House debates

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Questions without Notice

National Disability Insurance Scheme

3:07 pm

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. I have dedicated my working life to the health of children. Children with development delay and other disabilities, including autism, require a developmental diagnosis to qualify for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Children in disadvantaged areas are waiting up to 14 months longer than children in other areas for an NDIS developmental diagnosis. Why?

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I'll ask the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme to add to my answer, but first I commend you on the work that you have been doing in that area over a lifetime. I know that area well and I know the high regard that you're held in, particularly in terms of the support you've given to families and paediatric support in your community. I understand the reason for the question today and your deep concern about these matters, and I share that concern. That's why we're providing the support to the National Disability Insurance Scheme to ensure they can address the very issues that you're raising in this place today so importantly, and I'll ask the minister to go into those details.

3:08 pm

Photo of Stuart RobertStuart Robert (Fadden, Liberal Party, Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme) Share this | | Hansard source

Thanks, PM. Let me also reinforce the words about Dr Freelander's long career of service. I make a number of points on this issue. First of all, when it comes to health diagnosis, we all understand that that is the responsibility of state health. We can say it is unacceptable in terms of length, but it is absolutely the responsibility of state health authorities. Having said that, a diagnosis is not required for access into the Early Childhood Early Intervention stream of the NDIS. That is quite clear in law and it is quite clear in practice.

In terms of access, yesterday's quarterly data showed that people turning up with children seeking early intervention through the early intervention pathways are getting an access decision in three days. You don't need a diagnosis to enter the NDIS. That is down from over 50 days in terms of people accessing a plan from access. It has dropped substantially down to 54 days. Anticipating a range of these issues, the Commonwealth leaned in on the second phase of the functional assessment trial, which will conclude this month. All going well with the results—and so far they are extraordinarily positive—the Commonwealth will go to market for a functional assessment partner and will introduce functional assessments from 1 July this year to quantify absolutely access to the scheme.

But recognising the member's key point, it is important to understand and it's important for parents and the nation to understand that you don't need a diagnosis to call an early childhood early intervention partner. The act does not require a diagnosis. I encourage all parents to get hold of the NDIS, go to the website, speak to your early childhood early intervention partner and get that early intervention as quickly as possible. The system is designed for it. Request to access is currently three days.