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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9306

Ms SAFFIN (Page) (19:06): I am pleased that we as a nation are embarking on the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It is something that has long been needed and it is something that the government has committed itself to. It has done a lot of the work necessary to get to the stage where we are undergoing trials.

I have listened very carefully to members on all sides talk here. I was just listening to the honourable member for Gippsland saying that we need to work together to effect groundbreaking reform. We already have the groundbreaking reform. A lot of the policy work has already been done. Sure, there is a lot of work to be done to make sure that the scheme is fully implemented and will work, but a lot of the policy work is done. It needs all of us to support it 100 per cent to make sure that we get there. If there are any issues to be worked out, and there will be, we need to work them out in a collegiate way so that as a nation, through this parliament, we are 100 per cent behind all of the people who need the services.

I want to talk a little bit about what the NDIS will bring and some of the work that I have been doing in my electorate on this issue. Under an NDIS, as we call it, people will for the first time be assessed to receive individualised care and support packages. That is something I have been advocating for a couple of decades in the work that I have done in the community and when I worked in the community sector. Your needs should not be dependent on a model of service. It is about the service you need as an individual. We have to make sure that those services are tailored to fit you and not the other way around. Also, it is about people having the power to make decisions about their care and support, including choosing their service provider. Of course, this is what it is about. This is the ideal. I know that in country areas it is sometimes going to be a bit of a challenge to work all of that out, but that is what we will work towards. We will work towards it and we will get there. People will be assisted by local coordinators to help manage and deliver the support, and access a system they can easily navigate which will link them to mainstream services. These are really important components of what the NDIS will be about.

In my area last year, in October 2011, I was speaking at RED Inc: Realising Every Dream. That is a local NGO run by the wonderful Jenny London. What was said there was that getting this work done quickly is an essential step towards delivering the kind of care and support that is needed. It is what people with disability, their carers and families rightly expect of us. It is what we have to get on with, and it is what the government has got on with. I would like to put on record my thanks for the then parliamentary secretary who had disability in his portfolio, Bill Shorten. It was something that he took up when he was in that portfolio area. He was determined that it was something that we would work towards. It is something that a whole lot of us had worked on, but it was really good to be in government and be able to work on it.

In my electorate of Page, the National Disability Insurance Scheme means better support for people with disability, it means people with disability having a say in how they are supported and it means making sure that support reaches those who need it. It also means breaking down barriers to schooling, work and community life.

It would be nice if we could come in here and talk about disability issues in a really positive way. I read the private member's motion, and I thought: 'There's always an edge and barb. Why don't we just get on and work with each other to make sure that people with disability and people in the sector are not subjected to the ongoing unpleasantness?' Commonwealth funding for disability in fact went backwards under the last federal government. I do not want to drag all of this up, but it is a reality. I would like to see the opposition commit totally to the NDIS. I am not saying that the opposition should do so without caveats and qualifications, because we all have things like that which we insist on, but let us commit to it and just get on and make it happen.