Qld joins other states in support of Gillard Govt's NDIS
UPDATE: MORE than double the number of Queenslanders currently receiving disability support will be entitled to their own care after the Sunshine State signed up to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Queensland's arm of the Disability Care scheme will be funded almost 50:50 with the Federal Government and by its full implementation in 2019, 97,000 people with a significant disability will have a choice over their care and funding.
Currently, just less than 45,000 people with a high level disability in Queensland receive government support.
The Newman Government's signature to the NDIS comes after months of negotiating with the Gillard Government for an acceptable funding arrangement.
Premier Campbell Newman previously claimed the Commonwealth should fund the NDIS.
But talking to people with a disability at the Autism Queensland in Brisbane on Wednesday, it appeared he had gladly changed his mind.
The Queensland Government will contribute $2.03 billion to the scheme by 2018-2019 while the Commonwealth will pay for $2.14 billion.
Queensland's contribution will come from the $900 million already spent on disability services, plus the recently announced $868 million boost to the sector over five years and $200 million raised through the Medicare Levy increase.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said legislation to raise the levy would be introduced into Federal Parliament next week.
Mr Newman said it was a historic moment.
"I say to the people that have disabilities, their friends and their families, congratulations," he said.
"You have fought a good fight and convinced your fellow Australians and Queenslanders of the need to do something better than we have done before."
University student Anthony Kinnear, who has cerebral palsy, told the Queensland Premier at the announcement, the only way to describe what the NDIS meant to him was freedom.
"For all the thousands of people that have or will ever have a disability, this is the single greatest step to extend the equality we have, in the past 20 years," he said.
Queensland's signature means Western Australia and the Northern Territory are the only jurisdictions yet to commit to the NDIS.
Queensland's funding split is modelled on the NSW agreement, but NDIS chief executive Dr Ken Baker believes the landmark scheme would make a bigger difference in Queensland than other states.
"It's no secret that the Queensland disability system has struggled for decades," he said.
"The result of years of under funding for disability supports has meant long waiting lists and great financial and emotional stress for people with disability and their families."
Queensland is now expected to look at potential trial sites for the NDIS and in the past Gympie was flagged.
But Mr Newman said specific locations would be worked through with the Commonwealth.
Gympie MP Dave Gibson, who grew up with deaf parents, said the once-in-a-generation reform would mean people with disabilities, their carers and their families had options.
"This will result in greater independence and level of dignity that has not always been obtainable to those people who need it the most," he said.
The long-awaited commitment from the LNP Government even gained a pat on the back from the Queensland Opposition.
"This is an historic day - not just in terms of the provision of disability care, but also because it's the beginning of a more inclusive economy - one which provides more employment opportunities for people with a disability, as well as the chance for some long term carers to re-enter the workforce," Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt said.
WEDNESDAY: The Queensland NDIS will be funded almost 50-50 with the Federal Government.
Premier Campbell Newman confirmed this morning Queensland would commit $2.03 billion to the scheme, which will be fully implemented in 2019, while the Commonwealth will contribute $2.14 billion.
Queensland's contribution will come from the $900 million already spent on disability services per year, $868 million the Newman Government promised to increase the funding by over the next five years and $200 million from raising the Medicare Levy.
Currently, 45,000 Queenslander with disabilities receive government funding but that will increase to about 97,000 in 2019.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard stood side by side with Mr Newman today as he announced his commitment to the NDIS at Autism Queensland near Brisbane.
Ms Gillard said the NDIS was a big achievement but also costly.
"As two governments we have had to work together to put the money together to make this happen," she said.
Mr Newman originally claimed the NDIS should be funded through the Commonwealth.
Asked what had changed his tune, Mr Newman did not want to reflect from the occasion and only said he was guided by the Productivity Commission.
EARLIER: Queensland has officially signed up to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, paving the way for thousands of people with disabilities, their families and carers to get the support they need.
Premier Campbell Newman made the long-awaited announcement today while visiting Autism Queensland south of Brisbane.
"With the Commonwealth clarifying its position about how it will fund its component of the scheme, I am satisfied that Queenslanders with a disability now have certainty, meaning that we can proceed," he said.
"The scheme will revolutionize the way services and care are accessed and will see the largest ever boost to disability funding in Queensland."
All states have now signed up to NDIS except for Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
The scheme will insure every Australian in the event of sustaining a disability and about 410,000 people will receive funding support.
Former sportsman Peter Yeo has been a relentless advocate for disability support in Queensland, including for the NDIS.
He welcomed Queensland's signature and said it should have happened a long time ago.
"It's excellent this is at last happening," he said.
"It should have happened a long time ago from the federal government.
Mr Yeo referred to the Productivity Commission findings in 2011, which sparked the NDIS proposal, showing people with disabilities were being short changed.
The Commission found to provide Australians with a disability the support they need, funding from Federal and State Governments inclusively would have to increase by $6.3 billion annually.
"The money should be paid now and not in six years' time," he said.
Despite the momentous step in Queensland signing up to the scheme, Mr Yeo said there would still be a lot of questions asked by people with disabilities and their families, who will miss out on the NDIS in its first stage.
Mr Newman's commitment to the NDIS comes a week after Prime Minister Julia Gillard informed him a proposed increase in the Medicare Levy would generate the $200 million Queensland needed to sign up to the scheme.
The Queensland Government announced last year a boost in its disability funding by $860 million over five years and the launch of the Your Life Your Choice scheme.
The initiative allows people with disabilities to self-direct their own government funding.