National Disability Insurance Scheme; Indigenous Affairs
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DAVID SPEERS: You say the Government’s committed, completely committed to making this happen. Is it going to take seven years though to put in place?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well in fact it was the Productivity Commission that recommended to us that it would take seven years to change the disability support system for it to become an insurance based approach. They understand as we do that the scheme at the moment, the way in which we provide support to people with disability and their carers is broken, but to fix it and put an insurance scheme in place is going to require a lot of detailed work. And that’s exactly what we’ve committed to start today. And that’s really why it is such an exciting day, an exciting day most importantly of course for those people with disability, their carers. People have been advocates for this change for so long and congratulations really go to them.
DAVID SPEERS: Let’s start then with the people with disabilities. What sort of change is this going to mean for them? Will it affect the sort of quality of care they receive?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well the whole purpose of having an insurance scheme is so that as you just said in your introduction, at the moment it’s just like a lottery. It depends where you live, whether or not the State you live in is providing a reasonable service or not. What in the insurance based approach would mean is that first of all it’s an individualised approach. People will actually look at what you personally need and you as a person with a disability would be able to indicate what your priorities are. So it’s not going to be in the future just based on what a State Government might or might not fund. It’s really going to be about your needs and making sure that the care is designed around you.
DAVID SPEERS: But will it still depend where you live and how much money you have, or how much money your family has…
JENNY MACKLIN : No.
DAVID SPEERS: …what level of care you’re going to get? Or are we talking about trying to standardise the whole thing? So that regardless if you’re in a wealthy Melbourne suburb or in a remote community, you’re entitled to the same care?
JENNY MACKLIN: It’s all about making sure that no matter where you live you will be entitled to a certain level of care. But that’s why there’s so much work to be done in the meantime. At the moment we don’t have any sort of national quality standards, we don’t have a common assessment way of measuring people’s needs, we don’t have the workforce to put all this in place. So an enormous amount needs to be done.
DAVID SPEERS: What about for the carers, often the parents. Their biggest worry usually is what’s going to happen when we die, who’s going to look after our disabled child? Will this give them any safety net, any assurance, any comfort, that their loved one will be okay?
JENNY MACKLIN: That’s exactly right. That’s a huge area of worry for carers. We are putting some additional carers, accommodation for people with disability in place but so much more is needed and that too, will be a way in which this insurance scheme can work. To make sure that if people’s needs are for accommodation that that is what’s provided.
DAVID SPEERS: So does this cover, would this insurance scheme cover accommodation costs as well as the care costs?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well these are all the issues that we need to work through but it is about meeting people’s particular needs. It is about recognising that we can’t just leave this to the luck of the draw. We do need to make sure that people’s individual needs are addressed.
DAVID SPEERS: So if, for example, someone needs to go into a group home type accommodation, there would be an assessment of whether that’s the appropriate…
JENNY MACKLIN: Exactly.
DAVID SPEERS: …sort of accommodation and care, and then foot the bill regardless of what the recommendation is?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well foot the bill if that is the recommendation…
DAVID SPEERS: If that’s the recommendation.
JENNY MACKLIN If the recommendation is that the particular type of care is what’s needed, that’s what should be provided.
DAVID SPEERS: None of this is going to be cheap. We’re talking about an additional $6.5 billion, that would make the total State and Federal funding around $13.5 billion. Is that roughly in the ballpark, as the Productivity Commission says?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well that’s exactly what the Productivity Commission is recommending. They’re recommending that it will take us around seven years to get to that point because of the enormous amount of work that will need to be done to establish such a new approach in Australia. We do really have to recognise what a big change this is, and also recognise the enormous amount of unmet need and the level of support that carers and people with disability require. That’s why the price tag is as the Productivity Commission has set out. But of course it now will turn to the Commonwealth working with the States and Territories to go through all the detail from the report that we’ve released today and of course, make an assessment of where we should start to do all this detailed technical work.
DAVID SPEERS: Well the big question is where do you find that money? The Productivity Commission is saying you shouldn’t introduce another Medicare style levy, that you should just find the savings in the Budget or from tax revenue. What’s your starting point here, what’s going to be your preference for paying for all of this?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well, of course, we’ve got the responsibility with the States and Territories to do that work, to examine the best way to fund a new National Disability Insurance Scheme. But we’ve only just received the report. We’ll work through the recommendations from the report and we’ll now establish this new Council of Australian Government Select Committee to make sure that together with the States we can in fact look at the best way to fund it.
DAVID SPEERS: It’s been suggested that some in Cabinet, perhaps you as well, wanted to announce more today, the pilot programs to start this. But because of the Budget situation at the moment you’ve had to make it a much slower start, is that right?
JENNY MACKLIN: No, that’s not right. What we recommended is exactly what we’ve announced. And that is that we take the recommendations from the Productivity Commission Report that we’ve released today, to announce $10 million, it’s exactly what they propose we do. That’s what we’re doing first to make sure that we get this technical work done and then in 2014 we look to the establishment of these, what they’re calling launch sites, to make out whether or not we can in fact put the new system in place in different parts of the country. But that’s a little while off yet, and of course, we’ve got a lot of detailed work to do before then.
DAVID SPEERS: All right. A quick question just finally on your other portfolio area, Indigenous Affairs. A lot of focus this week about how our tax payers dollars are being spent, or misspent on Indigenous programs, and a debate too about whether homeland communities, remote communities, whether Indigenous Australians are better off staying there or moving to where the jobs are in bigger centres. What do you think? Should Indigenous Australians be encouraged to stay in remote homelands, or move to bigger centres?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well it’s my view that that’s a decision for individual Aboriginal people themselves. And some people do want to stay living on their country and of course we support that by our working on country programs, just to use one example. But there are many other Aboriginal people of course, the largest number of people live in Sydney and Brisbane, that’s where the majority of Aboriginal people in Australia live. And they of course have decided to live there just to bring up their families there, to work in the mainstream economy. So these are decisions that Aboriginal people themselves want to make.
DAVID SPEERS: Yeah but the Government has a role here too. I mean, you either do or don’t fund to a certain extent the sort of programs, facilities and care available in remote communities. So you’ll continue doing that even though some are arguing that these remote communities shouldn’t be propped up?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well we understand that this is a decision for Aboriginal people and we certainly do provide some support for as I mentioned, working on country programs. We provide support to the Territory Government, other State Governments provide support for the maintenance of municipal services for example in remote communities. So these decisions are demonstrating that we do support people’s desire to live on country. But we also recognise that a lot of other Aboriginal people live in larger towns, larger cities, and of course we have an obligation to support them as well, through health, education, job services, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
DAVID SPEERS: All right. Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, thanks so much for that.
JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you David.