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Thursday, 7 February 2013
Page: 405

Ms HALL (Shortland) (10:53): I support the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I support people with disabilities. I do not support political pointscoring around them. I urge those on the other side of the House to do what the Premier of New South Wales and the Premier of Victoria have done and show tangible support for the NDIS.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill is groundbreaking legislation. It is legislation that brings about major societal change. It is legislation that will change the lives of people with disabilities, their families and their carers. This legislation recognises that people with disability are real people, with real needs which need to be recognised and met, and that they deserve equal treatment and equal opportunity in life.

I will go to the details of the bill. It establishes the framework for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the National Disability Insurance Scheme Launch Transition Agency. It will enable the scheme to be launched and the agency to operate the launch in five sites around Australia from July 2013. The first stage of the scheme will benefit more than 20,000 people with disabilities, their families and their carers living in South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, the Barwon area of Victoria and the Hunter in New South Wales, which is where my electorate is situated. The bill sets out the process for a person becoming a participant in the scheme, how participants develop a personal, goal based plan with the agency, and how reasonable and necessary support will be assured to those people with disabilities. The agency will be responsible for the provision of support for people with disabilities. The NDIS will be tailored to meet the needs of a person with disability. It will be a centrally based scheme that is designed around that person, not designed around a system. The legislation will recognise their needs.

As a person who has spent much of their working life assisting people to cope with the impact of disabilities on their lives and to develop strategies to live in the community and to find jobs, I know the challenges that exist in the current system. Disability can lead to a life marked by isolation, poverty, loss of dignity, hopelessness, fear for the future, limited life choices, declining and limited quality of life and limited opportunities. This legislation is about changing that.

Currently, I have two remarkable young women who work in my office: Tracey Blair and Krystle Brown, both of whom have significant disabilities and both of whom will benefit from the NDIS. Tracey is a young woman who had a series of brain tumours. She was attending university at the time, studying. The onset of the brain tumours totally changed her life and her expectations in life. She is now confined to a wheelchair. She has visual problems and speech problems, but she is still as bright and vivacious as she ever was. She really has a positive impact on what happens in our office. She contributes in so many ways. She is like other people with disability—all they need is that opportunity to contribute, and they need the support in place. I know Tracey's mother and father. They worry about Tracey's care as they get older. They worry about how she will cope when they are no longer around. That is very common for parents of children with disability. They fear for the future. They fear for the child whom they love so desperately. They fear for their care when they are not there. The NDIS is a very tangible way to deliver certainty.

The other young person I have working in my office is Krystle Brown. Krystle is a young girl who has had juvenile arthritis and, once again, is confined to a chair—she is in an electric wheelchair.

She has been working on updating my book The great walks of Shortland. She has very good creative skills and is quiet but she very definitely contributes to our office and makes it a much better place.

All programs for people with disability need to be tailored to that person's needs. I saw that when I was working in the area. People with disabilities are people who have needs and feelings and they need to have their needs met. Change will come about with this legislation as it is legislation that provides leadership. The government has really showed leadership in this area. For years, people with disabilities languished in the community begging support, begging for recognition. It is here that I will pay credit to the fine role played by Minister Shorten. He developed a real passion for ensuring that people with disability are actually given the opportunity to enjoy what the rest of society enjoys.

The NDIS will fundamentally change the lives of people with disability. For the record, disability is the result of having some sort of significant impairment. For a person who has a loss of vision, their disability is they cannot see. For a person who is deaf, their disability is that they cannot hear. A person who has a spinal injury and who is confined to a wheelchair may have a disability of not being able to work. It is really important to understand the difference between impairment and disability. It is disability that this piece of legislation will support. It will establish a framework for the NDIS and it will establish the transition agency, as I have already mentioned.

There has been extensive consultation with people with disabilities, their families, their carers and with service providers. Within my electorate I have held two consultation forums back in 2011, one in the Lake Macquarie area and one in the Central Coast area. I continue to consult with people on the NDIS, on disability and on ways in which the government can meet their needs. I think the thing that is really strong about this legislation is the degree of consultation undertaken. We had the Productivity Commission report. Now we have gone through that consultation, it is time for action and the trial sites have been announced. It is the right of a person with a disability to actually be given opportunities.

The NDIS will provide a plan and a coordinated approach to providing support and services to people with disability rather than them lurching from one crisis to another. I am sure members on both sides of this House will have had people come to their office and talk to them when a crisis develops. We then put them in touch with people that can actually help them resolve the crisis.

I would like to pay tribute to the organisation Every Australian Counts and to the role they have played with the disability teas. They have raised the awareness of disability. I do not think there has ever been a time where disability has featured so highly within our communities.

I am particularly excited about the NDIS and about one of the trial sites being in the Hunter. It is a fantastic opportunity for people with disability who live in the Hunter. Many of the people that I worked with in a previous life—those people with disability and also those that are involved with providing services—are very excited about it. People with significant and profound disability in the Hunter will benefit from the National Disability Insurance Scheme next year.

It is really positive that the Australian and New South Wales governments could come together and reach an agreement. I was very worried for a time that that would not eventuate but it did, and now people with disability in the Hunter are the winners. There are going to be 10,000 people in the Hunter region with significant and profound disability who will benefit from the scheme. Their needs will be assessed and they will start to receive the individual care and support packages.

It is so important that those packages and supports be individually tailored. The NDIS will put in place a case-management approach to disability where people will be able to choose who it is that they go to for provision of the services they need and the support they need. It will have an approach that is all about them. It will not be about the service deliverer, it will not be about the government but about the person who has the disability. It will be about them, their lives and the lives of their family. It is something that each and every member of this parliament should be passionate about because this is legislation that will really change the lives of people.

Under the NDIS, people with disability in the Hunter region will be assessed to receive these individualised care and support packages that I speak so passionately about. They will have decision-making powers about their care and support including their choice of provider as already mentioned. They will be assisted by local coordinators to help manage and deliver their support. The case managers will be integral to the success of this NDIS once it is up and running. They will be the people who will be in touch with the person with a disability on an ongoing basis.

The NDIS will also provide access to the system. It will be easily navigated and linked to mainstream community services. It will be great not only for the person with a disability but also for their family and carers. Through the agency it will develop a consistent approach to assessing people's needs. The Hunter launch site will ensure a proper test of the individualised support and arrangements of the process for transition to the system.

I think this is great legislation, just in case you did not pick it up from my contribution to this debate. It will make a real difference to the lives of people who have been ignored for so long. This is legislation about people. It is legislation about delivering a commitment given by this government. Every member in this House should be proud of this legislation. This legislation will make me pleased to go back to my electorate to talk to people with disability. Disability should not be a sentence of total disempowerment and a life of isolation and poverty. People with disability have needs, expectations and rights. This ground-breaking legislation will deliver. It recognises that people with disability have rights and needs.