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Monday, 2 May 2016
Page: 4037

Ms HENDERSON (Corangamite) (18:31): It is a wonderful electorate, thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker Broadbent. You should have come and visited. It is my great pleasure to speak on the National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment Bill. I am going to speak only for a couple of minutes, but I just wanted to reiterate my support for this bill. We know that the bill is going to vary the number of board members and change some quorum requirements. In terms of the changes that have been made—and we are very pleased it has bipartisan support—the bill reiterates the full commitment of the government to rolling out the NDIS.

As the member for Corangamite I am so incredibly proud of the Barwon trial rollout of the NDIS. Some 5,000 participants are now being supported under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We are also incredibly proud to be the home of the National Disability Insurance Agency. The headquarters are very much up and running, and a tender is underway at the moment to build a brand-new building to house the NDIS headquarters. There will also be some 400 employees from the Department of Human Services in that same building. So we are seeing an incredible change in our landscape in the Geelong and Corangamite regions as such an important agency as the NDIA establishes itself and grows there.

As we have heard in this debate, the full rollout is now underway in a number of states—New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania. Bilateral agreements have been signed. Across Victoria, 105,000 people will now receive the individual support they need, including the people of Golden Plains, who, regrettably, were excluded from the Barwon trial, under the previous government. I am very pleased that the people of Golden Plains will now be coming into the full rollout as of 1 July 2017.

The NDIS is an incredible creator of jobs and opportunity, as well as transforming the lives of those with a disability and the lives of their families. The NDIS headquarters in Geelong alone is employing over 270 people, with the number of jobs rising to well over 350 by July 2017. Three hundred and thirty of these employees will be based in Geelong. There are also 160 people currently working in the Geelong Barwon trial site office and the Colac Barwon trial office. So we are seeing an incredible commitment from our government for the NDIS, with a lot of bipartisan support of course, across the Geelong and Corangamite regions.

I was at the great football match on Saturday night, when Geelong absolutely smashed the Gold Coast. It was a great game. One of the guest speakers at that game was an incredibly impressive man by the name of Richard Colman, a Paralympian. Richard is in a wheelchair. He was such an inspiration. He talked about the importance of Geelong as a centre of excellence for disability, saying, 'I don't want to be known as someone with a disability who can do ordinary things; I want to be known as someone with a disability who can do extraordinary things.' And he certainly is doing extraordinary things. It is wonderful to see that level of passion and energy and to see people like Richard Colman achieving so magnificently on the world stage.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the opening of the Eastern Hub. It is a $6.5 million facility funded in part by Karingal and by the previous state Liberal government, with a lot of philanthropic support as well. It is a magnificent building. It is a community hub. It is also a hub for disability services. The level of commitment, excitement and investment that we are seeing from the likes of Karingal and St Laurence and the other disability service providers across our region is wonderful.

That is not to say that there are not still some challenges. For example, Pathways provide services for those with a mental illness, and they have told me that they have concerns about the funding model in relation to whether payment for clinicians and those who work with people with a mental illness, who are people with a permanent disability as defined under the NDIS, falls under the funding model. I have absolutely committed to assisting Pathways navigate some of the complexities involved in the current costings of the NDIS. That said, the NDIS is a wonderful scheme. It will be $22 billion commitment when it is fully rolled out.

I fully support and commend this legislation to the House. As I said, I am incredibly proud to represent the region which is the home of the National Disability Insurance Agency—a fine government agency making an incredible difference to our region, to those with a disability and to their families.