Tuesday, 27 November 2012
National Disability Insurance Scheme
Numerous members of this House have risen in support of the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme and I would like to recommit, as I have to Ryan residents, to its implementation. I recently attended two DisbiliTEAs in October, in Chapel Hill and Mitchelton, where constituents reaffirmed their support for the NDIS and more importantly wanted to ensure that the scheme is not taken off the national agenda. I particularly want to thank Linda Cartmill and Help Enterprises hospitality training centre respectively for arranging these events and for their dedication to the NDIS.
Many members in recent weeks have been receiving correspondence from constituents sharing their stories about either themselves or family members living with a disability. I have received emails about how tough it is to have a wife with polio or a child with cerebral palsy, autism or speech-language impairment to name just some examples. One of these families is Karyn and Gerard Reardon of Toowong in my electorate. Their son Flyn has a rare chromosome mutation disorder with symptomatic effects similar to trisomy-21 or Turner's syndrome. Flyn has only been able to see the variety of specialists required since birth—paediatric physiotherapists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists—because his parents are fortunate enough to earn incomes adequate to provide for their child. The only other person in the world with a similar chromosomal mutation lives in Norway. Karyn tells me that they are supported extremely well by the Norwegian government. The services they can access are scattered across federal and state programs or through state education. This creates confusion for Karyn and Gerard, and means that Australians children with disabilities do not receive the support they deserve. Similarly, parents at the Glenleighden School, which caters for children with primary language disorder, are constantly asking for support from the federal government and being rejected.
At present Australians with disabilities face a very frightening situation that, when they turn 65, the access they have to appropriate support through a home and community care package will be reduced. This is because funding and management of the HACC package changes from their state government to the federal Department of Health and Ageing and there is not necessarily consistency between the two. This problem further illustrates that no two states provide the same services if you have a disability. If you cross a state border there is no certainty about whether you will be better or worse off. This highlights the crucial importance of the NDIS being a national program.
The coalition has maintained its support for the NDIS and it is important that we all work together to get this right. The coalition has proposed the establishment of a joint parliamentary committee chaired by both sides of politics to oversee its implementation. This would not only provide a mechanism for bipartisanship but also serve as a forum where questions of design, implementation, timetable, eligibility and a funding model could be raised and worked through. To date the Prime Minister has rejected our proposal and, disappointingly, in the Senate in June the government and the Greens voted against the establishment of the committee. Unfortunately to date there has been little detail provided by the government as to how individuals will be assessed, who will be eligible and what support services will be provided. We have talked the talk for long enough and now is the time for some real action.