Speech by The Hon Sarah Henderson MP

Scope Annual General Meeting and Annual Awards ceremony

Thank you, Brandon. I would like to thank Scope for inviting me to speak at the ceremony today.

I would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of this Land. I would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other Indigenous Australians present.

I would also like to acknowledge:

·        Dr Jennifer Fitzgerald, Chief Executive Officer of Scope

·        Ms Nicole Mahar, Director, Provider and Market Engagement, NDIA

·        Ms Ashleigh Ward, A/Assistant Director, Provider and Market Engagement, Victoria  and Tasmania, NDIA

·        Ms Janine Toomey, Executive Director, Disability and NDIS, Department of Health and Human Services,

·        Superintendent Richard Watkins and other Members of Victoria Police

Firstly – HAPPY 70th BIRTHDAY. I am honoured to be able to join your celebrations today and would like to congratulate Scope on the decades of wonderful support you have provided, particularly in creating cohesive communities, across Victoria.

You deserve to be very proud.

Accordingly it was not a surprise for me to learn you were recognised by the Victorian Government as one of the top providers to be delivering supported independent living and short term accommodation services.

Also I would personally like to thank you for being role models within the sector carrying out education and training in accessibility and communication within the community.

And since 2013, you’ve been a registered service provider under the NDIS offering services in the NDIS Barwon trial site, contributing strategically to the evolution of the NDIS.

The NDIS is one of the most important social reforms in Australian history, and in my new role as Assistant Minister for Social Services, Housing and Disability Services, I am honoured to be part of this transformative work.

For the first time, people with disability are being given choice and control. This is a new approach to provide people supports they needs according to their goals and aspirations.

From my home in Geelong, I have seen the scheme grow from a few trial sites to a maturing Scheme now available across many parts of Australia

There are now more than 200,000 Australians with disability benefiting from the NDIS.

Although many people are seeing significant benefits from the NDIS, major social reforms like this take time to mature and we will continue to work with you to refine and evolve the scheme over time.

An important part of this process is listening to people’s experience with the NDIS, including participants, families, carers and service providers.

Over the last 12 months, the Australian Government has continued to consult about, and review, the NDIS with participants, families, carers and service providers throughout Australia – many like you here in the room today.

We’ve gathered critical information including what we’re getting right and where we need to improve.

Importantly the NDIS replaces a disability system that was unfair and inefficient with a new system that is world-leading, equitable and sustainable.

From my perspective, it looks like we need to do more to help people understand the NDIS and the opportunities that exist for participants to exercise choice and control, as well as build the services sector so participants have real choice.

To help this along, and ensure we have the workforce available to meet demand and create choice for participants, the Government is investing in programs to support providers in developing their workforces.

By 2020, the NDIS will be one of the largest job creation opportunities in Australia’s history, with an additional 90,000 jobs predicted across Australia.

This will be achieved through Australian Government programs like the $45 million Jobs and Market Fund, which addresses collective challenges through projects to grow the market and workforce, including support for under-supplied markets by participant cohort, support type and geographic area.

The Jobs and Market Fund will provide funds to employ local workers in local communities building employment opportunities for people to work with NDIS participants.

It may also fund innovative solutions like supporting providers to develop new delivery models such as telehealth or online support in rural and remote areas.

Or, it may fund collaborative projects between providers and participant groups to expand services that participants with psychosocial disability want and need.

Complementing this, the Australian Government’s $33 million Boosting the Local Care Workforce Program aims to build a diverse market and workforce, which will provide people with disability to exercise choice and control over the services they receive and when they receive them.

The program will help providers to grow their workforce, boost local job opportunities in rural, regional and outer suburban areas, and link job seekers with disability employers.

I want to assure you we are working to make the NDIS the transformative approach for disability services that people are expecting.

It is now with great pleasure I have the opportunity to present the Customer Awards for the best customer young leader, leader and the best customer team award.