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As the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) marks its 10-year anniversary, participants reflect on the transformative impact the scheme has had on their lives.

Among them is Zane, a Geelong resident who has witnessed first-hand the changes brought about by the NDIS.

Before the Scheme, individuals with disabilities faced numerous obstacles in accessing the support they needed.

"Prior to the NDIS, it was definitely harder to get the support that you need, when you needed it."

Assistive technology, such as wheelchairs, were often funded through state government channels, leading to lengthy delays and outdated equipment. Under the previous system, Zane qualified for a motorised wheelchair once every seven and a half years, despite his changing needs.

The NDIS, on the other hand, enabled him to acquire new equipment promptly, emphasizing the importance of providing support tailored to individual requirements.

Kate MacRae, Scope CEO, said she was proud of the way the organisation has adapted to the changing landscape to best support clients.

“I am immensely proud of the support we have provided to our clients in navigating the NDIS since its inception,” Kate said.

“This milestone is a testament to the tireless efforts of the disability community, advocates, families and the dedicated employees who help make these dreams a reality.”

A decade of reflections

Zane vividly recalled the early days of the NDIS trial in the Geelong region, describing it as uncharted territory for both participants and the agency.

The trial phase brought about a steep learning curve for participants, especially those from diverse backgrounds and those who did not have experience advocating for themselves in the disability space.

When asked about the impact of the NDIS on his daily life, Zane spoke passionately about the individualized support and increased flexibility he gained.

“Through my NDIS support, I have been able to gain full-time employment and a senior role within Scope, however this would not be possible without a support worker to assist me with personal care and support throughout the day, including when travelling to and from work,” Zane said.

“So this has really been a game changer for me. The flow on effect is that myself and my family are in a much stronger financial position than we were prior to this report being in place, meaning that the NDIS is largely achieving its goal of enabling me, and I think a lot of other people with disability to live what is much closer to an ordinary life.”

Reflecting on changes since the trial, Zane acknowledged the mixed progress of the scheme.

While many have come to recognise the significance of the NDIS in the lives of people with disabilities, Zane highlighted the increased scrutiny on costs and the focus on long-term sustainability. He emphasised the need for ongoing revision to ensure the scheme fulfils its original vision.

Kate agrees that along with all the successes of the NDIS, its continuous improvement remains pertinent.

“The NDIS will continue to evolve and I look forward to seeing the transformative impact it will have on the people we support.”

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