OUR SAY: Possibilities and pitfalls of disability scheme now on full display

MUCH NEEDED: "The facility will no doubt come as a relief to the families whose loved ones are able to reside there"
MUCH NEEDED: "The facility will no doubt come as a relief to the families whose loved ones are able to reside there"

WEDNESDAY marked another milestone for disability services in the area, with the first sod turned for supported disability accommodation by Housing Plus.

The $1.6 million project, to include four units, a counselling room and carers accommodation, would allow four people with a disability to live independently, with a carer onsite.

Once built, the facility will no doubt come as a relief to the families whose loved ones are able to reside there.

After all, many parents who raise children with disabilities are never able to truly retire – they love their children with all their hearts, but are faced with the terrifying question of what happens to their child when they too need care in their twilight years, or pass away.

As we farewell Maureen Horth after 25 years at Orange City Council for her own retirement, she is also a reminder that Orange City Council has been making similar efforts to improve the situation since the 1980s, with Phoenix House the first property fulfilling such a purpose. 

The council has acquired more homes since and between the two organisations, there is acute awareness of the problem.

But as Social Services and Disability Services Assistant Minister Jane Prentice said, about 6000 young people with a disability live in inappropriate accommodation nationwide, whether they be aged care homes or with ageing parents.

That means there is still a way to go before every person receives the care they need. 

The National Disability Insurance Scheme has brought much hope for care providers and those accessing that care.

Never before has the issue been more prominent than it was when then-prime minister Julia Gillard teared up in parliament, but there is also concern that people will slip through the cracks.

The scheme is based on the notion of giving people the right to choose which services they access and from which organisation.

But that means the organisations providing those services are only paid by the government for the people who sign up, meaning smaller bodies in regional areas might not receive enough funding to run the programs.

Governments need to be careful that this structure does not lead to a reduction in available services in the regions, or worse, a void in lower-demand sectors.