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Tuesday, 2 April 2019
Page: 14502


Ms McBRIDE (Dobell) (17:50): I second the amendment. I rise to support the amendment moved by the member for Barton and shadow minister for families and social services. This bill amends the NDIS Act to provide a legislative framework for requiring that the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission maintains a national worker screening database for the NDIS. Whilst we welcome the measure, it is critical that this bill notes the importance of the royal commission into violence against and abuse of those living with disability. Tonight I acknowledge my friend and colleague Liesl Tesch from the New South Wales parliament, who is also a wheelchair user. Liesl is a powerful advocate for people with disability in our community and across Australia. These are her words: 'The NDIS was designed to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, not to create further gaps and further fears and greater inconsistency in the nondelivery of services that allow people with disabilities access and inclusion within Australian communities.' Liesl and I regularly share conversations in our professional world about individual cases of neglect and gaps in delivery that impact on people with disability across the Central Coast.

Last week we met with VOICCD, a local disability advocacy group speaking up for and supporting people with disability in our community. The clear message we have heard is of the need to improve every aspect of the NDIS—to fund, not to cut budgets, to improve the lives of people living with disability, is paramount. As Liesl says, 'People with disability need to know that our support workers and carers are absolutely trustworthy.' In my office on the New South Wales Central Coast we have been contacted by and have worked closely with 300 people who have had problems with the transition to the NDIS and with their plans. We try to work with the agency to resolve these issues. We, as Australians living with and without disabilities, need to know that a diverse cross-section of people with disability have a very clear voice in the NDIS and in the royal commission into violence against and abuse and neglect of people with disability. We want them to be active, included and full participants in Australian society. It is so critical to people in our community living with disability.

I am so pleased to support the amendment moved by the member for Barton and I'm very pleased to acknowledge the powerful advocacy of Liesl Tesch. Liesl is a role model for all of us on the Central Coast and across Australia. Liesl is a former teacher, a Paralympic gold medallist and a New South Wales state parliament member for the Labor Party. We need more people like Liesl representing our diverse community, our inclusive community, so that we can be a community where everybody can fully participate, an inclusive community that is strong and diverse and reflects the whole of our community. Liesl, you are an inspiration to all of us. It is such a privilege to consider you a friend and a colleague. I am so pleased that you could be here today in the federal parliament to hear this important debate.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak to the House today about this critical issue in our community. I want to acknowledge and recognise the work of our shadow minister, the member for Barton, who has the heart, the empathy, the compassion and the know-how to change this. It must be better. It matters, and we must make a difference. Thank you.