AS the National Disability Insurance Agency marked a year since the start of the NDIS rollout, Intereach celebrated the official opening of its Bendigo office.
Art was a focal point of the not-for-profit service provider’s festivities on Friday, including an exhibition of works created by northern Victorian artists with disability.
Pieces ranged from paintings and drawings to music and animation.
“Art is an opportunity for people with disability to express themselves, share their stories and share their experiences,” Intereach chief executive officer Sue Mathieson said.
“It is also a great opportunity for the whole community to see the depth of talent in our community and what can be achieved when people with disability are supported and encouraged to explore their creativity.
“We are proud to be able to support local artists with a disability by purchasing and displaying their works.”
Intereach is one of the organisations delivering the National Disability Insurance Scheme in the Loddon region, in partnership with the NDIA.
The region consists of the Greater Bendigo, Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Loddon, Macedon Ranges and Mount Alexander municipalities.
The Intereach Bendigo office has been open since the NDIS went live in the region on May 1.
“It [NDIS] is still very new nationally, but particularly here as people transition into the scheme in the first year,” Ms Mathieson said.
“What’s important to us as an organisation is that we have a place where people feel welcomed and where every question is a good question.”
Nationwide, 90,638 people had an approved NDIS plan at the end of 2016/17.
Almost 44,000 of those people lived in New South Wales, while 15,434 were in Victoria.
The Northern Territory was home to the fewest people with approved plans, with a total of 388 at June 30.
Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, announced the scheme had reached the 100,000 milestone on August 18.
An estimated 460,000 people will have access to the service by 2020.
A Productivity Commission Position Paper in June raised concerns about the speed of the NDIS rollout, which it said had put the scheme’s success and financial sustainability at risk.
“For the scheme to achieve its objectives, the NDIA must find a better balance between participant intake, the quality of plans, patient outcomes, and financial sustainability.
“Steps are now being taken by the NDIA to better balance these aspects.”
Acting NDIA chief executive officer Grant Tidswell said participants were optimistic about the future of the NDIS.
“Participants are telling us they believe their NDIS plan will make their life better,” he said.
More service providers are getting on board, with registrations rising 28 per cent in the April – June quarter to a total of 8698, nationwide.
Intereach has four offices and aims to establish another, in Castlemaine.
“It feels like we’ve really got off to a fantastic start,” Ms Mathieson said.
About 100 people attended Friday’s official opening, which included a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony.