Transcript of interview, ABC Hobart with Leon Compton
Subject: DisabilityCare Australia; gender issues
LEON COMPTON: Jenny Macklin is the Minister for Disability Reform. Jenny Macklin, good morning.
JENNY MACKLIN: Good morning, Leon.
LEON COMPTON: And thank you for talking with us this morning. Do you accept that some two and a half weeks before this scheme begins, service providers still don’t know what’s going on?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well, I’m informed, Leon, there’s been around a dozen service provider information sessions that have been held in Tasmania since February this year. So there’s certainly been a lot of information provided, but I do accept that this is a major change and of course that’s why we are doing this very carefully. If you think about the number of people who will be involved in the first stage in Tasmania, we’re talking about around 1000 people. When the scheme’s up to the full scheme by 2019 there will be around 11,000 people in Tasmania covered. So you can see we are taking this very carefully because it is such a major change.
LEON COMPTON: So people, you say that you’ve had a lot of meetings but indeed she says, Catherine Viney says, that the software to work out what’s actually going on hasn’t been loaded onto the website. Do you accept that?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well, once again, DisabilityCare Australia have informed me that the IT system is now live. It will be ready on 1 July to make sure that providers who are registered will be able to use the IT system. So of course these are all very important issues. You’re right to be asking questions about it, but I can assure you that the information I have is that the IT system will be ready to register providers in advance of the launch. Providers of course need to be able to be paid. All of these matters have been through very, very careful consideration.
LEON COMPTON: You say ready in advance of the launch. The launch is in two and a half weeks.
JENNY MACKLIN: That’s right.
LEON COMPTON: Don’t they need to know what’s going on now?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well, that’s why there’s been so many provider information sessions, and I understand there will be more in the next fortnight, and of course there is information available to providers. There’s a line…
LEON COMPTON: …with respect, Minister, this is not about information sessions, this is about engaging with the nuts and bolts of a scheme, and the nuts and bolts don’t look like they’re in place at the moment. Is that fair to say?
JENNY MACKLIN: No, I don’t think that’s fair to say, and I think it’s very important that we make sure that the factual information in available. That’s why these information sessions are being held. It’s why providers are being spoken to individually. It’s why we’re being very careful about the roll out that, in the first stage in Tasmania, will apply to around 1000 young people rather than going right across the whole disability sector. So I think we do have to be very careful. It is a major reform.
LEON COMPTON: Is it clear yet to people who might potentially be eligible between 15 and 24 in Tasmania, who precisely will qualify for the NDIS trial?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well, in the first instance what we want to do is make sure that people who currently have supports from disability services in Tasmania continue to get those supports. I want to make sure everyone listening today knows that that will continue, that their providers will of course be able to be paid for by DisabilityCare Australia from 1 July, and their services will continue.
Of course, from 1 July, these young people will be making appointments to come in and talk with DisabilityCare Australia staff who have all been employed, who are in various offices in Tasmania. They’ll be able to come in and start working out what are the extra supports that people need. It might be home modifications. It might be additional equipment they need. It might be additional personal care or transport, all of the different services that people may need, of course, on top of what they already get. Those discussions will be able to start from 1 July.
LEON COMPTON: Start from 1 July, but two and half weeks out we hear that young people and indeed their carers still don’t know what services they can and can’t buy. That’s pretty tough if you’re one of the people providing those services, isn’t it?
JENNY MACKLIN: No. Once again, I want to reassure people that the services they’re currently getting will continue to be paid for. And secondly, people will be able to come in to DisabilityCare Australia and talk about their needs, talk about what they need at home, talk about the additional personal care they may need, talk about the additional respite carers might need and how that might best suit their family.
We want to be able to give people the opportunity to really say what it is that they need. And of course there has to be a start date and that is 1 July.
LEON COMPTON: Are other trials also running behind time in terms of the provision of this information?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well, I don’t agree with the way you’re putting that. The information has been out in the community. There is a website that’s already live. There’s a phone number I can give you.
LEON COMPTON: Minister, you talk about the information being out in the community, but this is the hard planning information that parents and that organisations need to engage with that scheme. You’re suggesting that somewhere between Friday and this morning that has only just gone up.
JENNY MACKLIN: No, I’m not saying that at all. I’m making clear that there’s been information that’s gone out to providers since February, so I don’t think that’s correct, Leon. I can give you a phone line that people can ring. We’ve got staff of course already on the end of the phone. There are people of course responding to information requests that people are getting from the website. The website is live. We know that there’s important information that parents will want, that individual young people will want, to work out their plans. Those planning seminars really can only start when the scheme itself starts on 1 July.
LEON COMPTON: So you’re still confident that that will be the date in which the trial kicks off in Tasmania and around the country?
JENNY MACKLIN: Yes, I am.
LEON COMPTON: On other matters, Minster, while we’ve got you there, lots of prominent feminists are highly critical of Julia Gillard raising the gender issue again yesterday, some saying, we should be debating policy, for example. Do you think that it’s been helpful, the Prime Minister’s intervention and raising the issue of gender in an election campaign like this?
JENNY MACKLIN: First of all, you and I have just been debating one of the biggest policy changes that this country is putting in place, and that’s the introduction of DisabilityCare Australia, and the Prime Minister of course spends every single day talking about the need to reform funding for our schools so that our children get a good education.
On the gender issue, I do think it’s important to talk about these issues. There are very important policy matters that Australian women are very, very interested in. People do want to know what their leaders think about major policy issues like the availability of safe abortions in this country, like the availability of affordable childcare, like the availability of affordable paid parental leave. These are all very important policy issues and the Prime Minister of course is leading that debate.
LEON COMPTON: The Prime Minister warned yesterday that men in blue ties would erode women’s rights in Australia. What did she mean by that?
JENNY MACKLIN: I think you know what she means by that. Tony Abbott’s been trying to have this big makeover to present a different type of person to the Australian people. I don’t think the Australian people are going to be fooled by the way in which he’s tried to make out this change, but the Prime Minister’s just drawing attention to that fact.
LEON COMPTON: Good to talk to you this morning.
JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you.