Acting PM Barnaby Joyce hears NDIS concerns in Tamworth

WHIRLWIND VISIT: From left: Prue Ditchfield, Jean Caulfield, Olivia Slade, Breanna Penfold, Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Ben Fennel and Aaron Hemmings. Photo: Gareth Gardner 230916GGA04

WHIRLWIND VISIT: From left: Prue Ditchfield, Jean Caulfield, Olivia Slade, Breanna Penfold, Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Ben Fennel and Aaron Hemmings. Photo: Gareth Gardner 230916GGA04

THE National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is here and the transition to the program hasn’t been all smooth-sailing, but calmer waters are ahead local providers say.

Tamworth disability service Northcott was able to get an audience with Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce on Friday, which was an opportunity to show the results and challenges of the NDIS in the region.

The scheme was rolled out in the area on July 1, following years of preparation by carers, clients and service providers.

Like the implementation of any new system, Northcott’s New England area manager said there had been “a few teething problems” but they were “starting to catch up now”.

“Today was about making that connection and letting [Mr Joyce] know about Northcott,” Ms Gett said.

“So far, it’s only starting to roll-out, so it’s about having that connection [to Mr Joyce] if there is any further issues that come up.”

Ms Gett said the NDIS was about giving customers more control over the support they receive.

While touring Northcott’s facilities, the New England MP got an introduction to the service’s colleagues in Moree via a tele-health link-up, technology aimed at negating the challenge of attracting specialists to the bush.

“It can be difficult to attract therapists regionally and in remote areas,” Ms Gett said

“So, something that Northcott is looking at is rolling out tele-health.

“We have facilities in the office and also on our laptops, where we can go into our customers home and link-in with a therapist.”

The Acting PM used the visit to remind the local service provider they have a straight-line into his office and cabinet, to raise any concerns, so, in Mr Joyce’s words “if there are ways we can do it better, we will do it better”.

“They can provide those concerns to my office, and I can follow them up in Canberra,” Mr Joyce said.

“Every cabinet meeting, I sit down with the relevant minister, Christian Porter, and that allows me to have a say in how this rolls out.”

Mr Joyce said the NDIS was going to be of the nation’s biggest expenditures, but it was service that was paramount to being a good government.

“A good government must look after those who are most in need of support,” he said.

“The work these people do is exceptional.

“[If] we do not turn the budget around, we do not get it founded on a sustainable basis, then at some stage in the future we run out of money. 

“Then we run out of money for these people and that is the most perilous thing a government can do.”

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