Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

National Disability Insurance Scheme launch in the Barwon region – joint press conference with Premier Ted Baillieu and Minister Mary Wooldridge – Doorstop

Joint Press Conference with Ted Baillieu and Minister Mary Wooldridge

E & OE – Proof only

JENNY MACKLIN: Thanks very much everyone for joining us this morning. I’m very pleased to be here at this press conference with the Premier of Victoria, Ted Baillieu, and the Victorian Minister for Community Service, Mary Wooldridge. We are very pleased to be able to join together today to announce that there will be a launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in the Barwon region, down in Geelong, from 1 July next year.

Now this is great news for the 5000 people with a disability and of course their families and carers in the Barwon region, and I do thank the Victorian government very much for their willingness to be part of this very, very exciting development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

It does mean that from 1 July next year people with disability in the Barwon region will have their individual needs accessed, they will be able to have much greater choice over the standard and quality of care that they can get and, of course, they’ll be at the start of the development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

It’s now one year since the government released the Productivity Commission report into long-term care and support for people with disability, and it is very exciting at this one year anniversary that we now have a launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in the Barwon region here in Victoria, in the Hunter in New South Wales, and also in South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

We have an enormous amount of work to do between us over the next eight to nine months. We have to make sure that we are ready to deliver for the people in the Barwon region who are really looking forward to being part of the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We have to make sure that the staff are ready, that the non-government agencies are ready, that we have the common assessment tools, that we have the quality assurance arrangements.

We’ve already been working with the Victorian government on the development of these critical parts of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Now we’ll work together to make sure we’re ready to deliver for the people with disability in Geelong, and I once again thank the Premier and the minister very much for this very exciting development.

And I’ll pass over to the Premier.

TED BAILLIEU: Thanks very much Jenny and I’m pleased to be here with Jenny Macklin and with Minister Mary Wooldridge, and this is a significant day for Victorians in the Barwon region; it’s a significant day for people with a disability right across Victoria.

We have supported the principle of a national disability insurance scheme since the time we were in Opposition, and indeed we proposed in Opposition a trial of such a scheme in Victoria, and the Barwon region we believe is an appropriate place for that to occur.

So I’m particularly pleased that we have reached an agreement to hold a trial in the Barwon region and I’m even more pleased that that trial will commence in 2013. From 1 July 2013 with the commonwealth government, the Victorian government will be working to provide assistance for up to 5000 people in the Barwon region as a trial of a national disability insurance scheme. That’s a real step forward.

From our point of view, this is about assisting people with disabilities who need assistance and ensuring that over the longer term we put in place an NDIS which works for everybody. That’s what we have been focused on and focused on from the start. We’ll be investing over $300 million into that trial over that period. That’s a significant amount and I do say, of course, we believe that the transition agency is a perfect fit for Geelong and should be established in Geelong. We have put $25 million on the table for that and that stands and we’ll have further discussions with the commonwealth about that. But for the time being, I’m very pleased that we’ve come to an agreement on a trial in the Barwon region that will be of assistance to people and it will help in developing the NDIS.

And I ask Mary Wooldridge to make a few remarks and then I’m sure we’ll have some questions.

MARY WOOLDRIDGE: Thanks very much Premier, and it’s wonderful to join with Minister Macklin and the Premier today in welcoming the agreement of a trial in the Barwon region for the launch of the NDIS.

I just wanted to spend a moment to say for the people with a disability, their families and carers in the Barwon region, this is going to make a significant difference. There’s going to be a significant expansion of services. They’re going to have access to a wider range of choice in relation to the support and care that they get and they’re able to receive. They’re going to be able to make those choices about what services they access.

These services will be significantly expanded and we expect that they will be able to access them earlier than they would have been able to otherwise. We also expect significant inclusion from the broader community in terms of the services that they access.

So Victoria has had a history of individualised support for about 16 years and we think this will be a significant expansion of the services and support people can access. But I also want to say that that is why it’s important that Victoria was part of the launch sites in relation to the NDIS on a national level. We are no doubt much further down the track than many other states in relation to our disability service provision, and what this will mean is that the evaluation and the assessment of the trial will actually be enhanced by Victoria’s inclusion and our overall objective to have a genuine full NDIS for the country for people with a disability, their families and carers down the track.

So I’m very pleased from the perspective of families and individuals in the Barwon region, but I think that Victoria will also make a strong contribution to our learning, to the achievement of the overall scheme.

JOURNALIST: Can you just explain, I guess, how the trial will be rolled out and what the model will eventually be of the centre in Geelong?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well as I indicated, the trial, or the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, will start in Geelong and in the broader Barwon region from 1 July next year. It will also be starting in other parts of the country, so we’ll see that begin in other jurisdictions.

But what it will mean for people with disability is that first and foremost they will have their full needs assessed. There’ll be a proper plan done of the individual’s needs: whether it is that they need more equipment; whether it is they need their house modified or whether they need other accommodation choices; whether they need different caring arrangement; whether their carers need access to better respite; and as we’ve indicated today one of the important things is of course many of the gaps in services will be addressed.

Both the commonwealth and the state are putting in additional resources and that is to make sure that people get better services but also get greater choice, greater say, over what they actually receive.

JOURNALIST: Why would you – why won’t you commit to the [indistinct] in Geelong given that Victoria’s the only state that has money on the table [indistinct]?

JENNY MACKLIN: We’ve got an enormous amount of work to do between now and July next year, so our focus right now and the agency’s focus is on getting it right for people with disability.

In response to the early question I’ve indicated really what we have to do between now and July next year. We have to get all the staff in the agencies that are going to deliver the care and support ready to deliver the extra care. They have to be ready to deliver it through a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

We also of course need to make sure the non-government organisations are ready, that people get their assessments done. Everybody’s going to need to have their actual assessments ready to be done from 1 July next year. We’ve been working with the state on a common assessment tool and on quality assurance arrangements. So we have an enormous amount to do.

Our focus right now is on people with disability. As the Premier indicated, we will continue to work with Victoria on the location of the agency. We do acknowledge what they’ve put on the table but our focus right now is on getting ready for the launch of the disability insurance scheme next July.

JOURALIST: Premier would you like to discuss a [indistinct] agency?

TED BAILLIEU: Well I do share the Minister’s remarks or her views in the sense of what happens now. There’s a lot to do. I spent some time with Ms Wooldridge on Friday with a number of the disability agencies in Geelong in the Barwon region. There are a lot of them. And so we recognise that this is not the end. It’s not even the end of the beginning. There’s quite a way to go, but we believe an agency in Geelong is a natural fit. It will work. There’s a history, with the TAC being based in Geelong, of social insurance schemes. The staff are there and I think frankly the many agencies would be ready to work with a central transition agency in Geelong.

One of the issues that comes up frequently and certainly it’s a case in the Barwon region is the degree to which the agencies are integrated in terms of the way they have systems in place, and probably the Barwon region is probably better placed than any with that in mind.

But if I could just reflect for a moment on the trials that have been approved: a trial in South Australia, one in Tasmania, the ACT, New South Wales and Victoria; the five have been approved. There are cohort trials in South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT and regional trials in New South Wales and Victoria, and we think that the regional trials will actually offer a very substantial amount to the testing of all the systems.

The cohort trials will have their own issues but certainly the regional trials are what was recommended by the Select Council and I think has been accepted as being the most effective.

So we see the transition agency simply being a very good fit in Geelong and we’ll continue to advance the case for it, and I think you’ll find that many of the agencies would see the value in that placement as well.

JOURNALIST: How different is what you’ve agreed to do today to what was on [indistinct]?

TED BAILLIEU: Well I don’t think you want to go through all the steps we’ve been through. I think we’ll focus on today and what we’ve achieved. Suffice to say there with – we have answered a lot of questions over the last two weeks, and I’ll just put it that way – perhaps some more questions than were answered by other jurisdictions. Suffice to say we have a trial, we have a commitment, we’ve been very keen to achieve that and I’ll leave it at that for the time being – suffice to say there will be the trial in the Barwon region.

It will, by way of the correspondence that we have to-ed and fro-ed, not set precedents for funding or governance. In turn we have accepted the trial governance arrangements as has occurred in New South Wales, and we would say that the regional trial will take place in Barwon is very similar, in fact almost precisely similar as to the regional trial that’s been agreed in New South Wales.

JOURNALIST : Just on Victoria’s contribution, is it right to say that 300, 290 that was identified last week [indistinct] what’s the 17?

TED BAILLIEU: That’s generally correct. What occurred a couple of weeks ago when the agreement was reached with New South Wales that there were clarifications from the Commonwealth about what would be included in expenditure, having applied those clarifications to Victoria – Victorian expenditure in the region, we identified as we mentioned the other day additional expenditure which would be taking place. So we now have a commitment over $300 million into the Barwon region. And I know that certainly those clarifications have helped secure an agreement on the trial. So we’re pleased about that.

I think I’ll spare you all the bits and pieces and the details of the process.

JOURNALIST: Being obsessed with detail like I am, is that – is the commonwealth – sorry…

TED BAILLIEU: Can we hold that against you in the future Tom?

JOURNALIST: Is the Victorian top-up $17 million and is that correct? [Indistinct].

TED BAILLIEU: Well what I will say is the spend is over $300 million and we made announcements along the way that in substance those haven’t changed, but we’ve had clarification from the commonwealth about expenditure criteria. We’ve had clarification from the Prime Minister about the notion of precedents not being set and we’ve also given clarification about expenditures from Victoria’s point of view.

JOURNALIST: [Indistinct]?

TED BAILLIEU: Well that’s – these are all the challenges which lie ahead because this is an expansion of the number of people with disability who will be serviced in that region and the expectation is that will be around 5000, and it’s also an expansion of the services those 5000 will receive. Now that brings with it all sorts of questions and details to be worked through and the Minister has mentioned some already in terms of common assessment tools and eligibility criteria: obviously the agencies working together, the degree to which they’re integrated in their systems and the degree to which they can integrate into any system that the Commonwealth puts in place and the legislative arrangements for this will come through the Commonwealth.