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Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Government welcomes Productivity Commission Issues Paper on Disability Care and Support

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

The Minister for Community Services, Jenny Macklin, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, Bill Shorten, today welcomed the release of the Productivity Commission’s issues paper on disability care and support.

The Rudd Government has asked the Productivity Commission to examine a range of options for providing long-term care and support to people with disabilities, including consideration of the appropriateness of a no-fault social insurance approach to disability.

The inquiry will examine how a long-term disability care and support scheme could be designed, funded and implemented including its interaction with Australia’s health, aged care, and income support systems.

‘We believe it’s time to rethink how we support people with disability as well as their families which is why we have commissioned this inquiry,’ Ms Macklin said.

‘If Australia is to become truly fair and inclusive, we need to give people with disability and their carers the same opportunities as other Australians.

‘I know that many people in the disability community – their carers, families and advocates – strongly support a national disability insurance scheme.

‘It would, of course, be a transformative change which is why it’s so important that it is examined thoroughly by the Productivity Commission. The Commission will be able to apply the detailed and rigorous analysis of the costs, benefits and feasibility.

‘At the same time, all Australians with an interest in reforming the way we support people with disability will have the opportunity to contribute to the Productivity Commission inquiry, responding to the issues raised in the paper we are releasing today.’

Mr Shorten said the issues paper confirmed the need for change to Australia’s existing systems of disability support.

‘It identifies many of the weaknesses in the current systems, including gaps in funding, a lack of co-ordination between services, lack of individualised services and a lack of certainty about the future for many people with disability, their families and carers,’ Mr Shorten said.

‘This inquiry is not about re-stating the problem. It is about working out solutions to the growing demand for disability services as our population ages. I would urge anyone with an interest in the area to make their voice heard.

‘People with disability, their families and carers waited for over a decade for the previous government to take action. Finally, we have a government that is taking this issue seriously and starting the hard work of reform.’

For those people wanting to contribute to the inquiry, public hearings will be held in June and July this year with initial submissions due at the end of June 2010. The 2010-11 Budget included an additional investment of $520,000 to support people with disability, their families and carers to participate in the Productivity Commission inquiry.

The inquiry will report back to the Federal Government by July 2011.

The issues paper is available online.