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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9084


Mr BROUGH (Fisher) (10:08): On behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, I present the committee's progress report on the implementation and administration of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. At the outset I would like to thank all 15 of the committee members who participated in the short time this committee has been in session for their bipartisan, collegiate approach to ensuring that this incredibly large and complex reform is given the best chance of success. Every member came to the committee with the approach, 'We want to do the best we can as members of parliament and as senators to ensure that the National Disability Insurance Scheme, as implemented by the agency, works.'

We heard incredible evidence of wonderful success. Some was heart wrenching, hearing about the changes that have been made to individuals' lives. We also heard that there is still an enormous amount of work to be done. On that front, I want to thank the National Disability Insurance Agency for its cooperation and work, and for the way in which it has set about this very complex task. In making the recommendations that we have, I can say today to the House that the agency have moved quickly to absorb what we as a committee recommended they do to improve the system and to ensure it is sustainable into the future and provides the sorts of outcomes every Australian desires. But they have already responded to the committee about this report, and in doing so have told us unequivocally that they accept in full all of the recommendations made that pertain directly to the agency, and for this we thank them.

What this committee undertook to do in the first instance was to visit the trial sites—in Newcastle, Geelong, Hobart, being all of Tasmania, and also in Adelaide—and talk directly to participants, to the people whose lives have been impacted the most by a lack of services, or those who have actually gained services as a result of the implementation of the scheme. We also spoke to those who are there to support the people who are living with a disability. They are the carers, their families and of course the service providers.

In this short address to the parliament this morning, I would just like to make note of a few of the issues that have come to the fore, and what is to happen from here. First of all there was a great concern about what is known as 'tier two'—those personnel or people who are not actually going to be accepted by the agency as needing tier three or as having high complex needs, but are still going to need important services to ensure they have the quality of life that the services and the scheme is designed to provide. There is much work to be done here. In confidential conversations we have had with the agencies we are buoyed by the direction they intend to take.

Supported accommodation continues to be a major concern around the country. With state governments making what I believe to be the right decisions—that is, to get out of large complexes where people have resided for a long time. There is a great deal of angst amongst those who have resided there and feel safe. There needs to be a lot more done and a lot more innovation put in place. The state governments, the private sector and the Commonwealth are going to have to work closely together to ensure that we have a range of supported accommodation and respite accommodation that meets the market and the aspirations of the people who will be needing it.

For me, the largest issue is the readiness of the sector itself. This is a sector that has continually relied upon direct Commonwealth and state funding in block funding. The model has been turned on its head. The power has been given to the individual, as it should be. But at the same time this creates massive uncertainty for the sector. The sector not only has uncertainty but it also has to deal with enormous growth. The Productivity Commission thinks there is going to be a need for another 125,000 people in the sector. They need to be trained. So there is a lot of work to be done by COAG to make sure the Commonwealth heads of government, all of the ministers involved, work on both the people, the training and the sector as a whole in its development and robustness, so that we can move forward and make sure we meet these aspirations.

Again, I want to thank everybody who gave evidence, because it was the people who gave evidence who allowed this committee to make the recommendations we have, and in doing so give the agency and governments as a whole the power they need and the decisions they need to be able to make the right decisions moving forward on behalf of this important sector to Australia.