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Tuesday, 12 March 2013
Page: 1605


Dr SOUTHCOTT (Boothby) (13:35): I welcome the opportunity to speak on the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill 2012. This is a momentous overhaul of disability funding across Australia and represents a once-in-a-generation reform. The bill establishes the framework for the NDIS and the framework for the NDIS Launch Transition Agency. On average, every 30 minutes someone in Australia is diagnosed with a significant disability. There are 410,000 people across Australia who have a permanent disability that significantly affects their communication, mobility, self-care or self-management.

The current system of support for Australians living with a disability is not working. The level of support a person with a disability receives in Australia depends on a number of factors: what state they live in, what disability they have and how that disability was attained. While workplace and motor vehicle accidents are covered by accident insurance, those who are born with a disability or who acquire one later in life can be left without the assistance they need or be faced with waiting lists and queues.

The Productivity Commission found that, while there are pockets of successfully managed disability services in some states, no disability support services are working well across the board. I have seen, in my 17 years as a federal member, that families are often frustrated by the lack of support that they receive from state government disability services and by the fact that this support is rationed. We need a new system of support for those with disabilities that is based on need, rather than the current system of rationing on a budget allocation. The individual needs to be in control. The individual needs to be at the centre and able to pick the support, aid, equipment and service providers of their choice. This is the vision of the Productivity Commission report and it is the vision of the NDIS. It will work in a similar way to Medicare, a successful social insurance scheme.

The coalition has been an enthusiastic supporter of the NDIS at every step. We supported the Productivity Commission work, we supported the $1 billion in the last budget, we supported the five launch sites and we are supporting this legislation. We believe the NDIS can be delivered in the time frame recommended by the Productivity Commission. As evidence of our goodwill, we are willing to work with the government to see the NDIS delivered as soon as possible. This historic reform will develop over the life of several parliaments and needs to be the property of the parliament rather than of any one political party. That is why the coalition has called for the establishment of a joint parliamentary committee, to be chaired by both sides of politics, to oversee the establishment and implementation of the NDIS. This would provide a non-partisan environment where issues of design and eligibility could be worked through cooperatively. Unfortunately, those opposite have refused this by voting down Senator Fifield's motion in the Senate with the support of the Greens.

The bill establishes the framework for the NDIS and the NDIS Launch Transition Agency. The agency will be set up as an independent body separate from government to deliver and manage the NDIS. This will allow the scheme to be launched in five sites across Australia from July 2013. The first site is designed to benefit over 20,000 people with disabilities, their families and carers. The five launch sites are South Australia, the ACT, Tasmania, Hunter in the New South Wales and Barwon in Victoria.

An NDIS looks beyond just the immediate need of a person with disabilities and focuses on what that person will require across their lifetime. The scheme provides funding to help people with a disability to participate more fully in economic and social life by providing an entitlement that will allow them to organise aids, equipment, supported accommodation or personal attendant care. The NDIS, when fully implemented, will be available to all Australians who have a permanent disability that significantly affects their communication, mobility, self-care or self-management.

In my own electorate of Boothby there are many important sites where there are a number of people with a disability who will benefit from an NDIS. Bedford Industries, based at Panorama in Boothby since 1949 and originally founded in 1920, is an employment and training provider for people with a disability. It has an excellent reputation across the nation. Bedford supports almost 4,000 people with a disability or disadvantage. It employs 800 people with disabilities across South Australia in its furniture, horticulture, hospitality, packaging and other areas. Bedford provides living arrangements for almost 200 people up at its Balyana residences.

Minda, established in 1898, is South Australia's largest disability service provider. It offers support and opportunity to over 1,500 people in accommodation, supported employment, lifestyle services and respite. Minda has already received $30,000 in funding to prepare themselves for the NDIS through the NDIS Readiness Fund. The Suneden School, founded in 1943 and located in Mitchell Park, is a private school catering for children with intellectual and multiple disabilities aged between five and 21 years old. My electorate office has a number of artworks from the students of Suneden School, and their art show every year is always a highlight of the local community's calendar.    Suneden has close links with a number of external agencies to assist with their provision of programs, including Disability SA, Autism SA, Novita, Minda, Respite Services and various workplace providers, including Bedford Industries, Orana and Phoenix.

In conclusion, this is an important change that will help support those around Australia with disabilities. The coalition supports this bill, and we stand ready with the government to make the NDIS a reality.