Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary Paddy Crumlin has welcomed the $1 billion committed to Australia's first National Disability Insurance Scheme in last night's Federal Budget.
The funding will see an NDIS start in mid-2013 for around 10,000 people with significant and permanent disabilities.
This will then increase to 20,000 people from mid-2014.
Mr Crumlin has for the past four years been a member of the National People With Disabilities and Carer's Council - the peak community advisory body to the Federal Government.
The Council has been integral in garnering crucial support from the community for the NDIS.
Mr Crumlin said the Gillard Government's support for an NDIS, despite its commitment to a budget surplus, was highly commendable.
"For the Gillard Government to commit $1 billion to this vital initiative, in the context of a tough budget, will be judged very, very favourably by history," Mr Crumlin said.
"For anyone who cares about social justice, a National Disability Insurance Scheme is profoundly important.
"Every day a baby is born with a disability. One in five Australians are currently living with a disability.
"People living with disabilities - and their carers - currently suffer from chronic lack of services, and often have lives of social exclusion, poverty and hardship.
"Within the maritime industry we still see the effects of severe injuries all too often.
"Having this scheme in place means that our members and their families will be assured of care throughout their lives, even if they are unable to return to work.
"The introduction of an NDIS by this government will be looked back on by Australians with the same warmness as they look back on the introduction of Medicare.
"Australia is a more just place due to this important reform. On behalf of the Maritime Union of Australia I commend the Gillard Government for having the political fortitude to introduce it."