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Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Page: 5055

National Disability Insurance Scheme


Senator MOORE (Queensland) (14:07): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Disability Reform, Senator Evans. Can the minister update the Senate on the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme?


Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:07): I thank Senator Moore for her long-term interest in this issue. The Gillard government is absolutely committed to delivering a National Disability Insurance Scheme. An NDIS will make sure we are delivering the kind of care and support Australians expect for people with a disability, their families and their carers.

One year ago, we received and released the Productivity Commission's report into disability care and support in Australia. This showed that people with disability, their families and their carers were waiting far too long for the care and support they need. That is why the Labor government put people with a disability, their carers and their families first when we committed to an NDIS. The NDIS will end the cruel lottery that sees people with disability receive different support depending on where they live or how they acquired their disability, give decision making to people with disability, their families and their carers, and put choice in their hands so that they can make the most of their opportunities and fulfil their potential.

That is why we are getting on with the job of delivering the foundations of the scheme. We put $1 billion on the table to fund the first stages of the scheme. We have established a new launch transition agency to run the delivery of care and support people with disability, their families and their carers. Applications are open for the $10 million practical design fund. I can also inform the Senate that in the past fortnight the government has reached agreement with the governments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT for launch sites.

We regard this as a fundamental Labor reform, standing up for ordinary Australians. Like another great Labor reform, Medicare, the National Disability Insurance Scheme will provide comfort to every parent in the country. It will provide a solution to the very considerable neglect that people with disability have had to suffer for many years.


Senator MOORE (Queensland) (14:09): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister advise the Senate on how the announcement of the launch site in Victoria will benefit people in the Barwon region?


Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:10): The government are very pleased that, with the Victorian government, we have agreed to a launch site in Victoria, in the Barwon region. From July this year, about 5,000 Victorians with significant and profound disabilities, their families and their carers will have their needs assessed and will start to receive individual care and support packages under the NDIS. This is an additional investment of more than $190 million by the Commonwealth in the Geelong region—direct investment in providing better care and support for people with disability, their families and their carers.

This means people with a disability in the Barwon region will be assessed to receive NDIS individualised care and support packages; have decision-making power about their care and support, including choice of service provider; be assisted by local coordinators to help manage and deliver their support; and access a system they can easily navigate that will link them to community services. It is a very welcome agreement and we look forward to the trial being rolled out— (Time expired)


Senator MOORE (Queensland) (14:11): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister also advise the Senate on how the government is working with the community on the development of the NDIS?


Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:11): In developing the NDIS, the government has committed to engaging with people with disability, their carers and families, and the community more broadly. To involve those Australians most closely associated with disability, the government is funding the National Disability and Carers Alliance to hold a series of forums across the country. It means that people from all walks of life can help shape the detailed design of the scheme. We have also launched an online forum, NDIS Your Say, which asks for people's views on key questions about how the scheme should work.

Also, the government has established an advisory group to work closely with all governments to lay the foundations for an NDIS. Four expert groups have been appointed and the key elements of scheme design—choice and control, eligibility assessment, quality and safeguards, and workforce and sector capacity—will be a focus of their work. This will ensure a stronger and more effective NDIS for the future. (Time expired)