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Tuesday, 19 March 2013
Page: 2004

Senator URQUHART (Tasmania) (13:38): I rise to make a short contribution to this debate on the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill 2013. This reform will go down as one of the great social policy achievements in our country. When fully implemented, it will provide an individual care and support package to all Australians living with a disability, and support that is tailored to their needs, no matter where they live or how they acquired their disability. It is going to be a major change to how our community works with people with a disability, their families and their carers. It is a change that will be implemented through comprehensive trials across the country.

Tasmania will participate in a trial for about 1,000 15-to-24 year olds, starting from July this year. This trial will target assisting people make the transition from school based support to work or higher education, while also keeping them engaged in their communities. It will work with young people and their families, to plan and arrange the supports needed that will help them in their everyday life. Importantly, at the heart of the trial is a recognition of the unique needs of each individual, their family and their community.

I have had the pleasure of meeting with many Tasmanians to discuss how the NDIS will benefit and impact their lives. One such occasion was at a DisabiliTEA at Devonfield Enterprises in Devonport last year. Across the country, the Every Australian Counts campaign organised these events to bring people together to support the campaign for the NDIS. I was lucky enough to be able to help serve the lunches at the Devonfield DisabiliTEA and speak with those gathered.

Many of those in the room were the parents of people with a disability who regularly use Devonfield's services. The parents displayed an overwhelming sense of relief at the prospect of the NDIS. They were getting old and knew that they would not be able to care for their children forever. In the eyes of a mother, your children are always 'your kids,' regardless of how old they get, and you love them and wish them every happiness in the world. The mums that I spoke to were also full of so much excitement about the opportunities that the NDIS package will provide for their child. Two emotions really encapsulate the purpose of the NDIS: relief that the government is stepping up to the plate; and excitement for the possibilities that this will unleash.

The support of organisations like Devonfield has been crucial for the progress of this reform. The services at Devonfield are wide and varied. They provide a range of training and employment services, as well as day-support services and accommodation for over 200 people with a wide range of disabilities. It is at places like Devonfield that people with a disability learn the skills and build the confidence they need to have fulfilling careers and make positive contributions to their community. They have recognised the potential for their organisation and for their clients through embracing the NDIS, as did the parents and people with a disability who I spoke to at the DisabiliTEA lunch.

The push for the NDIS has really united the Australian community, leading to bipartisan support in this place. However, I am deeply concerned by recent remarks by the conservative Institute of Public Affairs, which, in consultation with those opposite about potential budget cuts, have advocated that the first stage of the NDIS be cancelled and the public servants implementing the NDIS be sacked. They said that they had received positive support from senior members of the opposition. I hope not.

The Australian people expect the NDIS to be delivered from July this year. This reform has been many years in the making and Labor is committed to seeing it through. Australians should be very concerned by the IPA hit list. The case for this reform has been won. It has been led by tens of thousands of Australians and the Every Australian Counts campaign. Those people can be assured that Labor is fully committed to delivering the NDIS and I commend the bill to the Senate.