More than 200,000 Victorians and NSW residents with a disability will start getting national disability insurance scheme packages from mid-2016.
The premiers of the two states on Wednesday signed long-awaited funding agreements with the commonwealth in Canberra nutting out how the scheme will be rolled out to 245,000 eligible people.
That’s more than half of the expected 460,000 across the country due to get the scheme when it’s fully rolled out.
The federal government says the agreements will give certainty to people with disability and their families promising a lifetime of support.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the agreements balanced the need to get the scheme right while improving services.
‘We are working to deliver a scheme that stands the tests of time,’ he said in a statement.
NSW Premier Mike Baird said it was the culmination of several years of progress on something people had dreamed would never happen.
‘It is an absolutely inspirational day for the country.’
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said bipartisanship was important in finalising the agreements.
‘(But) it is not our day, this is a day for those who have campaigned for so long to deliver this sort of equity,’ he said.
Disability service providers say they can now start preparing to support thousands of people.
But the chief of National Disability Services Ken Baker said it was time to finalise implementation plans for the rest of Australia.
Negotiations are going well with the remaining states and the Northern Territory .
The scheme is expected to double spending on disability services by all Australian governments from 0.5 per cent of GDP to one per cent.
In the two years since operations began, almost 20,000 people have become eligible for the scheme.
Of these, just over 17,000 had approved plans at a total cost of $953 million.
The scheme is scheduled to be fully operational by 2020, with around 460,000 participants.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said it was proof to even hardened political cynics that reform was possible.
‘This … means more mums and dads can work. It means more children get to grow up and participate in our society,’ he told reporters in Canberra.
The opposition insists funding for the scheme is budgeted despite government claims.
Disability groups have urged other states to quickly follow NSW and Victoria.’
We cannot abide a situation where a person with disability in Victoria can obtain support and 100 metres away in South Australia there is no support,’ Australian Federation of Disability Organisations boss Matthew Wright said in a statement.