Speech by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Address to the 10,000 NDIS participants milestone event NDIS Barwon trial site, Geelong

Location: Geelong

E & OE

Thank you very much Sarah Henderson, and can I also acknowledge Bruce Bonyhady, the Chair of the Agency, David Bowen, the Chief Executive, and Steph Gunn, the hardworking trial site manager here in the Barwon. And if I could, through Steph, pay tribute to all of the staff of the NDIS Agency. I always say this, and I say it because it’s true – for the staff of the NDIS Agency, what they do is far more than a job. They do know that when they go to work they are making a contribution to improve the quality of life for fellow Australians. So thank you for the incredible effort you have put in today.

Can I also acknowledge the providers here today. And again, for the providers, they know that what they do is making a difference. Many of the people who run those organisations could be doing many other things, but they choose to be working in the sector because it’s so important.

Sarah Henderson – my great friend, the Member for Corangamite – has been a great champion in Canberra of the NDIS, and is someone who always talks about the difference that the NDIS can make in the lives of individuals.

Martin Foley, the state Minister, is an apology today, but he was very keen indeed to be here.

Today is a great occasion. We’re at a trial site which is a great facility. But the work that I do, the work that the staff do, the work that the providers do – it really has no meaning other than when it makes a difference in the lives of individuals. That’s what it’s all about.

Can I acknowledge Adam and Tina, who are representing participants here today. This is a milestone – 10,000 participants in the Scheme, and close to 3,000 of those in the Barwon trial site.

We do have a long way to go yet to get to 460,000 people in the Scheme. But we have made good progress. We are learning lessons as we go. And we will make adjustments before we move to full Scheme.

One of the things I find very pleasing is the bipartisan approach that there is, and the bipartisan support for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. And that really is embodied in the joint parliamentary oversight committee that we have, where members of all parties put partisanship aside, leave that at the door, and they just work on providing advice and scrutiny to make the Scheme the very best that it can be.

Sarah mentioned on the way in, on the board there, where participants have recorded some of their experiences in the Scheme. If you haven’t had the opportunity to stop and take a look, please do. You will see one woman who has said that she’s 57, and she’s had the opportunity to move out of home, to be living by herself. And that her mum can now spend more time with her as a mum, as a friend, rather than someone providing care and support. Another participant experience is that of a seven-year-old boy who said that he can now tie his own shoelaces. Some young twins who’ve said that they can now ride bikes together.

So do take a look at those individual experiences because that’s what everything we do is about. It’s making sure that individuals can have control in their lives. That they can be all that they can be.

This is a great venture. Everyone in this room is a part of it. We’re committed to it. Let’s enjoy the journey ahead together as we – as a group – work towards the full nation-wide rollout of the Scheme.

Thanks very much.