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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9299

Mrs ELLIOT (RichmondParliamentary Secretary for Trade) (18:35): I rise to speak on the national disability scheme and the difference it will make to those Australians with a disability and the care that they receive. The government is working towards a future where all Australian children and adults with disabilities lead lives of dignity and opportunity. That is why we are delivering the first stage of a national disability insurance scheme. It is now one year since the government released the Productivity Commission's report into disability care and support. The Productivity Commission recommended an NDIS be established to end what is essentially a very cruel lottery that many Australians with disabilities face when they try to access the care and support that they need.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme will start in Australia from July 2013 in up to four locations across the country. From mid-2013, about 10,000 people with significant and permanent disabilities will start to receive support. By July 2014, that figure will rise to 20,000 people. For the first time in our nation's history people with a significant and permanent disability will receive lifetime care and support, and that is regardless of how they acquired their disabilities.

There are so many people right around the country who have worked for so long to see a national disability scheme in place. Under an NDIS, people with a disability will have their individual needs assessed and they will be able to have much greater choice over the standard and quality of care that they receive. It is a scheme that will deliver Australians with disabilities the services they need when they need them.

Indeed, Australians with a disability and their families and carers have waited long enough. We must act, and the government is acting, to make the NDIS real. The fact is that everyone knows someone who struggles with a disability. Everyone knows a family that struggles to find care for their family member who has a disability. It is an issue that many locals continue to raise regularly with me.

We also note that currently there are vast differences in the care that people get. It often depends on where they live. Of course, that is grossly unfair for those living in regional and rural Australia. When people talk about the care that they receive today, they often say that it can be rationed, that not everybody gets care and that many people do not get enough care. We want to see a national disability scheme make a difference to people with disabilities right around our nation, in every state, territory, suburb and, indeed, town—particularly, as I say, for those from rural and regional areas such as in my electorate.

The government is getting on with the job of building an NDIS, and we are working with the states and territories through COAG. We have set up the Select Council on Disability Reform of treasurers and disability ministers from around the country. This is the appropriate forum to progress this work because states and territories have primary responsibility for the care and support of people with disabilities. We do not want people with disabilities to have to wait any longer. We do not need another committee. We cannot let anything delay the NDIS. This is a long-overdue reform that we are delivering on and we cannot have it delayed. An NDIS will give all Australians with significant disability the peace of mind to know that their care and support needs will be addressed no matter where they may live or how they acquired their disability.

It is intended that the NDIS will produce the following outcomes for people with disability: the individualised care and support that they need over their lifetime; more choice and control in their lives through a person centred, self-directed approach to service delivery, with that individualised funding; and disability care and support that is more accessible and which will meet nationally consistent standards. So it is certainly very wide ranging.

At its heart, the NDIS is all about our nation working towards giving people with disabilities a much better future—more care, more support and more choice about how they run their lives. It is a Labor government that is delivering upon this, and we are very proud to be delivering this, particularly when you look at the history of the reforms of Labor governments of which we have seen so many that have made a major difference to the lives of people right across this country.

If we look over the past decades at where Labor governments have delivered, in 1907, it was a minimum wage; in 1909, an age pension; in 1994, Medicare, one of the greatest reforms we have seen in this country; in 1992, a superannuation scheme; and, in 2010, paid parental leave. Now, we are building a National Disability Insurance Scheme. It is another major reform by a Labor government to improve the lives of thousands of Australians. It is a very long overdue reform that many people throughout this country have called for for a long period of time, and we want to do it by working with the community, working with the states and working through COAG to deliver this real reform. This is an idea whose time has come. We have to move forward with this. We cannot have further committees to hold this up. We need to all work together to get an outcome that actually delivers for Australians right across the country. Those Australians who have a disability and their families and carers need to have this reform in place.