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Monday, 11 February 2013
Page: 613

Mr CHEESEMAN (Corangamite) (12:47): It is with great pleasure that I rise today to speak on the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill 2012. For too long, people in Australia born with a disability or who perhaps acquired one through injury or illness have found it difficult to be able to get the resources together that they need to be able to support their disability. When that is the situation the burden often falls back on carers and their communities to chip in and support those people with those disabilities and their challenges. Because of the challenges that those communities and individuals have faced, there has been a call to establish the National Disability Insurance Scheme to provide the resources that are provided to support people with disabilities and their carers. This particular bill establishes the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the National Disability Insurance Scheme Launch Transition Agency.

I am very pleased that my seat of Corangamite, and indeed the whole of the Barwon south-west health region of Victoria, has been selected to be a launch site. I am looking forward to working with all of the communities across that region to ensure that the National Disability Insurance Scheme launch site provides valuable lessons for the nation and provides us with key insights as to how it should work and how it should be rolled out across the whole nation. In the Barwon region there are at the moment some 5,000 people with significant and profound disabilities. I know from talking to many people with disabilities within my region that they are looking forward to participating in this and getting the necessary resources to support them with their disabilities.

One of the exciting things about the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme is that those with disabilities and their carers will be at the heart of the decisions made about what they require, whether that be aids, care or other things. Whatever it happens to be, it will be their decision as opposed to a decision imposed upon them by a state government, the Commonwealth or an NGO within that space. That is important. Providing people with the opportunity to be at the heart of decisions about what they need is important. The people being at the heart of such decisions will also be able to put in place individualised care and support packages that can best support them with their disability. With these launch sites—of which Victoria has one—we have had to work closely with the state government, the Baillieu government, to get the agreement and arrangements in place to help support the scheme. It is pleasing that the Victorian government has come on board and is working in partnership with the Commonwealth to make sure that it does work.

In talking to a lot of disability support agencies, they are indicating to me that they are now starting the process of gearing up for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. They are predicting that there will be more workers within the industry. I think it is a good thing to have more professionals working closely with people with a disability and their family support mechanisms; this will also be very important. Last week, I was fortunate enough to be able to announce with the minister that there will be some 80 employees taken on in the not too distant future to help support the Barwon South West launch site. We will be recruiting a whole raft of different people with different experiences and with different qualifications, and I certainly look forward to meeting with those people in due course and hearing firsthand how they see the National Disability Insurance Scheme working.

We also have agreements with some of the other state and territory governments around the nation, and I think that is very pleasing. Disappointingly, at this stage the Queensland government is one example of a government that has not recognised the need for this scheme, and has not recognised the need to partner with the Commonwealth in delivering the National Disability Insurance Scheme. That is extremely disappointing for Queenslanders with a disability and I would hope that the Queensland Premier, in due course, does recognise the need for the scheme, and does come on board and partner with the Commonwealth government in delivering the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

I can recall when I was first elected to parliament back in 2007 I received a delegation of people with disabilities from my seat. I was surprised at the complexity of the system that was in place, and how difficult it was for individuals to negotiate with funding providers to get in place the individual care packages that they needed that were tailored to them. At that point in time, I was briefed on a concept that was getting around to form an insurance-type body that would help provide funding and support—perhaps similar to a traffic accident commission or a work cover-type model. The conversations at that point in time were only just beginning, but they had begun. I can recall the concept was around making the person with a disability or their carer at the centre of decision-making where they would be assessed and provided with an amount of money that they could use to buy the types of aids they might need, or to engage a carer, or whatever it may happen to be This seemed to me to make a lot of sense, particularly in terms of what was in place and the complexity of it and, to be frank, the complete and utter underfunding for those with a disability.

I look forward to working with the Geelong region, working with the transition agency and working very closely with disability organisations across my electorate to make sure that not only do we get it right, but the valuable lessons that come from having the disability insurance scheme launch site in Geelong are taken around the country. The Geelong region does have a proud track record of being at the forefront of reform. We do it better than any other region, and I am sure that with Geelong people fully behind this launch site, we can learn how to better support people with a disability and of course their families. That is an endeavour that I personally hold and I know that people in the Geelong area also wish to see occur.

On that note, I look forward to working with the sector, with people with a disability and with their carers not only to deliver this for Geelong, but also to learn important lessons that we can take around the rest of the country.