House debates

Monday, 21 October 2019


National Disability Insurance Scheme

4:21 pm

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme) Share this | | Hansard source

After 170 days, the government has finally appointed a CEO for the NDIA—thanks to political pressure from people with disabilities, their advocates and Labor. The jury's out on new CEO; some in the sector describe his best qualification as 'managerial digital wonk'. We do wait for him to detail any real lived experience of disability, but we remain positive. We need to actually start fixing the neglect, negligence and red tape suffocating the vital national project which is the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It doesn't start with P&L spreadsheets, corporate KPIs, managerial mumbo jumbo or millions of dollars to private consultancies of well-known companies. It starts with a focus back on people with disability.

This is what Labor has been doing since the election. I've visited six states and territories, and held 20 disability forums and events. And I have discovered there tend to be two types of participants—the two Davids—of the scheme that I have had the privilege to meet. For David Carey in Melbourne the scheme has lived up to its original promise. But then there are people like David Morrell, who I met in Launceston. David Morrell is severely vision impaired; he carries a cane. To get by in daily life he needs a text-to-voice electronic document reader. Due to a shortage of NDIS accredited allied health professionals in Tasmania, there's no-one who can give him the expert approval that the agency needs to give David the money to get his device. After months of torturous negotiation, he's now getting his own money together to fly to the mainland. This isn't good enough.