OVER 650 Limestone Coast residents have reaped life-altering changes since the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was introduced one year ago.
The scheme will have serviced the region for 12 months, helping 653 people across the Local Government areas of Mount Gambier, Grant, Wattle Range, Kingston, Naracoorte, Lucindale, Robe and Tatiara.
National Disability Insurance Agency engagement and inclusion branch manager Matthew Wright said the first anniversary of the NDIS in the Limestone Coast was an important milestone in the roll out of one of the largest social reforms in Australia’s history.
“The NDIS is already empowering 653 people in the Limestone Coast region – with more than 18,500 people receiving support across South Australia, including more than 9400 people receiving supports for the first time,” he said.
One such beneficiary is Millicent man Trevor Palmer, who said a simple technology upgrade obtained through the scheme had given him a new lease on life.
The Smart Drive, a manual wheelchair accessory, is now powering Mr Palmer up hills and across tricky surfaces – something which he had struggled with for many years.
Mr Palmer broke his neck 14 years ago and became a quadriplegic and today requires the use of a manual wheelchair to maintain his fitness.
After joining the NDIS when it rolled out on the Limestone Coast, Mr Palmer was given funding for the Smart Drive and said it had been life-changing.
“It’s changed my life incredibly, I’m happy to go out on my own, I can go wherever I want,” Mr Palmer said.
On a recent trip to Melbourne, he was able to support his wife Kristy, who was unwell, by making a trip to the chemist on his own – something he could never have done in the past.
“Kristy got sick and needed some medication from the chemist and I was able to just go down on my own and get it for her and bring it back.
“I was not useless, she is always helping me and I could actually return the favour for her.
“I went to the steepest hill in Melbourne, just to see how it would work and it pushed me up there with no troubles at all.”
Mr Palmer works for a local building company, managing houses and commercial buildings and the general running of the business.
The NDIS also provides Mr Palmer with in-home support, which allows Kristy to continue working, as well as funding for an adjustable bed.
Between those supports and the Smart Drive, Mr Palmer said the NDIS was making a huge difference in day to day life.
“It makes things so much easier, these are things that are going to last me for the next 20 years, you have got no idea how much it has changed my life.”
Mr Palmer said the Millicent community has been nothing but supportive and encouraged others who may be hesitant to ask for help to do so.
“My community is unbelievable, they just help me,” he said.
“Being a small country town, I used to help everyone out and now no one’s got a problem helping me.
“Ask for help if you need it, it might take some time to get the things you need, but once you have them you are set for life.”
Mr Wright said the scheme was expected to support more than 32,000 people in South Australia.
“According to the latest NDIS quarterly report, the scheme is making a real difference to children living with disability in South Australia with 93pc of families and carers of participants aged up to pre-school age stating the NDIS has improved their child’s development,” Mr Wright said.
“The South Australian economy continues to benefit from the roll out of the NDIS with $1b committed to participant supports to date and the workforce expected to grow by up to 5650 workers.”