Disability (National Disability Insurance Scheme Transition) Amendment Bill 2019 – Second Reading

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Ms ADDISON (Wendouree) (14:24:46): I would like to start by thanking the Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, his office and the department for the work that has gone into this bill.

I welcome the opportunity to speak in support of the Disability (National Disability Insurance Scheme Transition) Amendment Bill 2019. This bill is about ensuring quality and safety as we transition to the NDIS and making sure there are no reductions in standards in the delivery of care and services for all Victorians with a disability.

I am pleased that there has been consultation with the sector through the disability act advisory group, comprising of disability advocates and representatives of disability service providers and carers. It is this consultation that has informed the development of the bill.

There has also been broad stakeholder support for reforms in the bill as evidenced through public consultation, written submissions and public stakeholder expressions of support. There was also further consultation undertaken through the targeted consultation on the exposure draft of the bill. So this is a bill for which we have very much gone out to the sector and made sure that this is what is going to be in their best interests.

I really wish to commend the Gillard Labor government for the introduction of the national disability insurance scheme in 2013. Former Prime Minister Gillard is to be admired for the introduction of the NDIS, which fundamentally changes the funding of disability services in Australia.

The NDIS is a social welfare scheme that clearly reflects our Labor values and our commitment to fairness, dignity and respect for all Australians. The NDIS will transform the lives of so many and will make our nation all the better. I thank Julia Gillard for introducing the significant social change that the NDIS will bring. Prime Minister Gillard said in June 2013 in the federal Parliament:

This is a reform whose time has come, a reform that will deliver significant benefits to people with disabilities, to their carers and to their families and to the wider Australian community.

Six years on it is important that we ensure that this occurs.

Disability is a policy area that I have a great interest in and a passion for. My mum, Trudie Dickinson, dedicated her working life to people living with a disability in Ballarat in western Victoria for almost 50 years. As a physiotherapist, my mum treated children and adults with severe mental and physical disabilities with the greatest care, respect and empathy. She worked across the disability sector, including at the Spastic Society of Victoria, now Scope, Playhouse Therapy and Pinarc Disability Support. She was always working closely with families, carers, teachers and allied health workers, including speech therapists and occupational therapists. Every patient was given the highest quality of therapy, care and support, as they should be.

I am proud that she championed early intervention and welcomed new approaches to therapy from around the world, including from the Peto Institute in Budapest, Hungary, which she visited to learn their approaches to conductive education therapy, which supports children with cerebral palsy to live more independent lives.

It is the countless people like my mum who are often the unsung heroes of our communities—selfless people who work tirelessly to get better outcomes for people that others may choose not to see or whose challenges are considered too difficult or even impossible.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank the incredible disability workforce we have in Ballarat, including but not limited to those at McCallum Disability Services, Pinarc Disability Support, Ballarat Specialist School and the Karden Disability Support Foundation. To all the people who provide therapy services, education support, social work, case management, adult day programs, recreation, advocacy, support groups, respite, community education and early childhood programs: thank you for the work that you do.

On 1 July 2019, when Victoria takes another step towards the national arrangements, we must make sure that people with a disability and providers are supported so that no-one falls through the gaps. When it is rolled out the national disability insurance scheme will provide about 460 000 Australians aged under 65 who have permanent and significant disability with funding for support and services.

In Victoria, at full scheme, the NDIS will provide funding to around 105 000 Victorians with a disability, Victorians who will now be able to access and exercise more choice and control over the services and supports they receive. This will give individuals greater autonomy to address their personal needs and care. That is why this bill is important—because it contains a series of technical amendments which are required to allow for the transition of quality and safeguards to the new NDIS.

The reason I am supporting the bill is because this bill will give effect to the new national quality standards and safeguarding arrangements for Victoria. It will reduce duplication of regulatory requirements in the full scheme of the NDIS for disability services. It is going to do this by providing a method for deregistering providers that are no longer receiving funding in Victoria so that they are not subject to two sets of compliance regime, which certainly helps in streamlining services.

I am also supporting this bill because it will establish a process to authorise the use of restrictive practices by registered NDIS providers, modelled on the existing state authorisation framework. It will provide a smooth transition, which we all want. We want this transition to be smooth but without diminishing very important protections.

Finally, this bill will further align the rights of specialist disability accommodation residents with those of tenants in mainstream housing, which is very, very important.

Just like the quality standards we are safeguarding in this bill, the Andrews Labor government is continually supporting Victorians living with a disability. Recently I was pleased to join with the Minister for Mental Health to announce $2.3 million over two years for Ballarat Health Services and for Uniting, a leading community service provider, to deliver support to locals who have significant, enduring psychosocial disability but cannot yet access the NDIS or are ineligible. Because that is what the Andrews Labor government does—it steps in to make sure that people living in my community in Ballarat and across Victoria with severe mental illness and psychosocial disabilities do not fall through the cracks of the NDIS.

Unfortunately thousands of Victorians have been delayed access to the NDIS with the federal government’s rollout, creating unfair stress for individuals, carers and families.

The Andrews Labor government has provided the sector with a range of supports for transition to the NDIS through the Victorian Disability Advocacy Futures Grants program. For example, Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service has received funding. Also, there are other ways that the Andrews Labor government is supporting people with disabilities in Ballarat, like through the Victorian disability self-help grants. I am very pleased that the Ballarat Amputee Group has received $1840 in funding, the Ballarat Autism Network received $4500 in funding and the Ballarat Stroke Support Group received $5000. These are examples of how the Andrews Labor government is leading the way in supporting people with a disability as we fight for a fairer, high-quality NDIS.

However, sadly, the NDIS is not delivering for many in my community. I have learned firsthand from parents and carers who contact my office and people I meet with that too many Victorians are being denied the support they deserve because the Morrison federal government has mismanaged the NDIS. I have spoken to family members who are at breaking point, so frustrated with the system that is not providing for their loved ones. They have shared with me their stories of delays, difficulties, disappointment and even despair. It is not good enough.

In conclusion, it is our shared responsibility to ensure the NDIS does what it was designed to do— fund disability support and provide funding based on a person’s individual needs and goals. This is what it was originally designed for. That is why we need to ensure that the NDIS delivers what it was established to do by the Gillard Labor government in 2013.

Therefore I commend the Disability (National Disability Insurance Scheme Transition) Amendment Bill 2019, which will ensure safety and quality as we transition as well as maintain standards in the delivery of care and services.


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