MAYOR'S MESSAGE NDIS will open up new opportunities for area

IN MY role as Acting Mayor I really enjoy meeting with Fraser Coast community groups.

There are so many people and organisations here who are dedicated to improving our community.

Last week I got to meet with staff from Life Choice, a local organisation dedicated to supporting people through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

With the number of Fraser Coast people receiving disability support expected to double to 5100 in coming years, NDIS providers like Life Choice will play a significant role in our community.

When, in a few months' time, the Fraser Coast region transitions from state-based funding to the new NDIS model this will have profound effects on the lives of individuals and their families as well as being a significant boost to our economy.

The NDIS scheme can put funding under direct management of the participant. Families will have a far greater say in how they use their support dollars and what they get for those dollars.

Coupled with the anticipated increase in people on disability support, this change sets the foundation for economic and social development growth on the Fraser Coast.

More people will be accessing the community and engaged in social activities.

It's estimated that 1100 more jobs will be needed to meet the initial demand.

Life Choice alone has employed almost 30 staff in the past six months and will employ another 30 in the next six months.

Funding coming into this NDIS region will be $270 million per year; that's $110 million more than current funding.

My message to people with disabilities and their families is there are great opportunities ahead.

Service Providers such as Life Choice are responding to the more flexible NDIS funding and providing new opportunities.

One example is Fraser Coast Family Networks, which has purchased Wilcox Bikes and developed Wilcox Bikes N Beans to operate as social enterprises for participants to explore their interests in Barista work, general retail and bicycle mechanics in a real world setting.

With countless opportunities possible, exciting times are ahead.

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