Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

Government delivering disability reform

The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas today met with representatives from the disability sector at the National Disability Services CEO meeting in Canberra to discuss progress on the Government’s national disability reform agenda.

“This year in particular has been a watershed year for disability policy reform,” Senator McLucas said.

“It was in August this year that our government received and released the Productivity Commission’s much anticipated report into disability care and support.

“We know that the current system of disability services in Australia is not delivering the kind of support Australians with a disability and their carers need, which is why we have acted as quickly as possible.”

The Gillard Government started work immediately to lay the foundations for a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“We are working with the states and territories to lay the foundations for reform by mid-2013 – a year ahead of the timeline set out by the Productivity Commission.

“We have also announced a new agency will be established to lead the Commonwealth’s work to design the launch of a National Disability Insurance Scheme.”

The agency will also oversee new projects that identify practical ways to prepare the disability sector and workforce, and people with disability, to move to new ways of delivering disability services.

The Gillard Government will provide an extra $10 million for practical projects that look at how to support people with disability and their carers and disability service providers, including care workers, make the transition to an NDIS.

Senator McLucas said the National Disability Strategy was another major achievement of the year, emanating from and responding directly to the needs of people with disability.

“People with disability face a constant struggle to obtain what the rest of the community would consider to be ordinary.”

“Our government understands that they do not want special treatment – they just want the barriers removed so they can get on with living in the way that people without disability do every day.

“That is why we are implementing major reforms to disability policy that are reaching far beyond the disability service system, and into mainstream service systems of employment, housing, health, education, transport, communications and infrastructure.

“The launch of the National Disability Strategy in March represents the first time in Australia’s history that all levels of government—national, state and local—have agreed to a unified, national approach to improve the lives of people with disability.

“This strategy is guiding public policy across governments and aims to bring about change in all mainstream services and programs, as well as community infrastructure.”

An $11 million package of community participation initiatives under the National Disability Strategy includes improved cinema access, establishment of Livable Housing Australia to drive universal design in our residential construction industry, a leadership development program for people with disability and and support for local councils to make community facilities more accessible.

Senator McLucas also highlighted that more needs to be done to boost participation of people with disability in the workforce.

“We know that many people with disability want to work and that is why we are taking steps to make it easier for people to get and keep a job.

“Our government has introduced a series of reforms that are overhauling key aspects of the Disability Support Pension to better support people with disability into work where possible and are supporting employers to hire people with disability through new wage subsidy programs.

Senator McLucas thanked the NDS member organisations and the broader disability sector for their hard work and valuable contributions during the year.

“People with disability, their families and carers, as well as service providers, advocacy groups and the broader community, have united to deliver a clear message to government, particularly in support for a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“‘There is a lot more work for us to do together, but we are moving us towards a better future for people with disability in Australia.”