Premier Mark McGowan said his decision to sign Western Australia up to the federal National Disability Insurance Scheme this week would not set back disability support as it is implemented.
Mr McGowan announced on Tuesday that he had signed an agreement with Canberra to join the federal NDIS program, which he said would give greater choice to individuals who require support with their disability.
He said the federal model provided more future funding certainty, jobs and choice for people receiving support than the state-run program approved by former Colin Barnett in February.
“It expands the opportunities for more people to get support,” he said.
“It provides more choice and control for individuals and their families.
“It provides funding and certainty around the scheme for the long-term future, so people can be certain about lifetime care.
“On virtually every front it’s a good decision.”
Mr McGowan said concerns by disability service providers that services could be delayed by up to 18 months as the scheme is rolled out across Western Australia were wrong.
“It won’t set it back,” he said.
Before the NDIS was introduced in 2013 state governments contracted disability service providers to deliver services to people who were virtually locked-in to that provider.
Under the federal system people living with a disability are provided with a funding package determined by their needs, and are given the choice of which provider to use.
The State Government said up to 40,000 people were expected to be on the service once it is rolled out, and WA will provide 60 per cent of the funding until 2020 when it will be evenly funded by the State and Federal Government.
People already on the WA NDIS will be gradually phased onto the federal system from April 2018.
Armadale resident Filomena Zagari, 56, lives with multiple sclerosis, and already receives support through the state-run program.
Mrs Zagari had no complaints about the service she had received so far, but will now have the option to seek support elsewhere if she wishes.
Mrs Zagari has lived with MS for about 10 years but in the past six months has needed to use a walking stick.
She receives therapy once a week paid for by the NDIS and said she did not doubt the regular sessions – which had been billed at $7000 a year – had helped her stay active.
“It stabilises us,” she said.
“At home I still do everything: washing, cooking.”
“Each year you might get worse, but doing the exercise keeps you moving.”