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Thursday, 14 March 2013
Page: 2112


Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Disability Reform) (10:10): I would like to start by thanking every single member of parliament who has joined in the debate on the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill 2012 and every single person who contributed to the development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I think it is right that, without exception, all members have spoken about the need for, and the benefits of, the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I see my colleague the Minister for Employment and Workplaces Relations joining us in the chamber and I acknowledge his role, when he was Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services, in the early stages of the development of this scheme.

It is true that it is rare that a proposed reform of this size strikes such a chord with so many of us across political lines. The consensus in the House does reflect the consensus across the Australian community. It is a reform whose time has come. It is a reform that this government is very, very proud to be delivering so that Australians with significant or profound disability can receive the care and support they need regardless of how they acquired their disability. Just like all Australians have access to social security and universal health care, so it is that we will now have an entitlement to services and support based on need.

This bill establishes the framework for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the National Disability Insurance Scheme Launch Transition Agency. The legislation will enable the National Disability Insurance Scheme to be launched from July this year. The launch will benefit around 26,000 people with disability and their families and carers—people living in South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, the Hunter in New South Wales and the Barwon area in Victoria. In New South Wales, where we have reached agreement to roll out the National Disability Insurance Scheme across the state by July 2018, around 140,000 people will benefit. We look forward to working with people in other states so that those with disability right across the country can be supported by the full scheme.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme will transform the lives of people with disability, their families and their carers. For the first time, they will have their needs met in a way that truly supports them to live with choice and dignity. It will bring an end to the tragedy of services denied or delayed and, instead, offer people with disability the care and support they need over their lifetimes. It will end the cruel lottery that besets people today when the care and support that they receive depends on where they live or on how they acquired their disability.

I would particularly like to recognise the efforts of the disability and carer community in coming together with providers to advocate for this overdue reform; it is because of their extraordinary efforts and their willingness to come together that we are here today. They know, as the Productivity Commission found, that the current disability support system is unfair, underfunded, fragmented and inefficient. I would especially like to thank those people who have really rolled up their sleeves, who have worked so hard and so constructively to provide input into this bill—who have considered the detail and what it means for people with a disability, their family and their carers—for a scheme that each and every one of us has so much hope for.

I also want to thank the advisory group—Jeff Harmer, Rhonda Galbally, Bruce Bonyhady, Joan McKenna Kerr, Ken Baker, Fran Vicary and Lorna Hallahan—and all those organisations who have reached out, worked with their members and with people with disability, their families and carers and with service providers right round the country to gauge their views and test ideas and practices. All of this has been fed back into making sure that the bill that we will pass today is so much stronger. I want to thank them sincerely and all those people who have put up their hands, raised their voices to be heard not only in principle but, day by day, in practice.

The rights of people with disability, their families and carers are at the heart of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and at the heart of this bill. The bill will implement a nationwide, demand driven system of care tailored to the needs of each individual and established on a durable, long-term basis. The bill reflects the extensive work on design, funding and governance that we have undertaken with the states and territories; with people with disability, their families and carers; and with providers and other key stakeholders—work that of course will be ongoing as we continue to build and refine the scheme.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme will respond to each individual's goals and aspirations for their lifetime. The National Disability Insurance Scheme Launch Transition Agency will be established as an independent statutory body with an independent board by the passage of this bill through the parliament. The board will be supported by an independent advisory council, as set out in this legislation, and its members will bring to the scheme experience of disability and of caring. The agency will work with people to plan how they will achieve their goals, taking account of their individual circumstances and needs. For the first time, people with disability will receive the care and support they need in the course of their lifetime.

The bill sets out the objects and principles under which the National Disability Insurance Scheme will operate, including giving people choice and control over the care and support that they receive, and giving effect in part to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 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 supports will be assured to participants. People will be able to decide for themselves the type of care and support they receive and choose how they want to manage these supports. They will be able to access assistance from local coordinators who understand their local community. They will also be able to access early intervention therapies and supports where these supports will improve a person's functioning or slow or prevent the progression of their disability over their lifetime. The bill also provides that the agency will be responsible for the provision of support to people with disability, their families and carers.

What sits behind this bill as well, given its size, is the hard work of people in the Australian Public Service and in state and territory governments. I want to thank in particular officers of the National Disability Insurance Scheme task force—those from my own department, led by Serena Wilson, and those from Prime Minister and Cabinet, led by Rebecca Cross. I also want to thank the officers of the agency, David Bowen and his team. Each and every one of you have put enormous effort into this scheme that all of us are working to build, and I know that each of these officers have put their heart and soul into it.

I know this is unusual, but I want to mention the particular role of the secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Dr Ian Watt, and the secretary of my own department, Finn Pratt. It is extraordinary that we have had the benefit of these two outstanding leaders in the development of this bill. Finally, I want to acknowledge the role played in my own office by my personal staff; and I thank Corri McKenzie and Kate Costello, who have also dedicated so much of their time to this bill.

I will shortly be moving amendments to the bill, and these amendments have come out of considerations by the Council of Australian Governments and other agreements that we have negotiated with the states and territories; from ongoing engagement with people who have a disability, their families and their carers; and from advocates and service providers. The amendments also respond to matters that were raised in submissions to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee during its inquiry into the bill.

This bill is an enormous step in ensuring that people with disability, their families and carers receive peace of mind. Thank you.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.