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Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Page: 2273


Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (15:07): I seek leave to incorporate into Hansard answers to a question asked of me by Senator Siewert on 15 March in my capacity representing Minister Macklin, the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Leave granted.

The answer read as follows—

The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Minister for Disability Reform

Parliament House   Telephone: (02) 6277 7560

CANBERRA ACT 2600 Facsimile: (02) 6273 4122

BRI2-000296

19 MAR 2012

Senator Rachel Siewert

Senator for Western Australia

Parliament House

CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Rachel

I am writing in response to your Question on Notice taken by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator the Hon Chris Evans, on Thursday 15 March 2012 about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). I am replying on behalf of Senator Evans as this matter falls within my portfolio responsibilities as Minister for Disability Reform.

You asked what action has been taken by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to ensure people with disability are involved in the development of an NDIS.

The Commonwealth Government recognises that to successfully complete work on the foundation reforms, experts in the field, people with disability, their families, carers and their representative organisations will need to be engaged on an ongoing basis. Significant consultation has already taken place, including the extensive consultations by the Productivity Commission, and the information sessions held in every capital city by the Commonwealth Long-Term Care and Support Taskforce.

As you are aware, on 19 August 2011, the Council of Australian Governments agreed to form a Select Council of Ministers from Commonwealth, states and territories to start work immediately to lay the foundations for an NDIS. The foundation reforms include consideration and strategies for preparing people with disability and their carers for a launch of an NDIS.

On 7 October 2011, the Government announced the appointment of the NDIS Advisory Group. The Advisory Group is working closely with governments and key stakeholders and provides opportunities for ongoing engagement in the disability reform process. The Advisory Group reports to the Select Council on Disability Reform which has representation from all jurisdictions.

The majority of the Advisory Group members were selected from nominations by state and territory governments and they bring together diverse experiences of the disability sector to ensure that governments will receive well balanced and informed advice. Some members of the Advisory Group also bring their own experiences as people with a disability.

Part of the Advisory Group's role is to ensure that the views of people with disability, their families, carers and service providers are reflected in the foundations and design of an NDIS. The Advisory Group will engage across Australia on reform options as the details of these options are developed. The Advisory Group is currently finalising its engagement plan which will include a range of engagement activities.

I understand the Chair of the Advisory Group, Dr Jeff Harmer will be attending the Friends of People with Disability Meeting which you are co-convening on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 to discuss the activities of the Advisory Group. I hope this meeting with Dr Harmer will give you further insight and confidence in their valuable role in engaging with people with disability.

State and territory governments have also formed similar advisory groups, such as the Queensland NDIS Working Group, Victorian NDIS Implementation Taskforce and the South Australian NDIS Taskforce. The NDIS Advisory Group is liaising with these groups which has proven useful in pinpointing their jurisdictions specific issues.

You also asked about the level of funding being made available to people with disability to participate and prepare for the implementation of an NDIS At this point, the Government has allocated a total of $10 million to progress the foundation reforms and the activities of the Advisory Group which will include consultations by the Advisory Group with people with disability and consultations on elements of the foundation reforms, such as the development of assessment tools. In addition the, Government has provided $10 million in grants to projects that Will help to inform the development of the NDIS and Prepare people with disability, their families and carers, the disability sector and workforce for its implementation.

Thank you for being a champion for people with disability. I look forward to working with you and the Australian Greens as we progress on the path of this fundamental disability reform.

Yours sincerely

JENNY MACKLIN MP