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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5226

Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (17:07): I sometimes wonder, when I hear the sorts of questions we have just heard, which is almost a repeat of what I heard here yesterday afternoon at a similar time, about the game playing that seems to be at the forefront of much of what those opposite seem intent on doing in this place. My question goes to a matter of substance. Sadly, under the leadership of the current Leader of the Opposition there has been a dismantling of hope in this country and a dismantling of a sense of the capacity for the elected officials of this country to transform and improve the lives of those who come after us. My question is seeking to put on the record the fact that DisabilityCare, which is significantly funded in this appropriation, will have a very powerful impact right around the country.

I want to refer to two things that relate to my own electorate. Firstly, the minister was scheduled to visit my electorate to attend a disability forum. We had to graciously accept her inability on that day because she had very important business in Queensland which was to sign up the Queensland government to DisabilityCare. I look forward to her imminent return to my community. I was very happy at that forum in regard to DisabilityCare that we were able to share as a community some of the very real challenges that are presenting for people who need this appropriation to be passed by this place and who need this change of policy and the funding attached to it to make it a live and real thing in our community. I also want to refer briefly to a salutary story. I was speaking to some constituents—Year 6 students from Terrigal Primary School, from Our Lady Star of the Sea primary school, from Holy Cross primary school and from St Patrick's primary school. I had four of my local schools visit in the week that disability care legislation was going through. I was able to make clear to them in a way that was not veiled in the negativity of the media the power of this place and the hope that lives in this place to transform the lives of ordinary Australians.

At that disability meeting, a mother stood up and explained what the capping of funds and the current structure really mean. There was not a soul in that place that day who could walk away without remembering this story. This mum has a son who has a life-shortening disability. For the last two years, despite multiple requests, she has been unable to get him a wheelchair so that he can move around in the community. There have been promises that it will arrive, but the promises are held out in the future. The fear now is that the special equipment that he needed will now no longer be suitable for him to use because he has grown. They are looking down the barrel of another two years of possible redress if the current system were maintained.

It is critical that we make this sort of change that the government is proposing. It is critical that this bill goes through, because these are not abstract dollars, abstracts ideas or abstract people. These are real Australians, real children, real families who need these very real dollars that we are prepared to invest in a better future for Australians. I am particularly interested in hearing from the minister about the redress to that situation. The fully-funded rollout of Disability Care Australia that was announced in this budget has given heart and hope to the people of my community. It is an authentic piece of work that will transform local lives. I would really like the minister to provide some more detailed information about the funding for the full rollout of disability care across the country, but, as a New South Welshwoman, I am particularly interested in your perspective on how it will transform the lives of people in New South Wales. In addition to changing the reality I have just described, this funding will improve the lives of people, families and carers who have had to manage disability over a long time—through very dark times in our country.

After I had described the situation to those local school students, I asked them whether that was a picture of a fair Australia. With one voice, those 12 year olds were able to say: 'No, that is not fair. It was not fair. What is this government going to do to make that fairness part of Australian culture?'