Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

National Disability Insurance Scheme

Program: 5AA Mornings

Program: ABC Radio, Tasmania

Program: ABC Canberra Mornings

Program: 2SM Sydney Mornings

Program: ABC Newsradio

Program: 2GB Drive

E & OE – Proof only

LEON BYNER: Jenny, first of all, the one thing that surprised me was when one of our MLCs in the upper house who is disabled herself, who also represents disability people, has made the point that the criteria for who’s eligible or who’s not for this scheme hasn’t been worked out or, if it has, it hasn’t been announced.

So could you tell me the answer to that now?

JENNY MACKLIN: Sure. Good morning Leon. And it is, I think, a very important question; who will be eligible?

The scheme is being designed to be eligible for people with profound and significant disabilities and the definition of that is still being discussed with people with disability, with their representatives.

LEON BYNER: Haven’t we defined that?

JENNY MACKLIN: There’s been a lot of work done on it by the Productivity Commission, by the Commonwealth actuary working with state governments but we want to involve people with disability and their representatives and we’ll be starting the scheme in South Australia in July next year so all the detailed work of course needs to be done between now and then.

LEON BYNER: So nobody can get anything until July of next year?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well of course people are getting help and support now from the South Australian Government and the Commonwealth makes a contribution to that but it is going to take us from now until the middle of next year and that’s always been understood.

LEON BYNER: Can I ask you this- I would’ve thought it would’ve been a much smarter thing and it’s a good… conceptually I think this is a very good idea, but I reckon you guys have made an error in announcing this now and having people wait for nearly 12 months before they can do anything.

I would’ve thought that the smarter thing to do would have been – you’ve just said, “well we have to define what precisely ‘profoundly disabled’ is” – surely, before you announce the scheme, that should’ve already been put to bed.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we’ve got to do things really in parallel, Leon. So we needed to get agreement with particular states and territories about where to start. We knew that we couldn’t deliver a whole scheme immediately- we just don’t have the workforce for that.

In total we think we’re going to need to double the size of the Disability, Care and Support scheme and the Productivity Commission things that’ll take between six and seven years. It’s a big job.

LEON BYNER: For this scheme, for us, how much of the Feds put in and how much has the state of South Australia put in for this?

JENNY MACKLIN: So South Australia’s putting around 20 million dollars on the table and the Commonwealth’s providing an extra 33 million dollars to South Australia.

LEON BYNER: Okay, so about 53 million dollars will be there as of July. So from that time will you be able to ring a number and say, ‘I’m a profoundly disabled person’ – or their carer will contact you – ‘I need this,’ and then they get it?

JENNY MACKLIN: First of all of course the person will be assessed and their needs will be looked at and they’ll sit down together and work out what it is that the individual wants and needs; what their carers need.

LEON BYNER: How many people do you think… with 53 million dollars, how far can that go and is that over 12 months or is that over a longer period?

JENNY MACKLIN: No, that’s over three years.

LEON BYNER: Okay, so it’s really a rationed amount of money, so would you not be somewhat limited in the number of people you can actually help because of the funding?

JENNY MACKLIN: In South Australia, what we’ve agreed is that we’re going to start with children and the South Australian Government have proposed and we’ve agreed that we’ll start with little children.

I think we all know that the earlier you intervene, the earlier you make sure you’ve got those extra physio supports or speech therapy, the better it is for the child. So we want to start with little children so a child, for example who is born with a significant disability, will get assessed, will get help with their parents immediately, figure out what the plan needs to be so that child gets that early intervention as quickly as possible.

LEON BYNER: Alright, Pat’s got a question. Pat, you’re talking with Jenny Macklin.

CALLER: Good morning guys. Jenny, I’ve got a question for you guys, I’ve heard that this scheme is worth over, what, one billion dollars over four years? Is that correct?

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s from the Commonwealth. That’s how much the Commonwealth’s putting in, yes.

CALLER: I’m starting to hear stories that over two thirds of that money is going to go to administration and only that one third directly to the people who need it. Is that true?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well what we’re doing, Pat, is of course establishing a whole new scheme so there will be savings for the states once we establish the national scheme, but in the first instance of course we need to have a system that funds people, pays people. All of that has to be done and the Commonwealth will pay for it.

LEON BYNER: So what proportion of that money, the billion dollars that Pat’s just talked about, will go to admin?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I don’t think it’s right to call it ‘admin’ because I think in saying that you’re trying to belittle the job that needs to be done.

LEON BYNER: No, no, no now hang on, Jenny please do not put words in my mouth. Administration is required on a range of things. I think the caller’s point was- you don’t want to have a top-heavy situation.

You want to be sure that when you allocate money for a group of people who have been marginalised, you want most of that money if possible – like you expect from charities – to get where it does the most good. There’s nothing pejorative about that question.

JENNY MACKLIN: Good. The important thing is to make sure we set up the scheme and some of the money will be spent on that.

But, Pat, a lot of the money will also go to helping build up the workforce, making sure that those non-government agencies that are doing such a great job at the moment get ready for a National Disability Insurance Scheme because the way they get funded will change. So there’s a whole range of different ways in which the money will be spent.

LEON BYNER: There’s two states and a territory doing this and others aren’t. Does that mean that we’re going to have a lessor scheme that might otherwise have been able?

JENNY MACKLIN: I certainly hope not. We still are hopeful that New South Wales and Victoria will do the same as South Australia has done and put their fair share of the costs on the table.

We are prepared at the Commonwealth level to put 300 million dollars into a launch site in the Hunter area around Newcastle in New South Wales. New South Wales needs to put 70 million dollars in. It’s the same proportion that South Australia’s put on the table and I think it’s a very positive contribution for New South Wales.

LEON BYNER: For those people in South Australia, as of July, who will have access to this scheme, is it going to be a certain amount per person? Or might you spend quite a lot of money on someone and not as much on another?

JENNY MACKLIN: Yes of course it’s going to be related to their needs. So the average expected cost is around 35,000 dollars a person, so that goes back to your original question about eligibility. That demonstrates that we’re talking about people with significant and profound disabilities, but for some people the contribution may be higher. People may get more than that if they have greater needs. Other people might get a little bit less.

LEON BYNER: Alright, Fay of Windsor Gardens has a question. Fay, what is it?

CALLER: Yes, this is for the both of you. People who are 65 and over, which I’m not there yet by a few years, but for those that are, they get cut off after they turn 65. Don’t you think that is discriminatory?

JENNY MACKLIN: We haven’t decided whether to proceed with that recommendation from the Productivity Commission yet. You’re right, that’s what they recommended but it is an area of big debate and I can hear you don’t think it’s fair.

LEON BYNER: Do you think it’s fair?

JENNY MACKLIN: We’re talking with the disability and seniors’ communities about it, Leon, so I want that debate to be had. But in South Australia we’re starting with little children, so we’ll start there and move through.

LEON BYNER: Alright Jenny. Thanks for joining us.