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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9304


Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (18:56): I rise to speak to the motion moved by the member for Dawson and to congratulate him for bringing to the House this very important motion about the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I agree with the sentiments of proposal (1)(a) in the member for Dawson's motion that the:

… National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a once-in-a-generation landmark reform that has the potential to deliver better quality of life outcomes for Australians with disabilities;

However, I will not, like my other colleagues, be supporting his call for this to be referred to a special committee for oversight.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is very much a centrepiece of this government's way of thinking and the manner in which it has resolved to act, in order to support people with disabilities and to help them to lead a more active and productive life. We hope to achieve this by focusing on what it is we can help people with disabilities to achieve, rather than what they cannot achieve. It is fitting that we are debating this particular matter this week, a few short days away from the opening of the Paralympics Games in London. Too often in today's society, disability often equates in the minds of people to disadvantage, and that is why the government are even more committed to ensuring that the NDIS is implemented as quickly as possible because of the potential scale and quantum of change that it represents.

We only need to look at our Australian Paralympic athletes to realise that with social change and the right support anything can be achieved. Since the games in Atlanta in 1996, our athletes have maintained our nation's place in the top five on the gold medal tally, including a No. 1 ranking at the Sydney 2000 games.

In a similar way, and in the spirit of assisting Australians with disabilities, the National Disability Insurance Scheme will ensure that people with disability will be helped to tap into unknown levels of potential that will benefit not only them but society as a whole, and more importantly those people who are charged with caring for them.

Over the years as the member for Calwell, I have had many conversations with my constituents. I have heard many pleas from parents who have children with disabilities—as members opposite made reference—and their single, greatest anxiety is what will happen to their children once they are no longer around to look after them. It is one of the most poignant pleas that I have ever had to be at the receiving end of as a member of parliament. Finally, we have a scheme that responds to the real human face of those anxieties and concerns. In putting together the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the government is showing that it has understood people's needs and it is now responding to those needs.

Apart from our own discussions with people over the years, the system the government has put in place has been formed through substantial feedback through the Shut out report of the National People with Disabilities and Carer Council and is underpinned by feedback from the Productivity Commission's inquiry and the Every Australian Counts campaign. So there has been a lot of consultation and a lot of feedback, and a lot of input has gone into designing this scheme.

The government is aware that the current disability system encourages crisis, metering out support only when it is desperately needed—and with meagre and inadequate resources. The government has listened and understood how people with disability often feel shut out and frustrated at not being able to join—in this case, those who can—in the workforce and to contribute larger to society. So I am pleased that the government is responding to these needs through this scheme. I want to reiterate that people with disabilities have waited a lifetime almost for government action in this area of concern, and it is with great pleasure that I am able to support the implementation of the NDIS.