Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

National Disability Insurance Scheme – Drive ABC Newcastle, interview with Paul Bevan

Program: Drive ABC Newcastle

E & OE – Proof only

PAUL BEVAN: Jenny Macklin is the Minister for Disability Reform, and Minister thank you for joining us this afternoon.

JENNY MACKLIN: My pleasure.

PAUL BEVAN: Firstly, let’s look at the good news. If the Hunter were to be selected what would it mean for us?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well maybe if I just explain the nature of the decision. So in the Budget we’ve allocated $1 billion, so it’s a very substantial contribution from the Federal Government to start rolling out the first stage of a National Disability Insurance Scheme. And we don’t talk about this as a trial. We are saying that we are starting the National Disability Insurance Scheme and we do want to start in the first instance in around four areas as you described.

PAUL BEVAN: Sorry to interrupt you there but I can see the difference in wording as far as the trial is concerned, it implies that if it doesn’t work you’ll abandon it?

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s right.

PAUL BEVAN: Whereas this as you’re saying is a launch scheme. But why do you need to launch in a small number of regions. Why not just launch, you know, fully?

JENNY MACKLIN: Yes, that is a really good question. We really don’t have the workforce capacity, the capacity of service providers all around the country to expand to meet the demand that we expect will come from a fully fledged National Disability Insurance Scheme.

PAUL BEVAN: So it’s a gradual roll out?

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s right. The Productivity Commission estimated that it will take around six years for the scheme to be fully fledged if you like, because of the very significant increase in supply of services that’s required. Going back to your opening question, what would it mean? We’re of course going to have to talk with the states and territories. They run disability services right now and we’re going to need to work in very closely with them. They understand that this is an area of shared responsibility between the Commonwealth and the states. You’re right there’s a bit of argy bargy at the moment going on but I hope that once the state governments get over that, they recognise that this is a serious and generous starting position from the Commonwealth.

PAUL BEVAN: Just before we get into the argy bargy as you say, let’s make it clearer in people’s minds what it would mean if it happens. What would it mean? Let’s say the announcement is made the Hunter is one of the sites, the launch sites, so what does that mean?

JENNY MACKLIN: So what it would mean is that people in the area that was chosen would be assessed. They’d have their needs properly assessed. For the first time there would be the capacity to actually meet their needs and we would be providing services to people with significant and permanent disabilities. So instead of having to get in many different queues for a new wheelchair, or respite care, or supported accommodation, whatever the service that you need that would meet your life circumstances. The whole point of the Disability Insurance Scheme is to look at your needs across your life time and then to work it out from the point of view of the individual’s preferences.

PAUL BEVAN: From what I can understand, and tell me if I’m on the right track here? But you would, there’d be an assessment process first, so people would volunteer to say, I want to be assessed, I need to be assessed. They would be assessed by somebody, we’ll come back to who that somebody is, and that somebody would say, this is the amount of money you’re going to get on a forever basis for the rest of your life. And you would have that money to be able to say okay, with that money I need to get the wheelchair, I need physical stuff in my house, I need staff who will come to, or help for respite care, cleaning, whatever it is that I need. But you have the money and you have control of the money, am I right?

JENNY MACKLIN: Yes, you’ve got a Transport Accident Scheme in New South Wales, so if people have an accident in their car in New South Wales, in the Hunter, people would know what that experience looks like. They are, through their transport accident system get the sort of care and support that the Transport Accident Scheme assessor works out with them. And so you ask the question who would do that job? We’ve got money in this year’s Budget for local, what we’re calling local area coordinators who would provide the individualised approach to delivering care, making sure that they work with the individual, with their families and carers to work out what they need.

PAUL BEVAN: Now one of the criticisms comes in at this point. Colin Barnett the West Australian Premier is saying it’s going to cost $600 million of the new money just to administer the scheme. Would the people such as those assessors be new employees of the National Disability Insurance Scheme who would be answerable to their own bureaucracy heading back to Canberra?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well all of the governance issues are still to be agreed with the states and territories, so that certainly has got to be worked through. Certainly the recommendations of the Productivity Commission, I think the desire of the disability community is that we have one national scheme. One of the problems we have at the moment with eight different schemes is people end up with very, very different levels of support and care. So there’s a lot of work for us to do with the states and territories on that issue.

PAUL BEVAN: But it sounds like…

JENNY MACKLIN: If I can just say those numbers that Mr Barnett is using are not correct and I don’t think he would think that the local area coordinators that he’s got in Western Australia are part of any bureaucracy. They’re a very important part of the service delivery in WA.

PAUL BEVAN: But they’re the front line troops and need to be supported.

JENNY MACKLIN: They sure are.

PAUL BEVAN: But they need to be supported by bureaucracy who pay them and organise their rosters and all that kind of stuff. Is that the bureaucracy that he is talking about?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think he’s referring to the money that we’re putting aside to build the IT systems. So obviously people need to be assessed, there needs to be a payment system. All of that has to be done and it has to be paid for. And what we’ve made clear in the Commonwealth offer is that the Commonwealth is prepared to pay for the setting up of the national agency for paying for the ICT system, paying for the local area coordinator. So we’re actually putting a lot of money on the table for this area and then we’re also recognising that of course people want money spent on individualised care and support. And there’s around $340 million for that in this Budget.

PAUL BEVAN: So the money you’ve set aside is partly on the back-up?


PAUL BEVAN: And also you’re providing money for front line?

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s right.

PAUL BEVAN: Okay. But the states have to come up with money for front line and perhaps back up as well, and that’s where the Productivity Commission recommendation, they said you should be spending $900 million in just the first year, but you’re spending the much touted $1 billion over four years?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we’re, what we’re doing, in fact I think from memory they recommended the first year which is the coming year that we would in fact only need to allocate around $50 million, so we’re a long way past that in the Budget allocations that we’ve made. We have taken a different approach from the Productivity Commission in the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme because we don’t want to spend all the money in the first instance in the backroom if you like, building the IT systems and so on. We want to do some of both as we roll the scheme out. Get some activity on the ground that we can learn from at the same time.

PAUL BEVAN: Coming back where we started just briefly. If the Hunter is selected, and I understand there is a bit of rumour going on in the rumour mill that the Hunter might be, being put forward by the state government, assuming they come on board at all. If it is selected, will we as one of the launch sites, get the full, what the NDIS will fully look like when it starts? Or will, even the launch sites, be slowly ramping up to the full picture?

JENNY MACKLIN: Oh well that really will depend on the states. So we’ll in the first instance, need to get the New South Wales Government to agree to make a contribution. The Commonwealth with this $1 billion commitment that’s in our Budget is prepared to make 78%, meet 78% of the cost of the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. So that’s a very significant part of the start up and, start up costs, building the system, but also making sure that we make a very substantial contribution to the ongoing costs for individuals.

PAUL BEVAN: So it could be somewhat like the NBN, it’s rolled out gradually across the country, but once you’re connected you get the full service?

JENNY MACKLIN: Once you’re in, you’re in.

PAUL BEVAN: Okay. Alright. Interesting to get some detail.


PAUL BEVAN: Jenny Macklin thank you very much for your time.