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Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Page: 8427

Ms BURKE (Chisholm) (19:45): I rise tonight to speak on the government's initiative in the area of supported services for people with disability, in particular its plan to introduce a National Disability Insurance Scheme. I want to speak out in full support of this initiative.

I also want to take the time to thank the many wonderful disability groups in my electorate who have been behind the push for this development. Yes, the government asked the Productivity Commission to look at this; but this has been a scheme that many community groups, disability groups and individuals have been pushing for for some time.

I will just name a few that are housed in my electorate and who have been very quietly advocating behind the scenes: Brainlink Services Limited, the MS Society, Scope, the Oakleigh Centre, Melbourne East Disability Advocacy, Alkira and numerous others in my electorate. They have been behind the scenes supporting this and they have applauded the government's and the Productivity Commission's announcement to finally end this system of chasing money endlessly, and to develop this scheme.

The system of disability services is, as we all know, stretched, and has often failed to meet the needs of the disabled in our community, their families and their carers. As the Productivity Commission report said, 'It is unfair, unfunded and fragmented,' and it is certainly overdue for major reform. As the campaign that is currently running says, 'Every Aussie counts,' and we should have a system that does not say that how you got your disability determines your funding level; it is that you are disabled, and we will have a national scheme to ensure that people are covered.

The government did ask the Productivity Commission to look into long-term care and support of people with disabilities. One of the growing issues amongst many in my community, and I know this is across the board, is ageing parents who have children with disability in their care. They are terrified of what will happen to that child when the parent dies. Mine is an ageing community and so these are parents who look at their child, who is 40 or 50 and who is still their full responsibility. They are traumatised about what will happen to them. This report says that one of the big funding gaps is in that area of housing and support when parents and carers have gone and that we need to fund that into the future.

The Productivity Commission has recommended that, like Medicare, Australians should be insured against significant disability. It means that those Australians with significant disability will get the kind of care and support Australians expect for them. It also means that any Australian who acquires a disability, or whose child is born with a disability, can have confidence that they will get helping hands when they need it. The government agrees that transformational reform of disability services is desperately needed to provide the kind of care and support that people need.

To give Australians who might acquire a disability the confidence that they will be given a helping hand when they need it most the government will be working with states and territories, and that will begin this Friday at the COAG meeting to ensure that we have a nationally coordinated scheme. The scheme will provide individually tailored care and support to around 410,000 people with significant disabilities.

Many people think that people with disabilities in our community are diminishing. Actually, people with disability in our communities are increasing, and we need to ensure that we have the means to ensure that they are cared for now and into the future. It will be accompanied by a national injury insurance scheme to provide no-fault insurance for anyone who suffers a catastrophic injury. The government acknowledges the importance of taking an insurance approach to provide people with disability with the care and support they need over the course of their lifetime, and is starting the process of reform by establishing an advisory group to assist the task force to provide expert advice on delivering the foundations for reform and preparing for launch and by seeking to establish a select committee on disability reform that would bring together Commonwealth, states, territories and disability ministers to do the work needed to lay the foundations for change.

The government is committing an additional $10 million immediately in line with Productivity Commission recommendations to support this work and to lay the foundation for reforms. This is on top of the increased funding this government has provided already in the disability space.

I have spoken often in this place of the wonderful organisations in my electorate that do great work, but I had the joy of visiting many over the break—the break from Canberra, not from work, can I just emphasise! Waverley Industries was one that I got to, and where I opened a new kitchen. Waverley Industries is a not-for-profit organisation that provides work for people with disabilities. This is a fantastic new kitchen that has been fully funded by charitable donations. It will now provide a new outlet for disability employment, providing catering and support services in the area. I really want to commend Waverley Industries, and if anybody in Melbourne is looking for a good catering service—please use them.

I also had the joy again of visiting IMPACT Support Services. IMPACT Support Services is a great organisation which is trying to help socialise people with disability in the community so we know that they are not different. (Time expired)