ABC 891 Adelaide Drive with Michael Smyth
MICHAEL SMYTH: The latest on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, now known as DisabilityCare Australia. It’s one of those rare things in politics that has had support from all sides. As you’d remember South Australia was one of the first states to agree to be involved in the scheme which officially kicks in from July, helping provide support to children under five, but as you’ve heard in the news, Jay Weatherill has now agreed to its full implementation from 2018. Initially it’ll be extended to young teenagers then eventually everyone with a disability by the middle of 2018. Just before coming to air, I was able to catch up with the Federal Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin. And I began by asking her about the significance of today’s announcement.
JENNY MACKLIN: This is great news for people with disability in South Australia, and of course also or their families and carers. This will see the full roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Disability Care Australia, by July 2018 in South Australia.
MICHAEL SMYTH: How many people are likely to benefit as a result of this?
JENNY MACKLIN: Around 33,000 South Australian residents who have a significant disability. But of course there’ll also be family members and carers who will also benefit.
MICHAEL SMYTH: In terms of the practical sort of things that might be available to them, what sort of services and support will they be able to access through DisabilityCare Australia?
JENNY MACKLIN: That’s a really, really important question because we all know that at the moment the worse thing about care for people with disabilities is how long you have to wait for everything. So whether it’s waiting for a wheelchair, waiting for a place in respite, these are all the things that will be changed with DisabilityCare Australia. We want to make sure that people are able to have the choices they want over the care and support that they receive. So that’s a very important change. But also that they won’t have to wait for long for a wheelchair, that they won’t have to wait for respite, that they won’t have to wait to get into a community program. These are the very practical changes that will come about.
MICHAEL SMYTH: How are you divvying up the cost of all of this between the Federal Government and the State Government?
JENNY MACKLIN: The Federal Government is just, is paying just over half of the cost of DisabilityCare Australia. So we’ve reached agreement with the South Australian Government today which is great news, but of course we’ve also reached agreement with the New South Wales Government and the agreements are on the same terms. I’ve made offers to all the states, to encourage them to also sign up to the full roll out of DisabilityCare Australia.
MICHAEL SMYTH: This is a significant increase on the amount of funding committed to by both governments when the initial scheme was agreed to looking after people up to the age of fourteen.
JENNY MACKLIN: It is.
MICHAEL SMYTH: It’s an expensive service to provide isn’t it?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well it’s absolutely necessary when you think of the unfunded fragmented services that people have at the moment. People do not get the care and support that they need. We want to change that. The South Australian Government wants to change that. Of course we’re very pleased that we’re going to start the new scheme in South Australia from the 1st July. It will start with little children, so from nought to five, and then we’ll extend the age limit up to 13 and 14 years. But today’s announcement will see it roll out to all South Australians with a significant disability by the middle of 2018.
MICHAEL SMYTH: In an ideal world with a bottomless pit of money, would you like all of this to come online this July rather than waiting to 2018, or are there some practical implications in all of this as well as the budgetary considerations?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well that too is a very important point, because we just don’t have the staff to roll this out immediately. We’re looking at doubling the level of care and support and of course that means doubling the number of staff. More disability workers, but also more specialist workers, like physiotherapists, speech therapists, those sort of people. And of course it takes time to train those people. It will take us until the middle of 2018-19 before we see the scheme roll out right across Australia.
MICHAEL SMYTH: You’re listening to Drive on 891 ABC Adelaide, my guest this afternoon is the Federal Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin. We’re talking about this agreement done today between the Gillard and Weatherill Goverments to roll out in full Disability Care Australia from the middle of 2018 to all Australians, or South Australians rather who have disability, some sort of need for support.
Minister, I see that beyond the age of sixty-five the Government in Canberra fully carries the can for this sort of care. Why is that?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well there’s two reasons, one is we want to make sure that people who are in DisabilityCare Australia before they turn 65 can stay in the scheme. There’ll be many people who may come into the DisabilityCare Australia arrangements maybe from the time they’re born, or it may be as a result of a serious illness that they get their disability sometime during their adult life, so we want to give people that opportunity. The Commonwealth already has responsibility for aged care and of course we recognise how important it is to provide both care in the aged care system and through DisabilityCare Australia. So the Commonwealth will make sure we provide that support.
MICHAEL SMYTH: How many other states have signed up to this extent at this stage?
JENNY MACKLIN: So far we have agreement from New South Wales to the full roll out of DisabilityCare Australia. We’re waiting to get full agreement with the other states and territories but we will start the launch of the scheme in Victoria from July. So in the Geelong region for around 5,000 people. Of course in South Australia for children from July, and in Tasmania we’ll start for adolescents and that will start from July as well.
MICHAEL SMYTH: Is there an expectation at all that as more states sign up that the cost of providing these services could come down? There may be some sort of economies of scale in all of this?
JENNY MACKLIN: Ah no, we’ve worked out the cost for right across the country, so where there’s been a lot of work on how much the scheme will cost and how much it will cost by the time it’s fully rolled out in 2018-19, so that’s been worked out on a whole-of-Australia cost.
MICHAEL SMYTH: And just finally Minister, if people are keen to find out more information is there a website or a hotline that they can access?
JENNY MACKLIN: Yes there is a website, and we’d really encourage people to get online and give us their views. If they go to ndis.gov.au.
MICHAEL SMYTH: Jenny Macklin, thanks so much for your time on Drive.
JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you.