Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Transcript, ABC Illawarra mornings

NICK RHEINBERGER: If you’re a person with a disability, or perhaps a carer, no doubt you’re looking forward to the National Disability Insurance Scheme which seems in some cases to be a cross bench kind of idea, where both sides of Parliament broadly support it, but of course it’s got Federal Government money, and State Government implementation, and so there’s a few difficulties there about where the money is spent in each state.

Jenny Macklin is the Minister for Disability Reform, amongst her many portfolios, and she’s going to be at a forum in Dapto today to discuss the National Disability Insurance Scheme, it starts at 12.30 so there’s still some time for you to go along, they say that everyone is welcome, and there is no cost. Jenny Macklin joins us now, on the line. Jenny, good morning.

JENNY MACKLIN: Good morning, Nick.

NICK RHEINBERGER: Can you give us an idea of how the money is spent, say in New South Wales?

JENNY MACKLIN: Sure. We have been working with the New South Wales Government, and have agreed that the first stage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme will be in the Hunter region, so all around Newcastle, and it will cover around 10,000 people in the first instance, so that’s a very big start here in New South Wales, and we’re very pleased to be able to do that.

NICK RHEINBERGER: Ten thousand people probably doesn’t cover the amount of people with disabilities in the Hunter, how do you make the selection of who gets the assistance, and who doesn’t?

JENNY MACKLIN: Yes, that’s a good question, and there will be proper assessments done. The estimates have been worked out by the Productivity Commission, they did a big inquiry for the Federal Government a few years ago, and estimated that there’s around 410,000 people with profound and permanent disabilities across Australia, that’s been worked out in the Hunter area with the New South Wales Government, and of course we’re working with them on the assessment process right now.

We’re going to need to run a parallel system of support for a while, because of course we need to make sure that people who are getting, even though it may be inadequate support now, we don’t want anybody getting less than they’re getting, so there is a lot of detail being worked on exactly at the moment.

NICK RHEINBERGER: Okay, I know that the Federal Government says that you are doing the heavy lifting, what are you expecting state governments to do?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well the Federal Government has put an extra $1 billion on the table, and so some of that money is being used to pay for a contribution towards the cost of the individual packages of care and support. We’ve also expected the state governments that are participating, so in this case New South Wales, to meet around $20,000 of the care package costs, and New South Wales has agreed to that, that’s already in their budget, so we’re pleased that we’ve been able to get an agreement around how the costs are being distributed, and then the Commonwealth’s also paying for all the administration, the set up of the new national disability implementation Agency, we’re drafting legislation at the moment, we’re doing that of course in discussions with the states.

NICK RHEINBERGER: Will it go – will the funding go on an individual basis, or is it group by group? For instance, you might decide to give money to the National Brain Injury Foundation, for instance, so all of their clients get funding, because they’re in that particular category, or do you look at it on an individual basis?

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s a really important question, because the big change that we’re creating with the National Disability Insurance Scheme is that it is about the individual’s needs, and the individual person with a disability will have his or her needs assessed, and then a package of support will be worked out with them, and with their carers, to make sure that they get what they need to live as independent a life as possible.

NICK RHEINBERGER: Okay, does that mean it goes from the most profound…


NICK RHEINBERGER: …on down, if I can use that word?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well, it certainly will look at the most profound, and the level of support they need, but there will be support provided to those who aren’t – who don’t have the same level of disability, but obviously it won’t be as great.

The point that you’re making in your question though, the reason it’s so important is of course of lot of the way that disability has been funded in the past, has been by block grants by State Governments to organisations, and then people with disability have to apply, and get assessed for a whole range of different things, which as you can imagine, drives people up the wall…

NICK RHEINBERGER: Yeah, well where does this leave some of those groups, because many of them are acting like de facto parts of state health systems, whether it’s Greenacres Disability Services, or the National Brain Injury Foundation, or Headway, where does that leave them in the new regime?

JENNY MACKLIN: We’re working very closely with the peak organisation, and then of course with each of the individual organisations, especially in the Hunter region here in New South Wales, so we’ll go through with each of the organisations, who they’re delivering to, what they’re delivering at the moment, we’ve got some money to spend on helping them transition their business, some of them are not for profit organisations, some are private sector bodies, so we’ll help them, we’ll help their workforce get ready to respond more to the individual’s needs than they may have in the past.

NICK RHEINBERGER: And I know also today, you are meeting, and I think probably in just a few minutes, with some pensioners…


NICK RHEINBERGER: …who are worried that their rents are going to increase in public housing. What’s the story there?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well, as you know, we’ve recently provided additional assistance to pensioners and a range of other Australians, to make sure that they have the money, the household assistance, to meet any expected costs of the introduction of the carbon price, and so in the instance of pensioners, if you’re a single pensioner, you would have received around $250 extra as a lump sum, upfront payment, just a couple of months ago.

Unfortunately the New South Wales Government has decided to count that in their assessment of income for when they work out rents that people are going to have to pay in public housing, we’ve asked them not to do that, because this money that we’ve provided to pensioners is for pensioners, it’s not for state governments to fix whatever budgetary problems they might have, we want this money in the hands of pensioners.

NICK RHEINBERGER: Alright, Jenny Macklin, good to talk to you this morning, thank you.


NICK RHEINBERGER: Jenny Macklin, Minister for Disability Reform.