provide local answers to their client’s struggles as they negotiate the new funding system.

    The Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, officially opened the office at the southern end of Lake Street this morning.

    He was joined by representatives of local disability service providers.

    Among them was the CEO of ARC Disability Services, Benjamin Keast, who told Tropic Now that getting clients to their increasing number of appointments is proving difficult.

    “Challenges continue at all levels as the scheme rolls out and everyone learn the parameters,” he said.

    “Transport continues to challenge everyone.”

    Under the scheme, there is no funding commitment to directly cover the costs of maintaining the vehicles of disability providers.

    Before the NDIS, organisations were block-funded and used part of that money to maintain their fleets.

    Now, each dollar is linked to a service and the money is provided to individuals in the scheme, rather than service providers.

    Mr Keast, though, said he was confident the issue can be resolved, to prevent clients having to spend their funds on expensive taxis.

    “The local office is now an accessible location where participants and providers will be able to attend. 

    “A local point of contact for providers means obtaining local responses from the agency.

    “The office has a number of break out areas for participants to confidentially have conversations about their needs,“ he said.

    More than 4,700 local people with disabilities are expected to join the NDIS before June next year, to access the supports and services they need to enjoy their life.

    “Participants can now exercise more choice and control,” said Mr Keast. 

    “We are seeing our clients choosing to receive services from multiple service areas, and hearing feedback around the excitement of being able to plan for their future goals.”

    2,000 jobs are expected to be created to meet local demand.

    Mr Keast said ARC’s employee base climbed by 25 to 250 between July and October.