Speech by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Summing up Speech – National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill 2012

Location: Canberra

Speaker, I would like to thank all Members for their contribution to the debate on this Bill.

I think without exception all members have spoken about the need for and the benefits of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

It is rare that a proposed reform strikes such a chord with so many of us across party lines.

The consensus in this House reflects the consensus in the Australian community.

This is a reform that’s time has come. It is a reform this Government is proud to be delivering.

So that Australians with significant or profound disability receive care and support, regardless of how they acquired that disability.

Just like all Australians have access to social security and universal health care systems that provide an entitlement to services based on need.

This Bill establishes the framework for the NDIS and the National Disability Insurance Scheme Launch Transition Agency.

This legislation will enable the NDIS to be launched from July this year.

The launch will benefit around 26,000 people with disability, their families and their carers, living in South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, the Hunter in New South Wales, and the Barwon area of Victoria.

And in New South Wales, where we have reached agreement to roll out the NDIS across the state by July 2018, around 140,000 people will benefit.

Speaker, we look forward to working with other states so that people with disability across the country can also be supported by the full scheme.

Speaker, the NDIS will transform the lives of people with disability, their families and carers. For the first time they will have their needs met in a way that truly supports them to live with choice and dignity.

It will bring an end to the tragedy of services denied or delayed and instead offer people with disability the care and support they need over their lifetimes.

It will end the cruel lottery that besets people today – where the care and support they receive depends on where they live or how they acquired their disability.

I would like to recognise the efforts of the disability and carer community in coming together, with providers, to advocate for this overdue reform.

Because they know, as the Productivity Commission found, that the current disability support system is unfair, underfunded, fragmented and inefficient.

I would like to thank in particular people who have rolled up their sleeves, who have worked so hard and so constructively to input into this Bill, have considered the detail and what it means for people with disability, for families, for carers – and for a scheme we have so much hope for.

The Advisory Group – Dr Jeff Harmer, Dr Rhonda Galbally, Bruce Bonyhady, Joan McKenna-Kerr, Ken Baker, Fran Vicary and Lorna Hallahan.

The organisations who have reached out, worked with their members and with people with disability, their families and carers and with service providers right around the country to gauge their views, test ideas and practices, and fed those views back into the Bill we consider in the Parliament today.

I would like to thank them – and the people who have put up their hands and raised their voices to be heard, not only on principle but in practice.

Speaker, the rights of people with disability, their families and carers are at the heart of the NDIS and at the heart of this Bill.

This Bill will implement a nation-wide, demand-driven system of care tailored to the needs of each individual and established on a durable, long-term basis.

The Bill reflects the extensive work on design, funding and governance we have undertaken with states and territories and with people with disability, their families and carers, with providers and with other key stakeholders – work which is ongoing as we continue to build and refine the scheme.

The NDIS will respond to each individual’s goals and aspirations for their lifetime.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme Launch Transition Agency will be established as an independent statutory body, with an independent Board, by the passage of this Bill through the Parliament.

The Board will be supported by an independent Advisory Council – set out in this legislation – who will bring to the scheme experience of disability and of caring.

The Agency will work with people to plan how they will achieve their goals, taking account of their individual circumstances and needs.

For the first time, people with disability will receive the care and support they need over the course of their lifetime.

The Bill sets out the objects and principles under which the National Disability Insurance Scheme will operate, including giving people choice and control over the care and support they receive, and giving effect in part to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Bill sets out the process for a person becoming a participant in the scheme, how participants develop a personal, goal-based plan with the Agency, and how reasonable and necessary supports will be assured to participants.

People will be able to decide for themselves the type of care and support they receive, and choose how they want to manage these supports.

They will be able to access assistance from local coordinators, who understand their local community.

They will also be able to access early intervention therapies and supports, where these supports will improve a person’s functioning, or slow or prevent the progression of their disability over their lifetime.

The Bill also provides that the Agency will be responsible for the provision of support to people with disability, their families and carers.

What sits behind this Bill as well is the hard work of people in the Australian Public Service, and in state and territory governments.

I want to thank in particular, officers of the NDIS Taskforce – those from my own Department, led by Serena Wilson, and those from PM&C led by Rebecca Cross. I want to thank officers of the Agency, David Bowen and his team.

You have – each of you – put enormous effort into this scheme we are working to build. I know that you have- each of you – put enormous heart and soul into this work as well.

I want to also mention the particular care and attention of the Secretary of PMC, Dr Ian Watt, and of the Secretary of my own Department, Finn Pratt. They too have ensured their wise and watchful eyes over the progress of this important work, and it is stronger and better for it.

I will shortly be moving amendments to the Bill to address decisions made by the Council of Australian Governments and other agreements negotiated with the States and Territories, and from ongoing engagement with people with disabilities, their families, carers and advocates and with service providers.

The amendments also respond to matters raised in submissions to the Senate Community Affairs Committee during its inquiry into the Bill.

This Bill is an enormous step in ensuring people with disability, their families and carers receive peace of mind.

Thank you