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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Page: 8793

Ms HALL (ShortlandGovernment Whip) (19:25): Tonight I rise to raise an issue that is very dear to my heart. I believe it is one of the most important initiatives that any government has introduced—that is, the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The NDIS is an initiative which creates opportunity. It sets up an entitlement based system which provides choice to people with disability, something which has never happened in the past. It provides services and delivers peace of mind to people with disability, their families and carers.

Before I became a member of parliament, I worked with people with disability. I helped them to live independently in the community. I was involved in programs with people who had spinal injuries and head injuries, with people who had mental illness, people who had injuries acquired at work and people who had congenital disabilities. What I found most overwhelming was how the system failed people with disabilities. No matter how hard you worked, there were always barriers to them achieving their full potential, to enjoy the quality of life that a person with a disability should experience. Then there was the angst parents had about their children's future. I cannot hold a mobile office without a parent saying to me, 'I worry about my child's future.' The NDIS is designed to address this.

The NDIS is about hope for the future and entitlement for all those people with disabil­ities, an entitlement to bring peace of mind to their families. I am particularly excited that the Hunter has been chosen as the site for the launch of the NDIS in New South Wales. I have two young women with disability who volunteer in my office. Tracey Blair is con­fined to a chair after a brain tumour opera­tion. Our office functions extremely well because of the enormous contributions made by Tracey. She is part of the team and a wonderful, vibrant young woman. Prior to having the tumour removed, she was attend­ing university. Her parents worry about her future. They have said to me on so many occasions, 'What happens when we're no longer here?' They are very concerned that Tracey will be provided for in future. They believe the NDIS will provide that opportunity.

As I said before, the NDIS is entitlement based. People no longer have to prove that they should get assistance; rather, they have an entitlement to it and it is choice driven. The other young girl who works in my office is Crystal Brown, who has had severe arthritis since childhood.

Her contributions have been enormous as well. She has recently completed an update of my Great Walks of Shortland and she has done that in an outstanding manner. In her own quiet little way, Crystal has achieved and she is so much a part of the team, but she needs to have choices for the future and she needs to know that her wellbeing will be looked after into the future.

The launch will be in July next year and that will happen after extensive consultation with people with disabilities, families, carers, advocacy groups and providers. This is really good news. As a person who has worked in this area over many years I welcome it and I know that it is going to advantage all people with disabilities. I am thrilled that the first pilot in New South Wales will be in the Hunter.