House debates

Wednesday, 30 March 2022


National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Participant Service Guarantee and Other Measures) Bill 2021; Second Reading

4:26 pm

Photo of Peta MurphyPeta Murphy (Dunkley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move the amendment circulated in Mr Shorten's name:

That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

"whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House calls on the Government to:

(1) immediately stop the cuts to NDIS participant plans; and

(2) commit to full transparency around scheme costs".

We heard some big words in the Treasurer's budget speech last night, with the outrageous suggestion that under the Morrison-Joyce government the NDIS is always fully funded. We know that that proposition can be taken with a grain of salt. But what I want to talk about—and it is squarely in the middle of this second reading amendment—are the cuts to people's plans that are happening daily and that you can't see in the budget papers but that anyone who actually listens to their constituents surely must know are happening—the cuts like those to the NDIS plan of a young autistic man in my electorate, who is about 21. He has mental health problems. He has problems interacting with other people. His father came to talk to me at a coffee catch-up I had at Frankie's Cafe in Carrum Downs recently to tell me that when his son was in high school his life was going to a special school and then coming home and going into his bedroom and just sitting there at the computer screen until his parents made him come out to eat dinner, and then he would go back in and look at the computer screen again. He couldn't really have a conversation, even with his own family, and he was struggling to interact with other young people around him because of his disability. And the NDIS was a godsend, as the Gillard government always intended it to be.

Under the plan he had with the NDIS, this young man got to access not just social workers and support workers for when he was in the community but also counselling. He got to access psychologists, counsellors and allied health professionals, who helped him to know himself, to get confidence and to be able to interact. As his father said to me, the difference was like night and day. He not only was able to interact at school but would come home and talk to his parents about his day—not hide in his bedroom because he just didn't know how to handle social interactions. He got a job with a disability employment service in a warehouse and was so proud of himself.

So you can imagine the reaction of this young man's family when the NDIS plan for him was cut because he was doing so well, surely he didn't need any of these services that had given him that capacity to be able to do so well. That was the really skewed logic that was used. What happens when you have a young man whose access to counselling, social workers and people who can take him and work with him at the disability employment service is taken away from his NDIS plan because, under this Morrison government, that's the way the cuts that you can't see in the budget happen? What happens to this young man? He retreats back into his bedroom. His life becomes narrower and darker yet again.

The cuts to NDIS participant plans hurt NDIS participants and hurt their families. I received an email today at 2.08 pm, while we were in question time. Should anyone on the government benches think that this is not a real issue that is really happening to people in our communities, I received an email at 2.08 pm and I haven't had the chance to speak to the woman who emailed me, so I won't use her name, but I will read out the email:

'Hi, Peta. I just wanted to share my experience with you regarding what was supposed to be a routine NDIS review for my daughters. I have been emailing back and forth with the local area coordinator (for context, every review has been a different LAC) about the girls' upcoming expiry of their plans and what to do for their next plans. I had said I was looking to just roll them over for 24 months, and I was happy with both of their plans at this stage because their needs hadn't greatly changed. I was told that that just wouldn't be possible unless I had reports to back up a rollover. So I got what reports I was able to and I forwarded them to the LAC. I also sent her a statement about each girl, their disabilities and needs, and what they had been doing with their last plan. At this stage, the LAC said this was fine and she would look to roll over both plans. Then I got a phone call saying we needed to set up a phone plan to update the girls' details because the details were three years old'—

One would have thought the details of young girls who live with their family would have been pretty easy for the local area coordinators to be able to understand—

'So I did that, only to be ambushed and told that their swimming would no longer be funded, even though I provided evidence about the physical issues they both had. Then I was told my older daughter, Isabella, who has Down syndrome and autism level 3, support hours would most likely not be funded as the NDIS just wouldn't go for that many hours'—

She has Down syndrome and autism level 3 and had been receiving those support hours previously. My constituent goes on:

'I explained that I work two days a week. She can't be left alone at all, and in school holidays she obviously needs full-day support. The LAC said, "Why can't you just put her in a holiday program?" I found it quite extraordinary that there was a lack of understanding of the limited places in programs, or the fact that they don't run all day, or the fact that the activities are not always suited to all disabilities. I have to say this was a very different experience to every other NDIS review I have ever had, and I have to ask: what's changed? This felt like an ambush and me having to justify my girls' needs, which is just disgusting.'

What has changed since the NDIS was introduced in a nation-changing and life-changing reform by the former Labor government? Well, what has changed is the government. What has changed is the actual genuine attitude to maintaining and rolling out a program that is there to make the lives of people who have disabilities and their families and loved ones just that bit easier. After nine long years of a Morrison-Joyce government we have seen the creeping and unjustified attacks on NDIS participant plans through a lack of transparency and through cuts to programs that have helped people have the life that they deserve all under the guise of flowery rhetoric and the thumping of tables in speeches for budgets about fully funding the NDIS. It is not just not fully funded; it is not being run properly for the people that need it.

There are 500,000 Australians on the NDIS, but under this Morrison government their attitude is that there are too many people with a disability getting this help and that it costs too much to care for them, and that is not right. There is an economic impact of the NDIS for every Australian, for every community. The NDIS employs more than 270,000 people in over 20 different occupations, and it contributes to the employment of tens of thousands more workers indirectly.

In one of the final opportunities I will probably have to speak on something as important as the NDIS in this chamber what I want to give to my community is this message: I will always fight for you and your access to this life-changing, truly reformative scheme, and I will always fight for this life-changing and truly reformative scheme to be as strong as it was always intended to be and that it needs to be for you. The way that you can guarantee that you will have an NDIS that is not just fully funded but that is transparent and that is administered by a minister and a government that care more about people's lives than cutting budgets is to vote for Albanese Labor government at the upcoming election.

Photo of Steve GeorganasSteve Georganas (Adelaide, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Is the amendment seconded?

An honourable member: I second the amendment, and I reserve my right to speak.

The original question was that this bill be now read a second time. To this the honourable member for Dunkley has moved as an amendment that all words after 'That' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. If it suits the House, I will state the question in the form that the amendment be disagreed to.

4:37 pm

Photo of Kate ThwaitesKate Thwaites (Jagajaga, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

There is absolutely no doubt that the NDIS is not functioning as it should under this Morrison government. There are too many people who are tied up in red tape, who are tied up in reviews and who ultimately end up with decisions that they don't understand and that leave them without the supports they should have. In fact, the latest NDIS quarterly report shows the average NDIS plan budget fell by four per cent in 2021 to about $68,000. Before that, the average plan had, in fact, been increasing each year since 2018. This is significant. This number represents what the member for Dunkley was just talking about and what so many of us are hearing from people in our communities—that plans are being cut, that supports are being cut. It seems to be a case of cuts by stealth, of independent assessments by stealth. Independent assessments that the disability community fought so hard against and which this government said were no longer on the table seem to be happening by stealth, and the impact of that is serious for people who are participating in the NDIS, for their families, for their carers and for the people who work with them.

I have a number of wonderful disability service providers in my electorate, and one of them recently invited me to visit. Araluen provide a range of disability services, but I went to meet with them and with two families who use their services for supported independent living. It was a heartbreaking meeting for me. This was just a couple of weeks ago. I had to sit in a room with families who were crying about the lack of support that was being offered to their children with disability under the NDIS. These parents are lying awake at night wondering what the future is for their children. This is the very thing the NDIS was put in place to end, the very thing a Labor government created the NDIS to do—to make sure that families and that people with disability know that they have a good future, to make sure they get the supports that are reasonable and necessary for a good life, and that is not what is happening under this government.

In this meeting I met with a mother who is in her 70s. She has heart issues and an adult son with extremely complex support requirements. His behaviour means he causes significant injuries to himself and to staff. There is a need to ensure his safety in the community because he can display unpredictable and dangerous behaviour, particularly on or around roads, that could lead to significant injury to him or to others. Because of this behaviour, Araluen, the service provider, introduced 2:1 care for this young man during the day. That was not initially part of his NDIS plan but it was their assessment that that was what is needed, and in fact, it was what he needed to be able to be safe and for the people around him to be safe. They submitted multiple incident reports to the NDIA about the impacts of his behaviour when he did not have that 2:1 care in place. They asked for a review and for extra funding support. But instead of getting that extra support, what happened was the NDIS came back to them and, in fact, cut the existing supported independent living funding in his plan. So rather than raising it, as was needed for his care, they actually cut his existing funding. Aspects of his budget were cut by just over $41,000. That is a really significant cut and it has had a significant impact on his life and on the life of his family. Araluen are still out of pocket providing him with this higher level of care, but the worry is that that now his NDIS package will be eaten up before it comes to the end of its lifespan and he will be left with no funding for supports. This is what his mother, in her 70s, is lying awake at night thinking about—that her son is going to run out of funding and have no funding for supports. This is a disgrace and it is on this government.

Another mother I met with during this meeting was just about to take her very first holiday in years and years. She has an adult daughter with severe autism, extreme sensory impairment and self-injurious behaviours which are a significant risk to her health and safety and possibly to those she lives with. She lives in a group home run by Araluen. Unfortunately, in light of her behaviours, she was still struggling in this group home. Araluen put extra support around her, but her behaviours meant she felt quite territorial within her home environment, especially with the bathroom and toilet. She was acting aggressively towards other residents and staff. This was dangerous for the staff and it also meant that other residents were being traumatised and were feeling stressed. So, again, Araluen took it on themselves to try and fix this complex problem. They invested hours of extra support but found that did not work, so they moved this young woman to a house by herself. At that point, they saw an immediate change and de-escalation of the behaviours of concern, and the housemates, who had been feeling attacked and traumatised by her behaviour, also started to improve their behaviour.

In early June 2021, Araluen submitted on behalf of this young woman an urgent request of the NDIS for a change of circumstances and for a review of her supported independent living. Despite ongoing emails for a response, they did not get a planning meeting until November 2021. So after an urgent request in June 2021, they got a meeting in November 2021. They put all the evidence in front of the NDIS at that meeting. The planner agreed that it was an urgent and serious case and that it should be escalated and approved in two weeks. That was in November 2021. Not two weeks later but in January 2022, they heard back from the NDIS and, again, instead of extra support, what happened for this young woman was the funding she received was less than half of her previously approved support for independent living. So, again, not only did they not approve the increased funding that had been shown to be necessary for this woman's safety and for others around her, they approved less than half of her previous funding. Again, this leaves this family in an incredibly difficult position, where they don't know what their daughter's future is going to be.

The NDIS is a life-changing scheme. It should be life-changing for all participants in the scheme, but under this government it is not operating as it should. Too many people are having their plans cut. Too many people are being caught up in meetings where they don't understand what's going on or where they don't understand what they are being asked for. Too many people tell me that they take evidence to the agency and it's not taken into account when they are having their plans built or reviewed. I have had a number of parents come to me and say their experience is that they find themselves halfway through a phone conversation with someone from the agency when they suddenly say, 'Hold on, is this a planning meeting?' They didn't even realise that was what was going on—that's how poor the communication coming out of the NDIS is at the moment.

When I am hearing this every day from constituents in my community, when others on this side of the chamber and, I am sure, on the other side of the chamber are hearing this every day from constituents in their community, it tells us that the NDIS is not working as it should, and that is on this Morrison government. This Morrison government has not supported the NDIS as it should, and it is not supporting people with disability to have the supports they should—reasonable and necessary supports that enable them to lead a life that is good and that enable them to be a part of our community. NDIS and the benefits it brings are good for all of us. They are good for all of us, our whole community, and this government just does not get that. Well, Labor gets it. We are the government that introduced the NDIS. Labor is the party that built the NDIS. We are the party that will fix the NDIS and we are the party that will always back the NDIS.

4:46 pm

Photo of Rebekha SharkieRebekha Sharkie (Mayo, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise in support of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Participant Service Guarantee and Other Measures) Bill 2021. One in five Australians live with a disability, and I remain committed to supporting the NDIS. I believe it is one of our most significant social policies in Australia today. This does not mean the NDIS is perfect; it is far from it. I will speak to those concerns I have later.

The genesis of this bill before us was the 2019 review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act commonly known as the Tune review. It recommended changes to the NDIS to remove red tape and improve the experience and outcomes of people living with disability interacting with the NDIS. I have heard from several of my constituents and peak bodies representing people living with disability regarding improvements to the bill. I thank JFA Purple Orange and People with Disability Australia for the engagement in particular. The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations and other organisations identified that there was much to support in this bill, but crucial amendments were sought.

I am therefore pleased that the government's amendments to the bill now place limitations on the proposed powers of the CEO to vary a participant's plan in primary legislation, and move section 14 rule-making powers regarding payments to individuals to category A rules, requiring consultation with states and territories. Concerns re impacts on the eligibility of people with psychosocial disability and other fluctuating, episodic conditions have also, I am informed, been resolved by amendments based on further consultation of peak bodies representing people with a disability.

I must put on the record, though, that this has been a long and drawn-out process, and many people who have an NDIS package were deeply anxious that the original bill would have given extraordinary powers to the CEO, and that the CEO could and possibly would wholesale cut and change plans. I am also aware that the NDIS 2021-22 quarter 2 report shows that the average plan value per participant has dropped by four per cent between 2020 and 2021. Reportedly this means that 34 per cent of participants have seen cuts of more than five per cent of their budgets in the second half of last year. This is 10 per cent more participants who've experienced a cut of such significance during 2019-20.

I've raised concerns with the government on behalf of my constituents regarding proposed independent assessments under the NDIS and was relieved that this was taken off the table. But it never should have been on the table in the first place. I think there's enormous fear in the community every time a piece of NDIS legislation comes into this place. That's because people are seeing salami cuts to their packages over and over again, and I was listening to the speeches of previous members regarding this.

Further, I understand that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has confirmed that in the seven months between June 2021 and January 2022 this year it received 3,853 applications from participants seeking a review of decisions made by the NDIA. This compares with a far lower amount of 2,160 between June 2020 and June 2021 and, the previous year, 1,780. So, what we're seeing is more and more people with a disability needing to go to the AAT in relation to their NDIS plans, because those plans have been substantially cut or do not fit the purpose. Figures provided by the AAT in response to questions raised in Senate estimates indicate that 17 hearings went before the AAT during the 2019-20 year, compared with 54 hearings in the 2020-21 year and growing to 59 in just a seven-month period to February this year.

I think it's really important that we say very loudly to people with a disability that the NDIS will support them and that they don't have to go through the AAT, because we can't talk to the minister about it until their matter goes through the AAT. And it is causing so much heartbreak, so much anxiety, particularly for families who have children with a disability, where we want to see their whole focus supporting that child to not have to go through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The figures that I mentioned I think raise a very clear picture of an increasingly adversarial system that is difficult for people to navigate. And then we're seeing a rapid increase in legal costs. The Senate estimates Community Affairs Legislation Committee indicated that legal costs in relation to applications to the AAT in the period from 1 July to 31 December 2021 totalled $19.1 million, which for that six-month period exceeded the entire $17.3 million in legal costs for the entire previous financial year. There is clearly an escalation of adversarial action here. And this rapid increase in legal costs does not account for the additional pressure and hardship that applying for and going through the process of challenging the NDIA decision at the AAT places on those at the centre of the NDIS—the people in our community who have a disability and their families.

While we're talking about the NDIS, I must mention one of the NDIS's greatest failings, and that is that it is age discriminatory. This week I heard from Kelvin and Pauline. When cancer lesions damaged Kelvin's spinal cord, he became a paraplegic overnight, at age 67. Pauline says that while she finds caring for her husband Kelvin satisfying they are struggling physically and financially due to the inadequacy of care provided by his level 4 home-care package. That's because Kelvin is 67. If Kelvin was 64 and these lesions caused that disability he would have been able to access an NDIS package, but because he is 67 he cannot. What funds Kelvin has are quickly eroded by administration and management fees, even though they self-manage his aged care. It also took several years for them to find carers who understood the additional needs associated with paraplegia. Pauline and Kelvin say they have not received any respite care for three years, due to a lack of suitable services. What has happened to Kelvin and Pauline could happen to anyone of us or our families. They should not be met with a brick wall because of their age.

We are talking about disabilities that are not part of the natural process of ageing. Earlier this year I tabled a motion to call on the government to either remove the age discrimination against people aged 65 and more that is inherent within the NDIS legislation or to provide equivalent supports through home aged care. As Spinal Life Australia says, disability doesn't discriminate. We must fix this discrimination. It was one of the recommendations of the aged-care royal commission.

In closing, the measures within this bill are a step towards putting people with disability at the centre of decision-making, along with their lives going forward. I support this bill in the House. However, we must not lose sight of the policy purpose set out in the Tune review, which was to improve the experience and outcomes of Australians living with disability in the operation of the NDIS as a whole. Thank you.

4:56 pm

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm pleased to make a contribution on the National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Participant Service Guarantee and Other Measures) Bill 2021. My home, the Hunter region, was a pilot region for the NDIS in 2013, introduced by the Gillard-Rudd Labor governments. I always welcome the opportunity to speak on the NDIS because, unfortunately, it is one of the main issues my constituents contact my office about when seeking assistance.

This bill implements changes to the NDIS Act 2013 in response to the Tune review of the NDIS Act and NDIS participant service guarantee, and the independent review of the act by Ernst & Young in 2015. Other than the recommendations for the insidious independent assessments, which have caused such fear and anxiety for participants, Labor has been supportive of the Tune review's recommendations. Schedule 1 of the bill contains the participant service guarantee. This guarantee was an election commitment by the Morrison government to legislate time frames for NDIS decisions, which was also recommended by the Tune review. It's a damning indictment of this government and clearly demonstrates their attitude to the NDIS that they have not managed to legislate time frames for the NDIS decision in the last 2½ years. We are literally on the second-last day of the 46th Parliament and only now is the government getting around to legislating something they committed to at the 2019 election. What a disgraceful attitude. It is demonstrable of the contempt this government has for everyone who is participating in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Regarding schedule 1 of the bill, many in the disability community believe the proposed changes might create a backdoor for the government to achieve its original aim of independent assessments, which was to cut funding to participant programs. This was the government's intention, and, just because the minister has paused the assessments, given the government's track record it is not surprising they are trying in any way they can to make cuts to the NDIS.

In speaking on the participant service guarantee bill, it's relevant to share some of the experiences my constituents have had. I've been a member of this House for 8½ years, and one of the issues I'm most passionate about is the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The member for Maribyrnong, the shadow minister, is entering the chamber, and I want to recognise again his contribution, with Jenny Macklin, to founding this great scheme. It is a scheme that has changed the lives of so many people.

As I said, I was very proud that the Hunter was a pilot region for the scheme in the early years. In the early years it was very rare for me and my office to receive constituent inquiries on the NDIS. The system was generally working well. In those early years, there were certainly inquiries complaining about significant delays in getting responses from the agency and, of more concern, about participants and their carers getting no response to repeated general telephone inquiries. One mother I met in 2019 was so annoyed at receiving no return calls to her repeated inquiries that she travelled over half an hour to the NDIS office in Charlestown and literally spent hours and hours in the reception room refusing to leave until she actually got to speak to someone. This should not happen.

Participants and their families and carers have complicated lives as it is, without having to deal with a complicated and inefficient bureaucracy. Another shocking example that came to my attention a few years ago was a planner trying to cut funding to a young boy's plan because 'He has autism, and the plan isn't working, because he isn't getting better.' Let me repeat that: a planner tried to cut a young participant's plan because he wasn't recovering from autism. Anyone who has dealt with the challenges of autism, or knows someone who deals every day with autism, knows that you don't recover from it; you learn to live with it. Sadly, this is not an isolated case when I speak to disability advocates.

Another example from a few years ago was a participant who was told that they could not access music therapy in their plan. This was despite there actually being a line item for music therapy. To make matters worse, the parliamentary liaison at the time told my office that the participant could not access music therapy. I had to obtain confirmation in writing from the minister that the participant could indeed access music therapy. This is a shocking example of a participant receiving appalling service from the agency.

One of the most dramatic changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme came when the government introduced independent assessments. Let there be no mistake: the Morrison-Joyce government have an agenda to continue to cut funding to the NDIS. There is no other explanation for these independent assessments than to cut funding to participants' plans. This is relevant to the participant service guarantee bill, because if plans are cut there needs to be a timely review process for participants. As an aside, I have never been contacted by a constituent who had an independent review and received extra support and funding after the assessment. They've only been constituents who have had their plans cut, in some cases dramatically.

The most shocking and cruel example I came across was a cut to another young boy who has a rare genetic disorder. His plan was cut from 35 hours of support a week to just three hours. This was a cut of $100,000, reducing this young boy's funding to a mere $8,000 a year. The horrific reason given by the planner was that now that the participant was at school this represented respite for his mother and he no longer needed the support. The first point here is that the boy's genetic condition required significant support for him when he was not at school. Secondly, his mother worked when he was at school, and work is not respite.

I ask the government this question: who is best placed to determine a participant's needs and support for their plans, medical practitioners and experts who have an intimate knowledge of their condition, or some random assessor who spends a few hours with them and then makes decisions which can have horrific consequences for people living with a disability? I am not convinced the Liberals and Nationals won't try and bring back these disgusting independent assessments, and only an Albanese Labor government will ensure this does not happen.

Unfortunately, over the last few months there has been a significant increase in NDIS inquiries to my office. Let's not forget that those needing support from the NDIS are some of the most vulnerable people in our community. They deserve dignity and respect in their dealings with the agency and should not have to endure long waits because of an incompetent bureaucracy.

Liv Kalavasi is a constituent of mine. She is seven years old and has Williams syndrome. I previously met with her mother Gemma, a really lovely and articulate woman who is passionate about the NDIS and her family. Late last year, her plan was cut by 45 per cent, from $36,700 to $20,300. Gemma's summary of this process is very relevant. These are her words—the mother of a participant: 'There is a real disconnect between the coordinator dealing with the participant and the person making the decision.' Gemma is now having to go through the arduous process of an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal after an independent review upheld the original decision.

Someone else in similar circumstances is Ian Waller from Belmont South. I spoke about the savage cuts to Ian's plans earlier in this place. Ian is vision impaired and the NDIA have, incredibly, cut funding for his guide dog. There are no words to describe how despicable it is. They have cut funding so that Ian does not receive any funding for his guide dog. Ian is also going to have to appeal to the AAT. In the meantime, with help from his coordinator, he's relying on assistance from a GoFundMe campaign to keep his guide dog. I want to thank NBN News for their outstanding work drawing our community's attention to Ian's fight. The donations have been generous and are a great reflection of the decency of the people I represent. I want to recognise and thank everyone who has contributed to the GoFundMe campaign, and in particular, to thank Shane Spruce, the owner of PETQuarters who is generously supporting Ian and his guide dog. But this should not be happening. The whole point of the NDIS is for participants to be provided with the support that they need to live in dignity and to fulfil their full potential.

In conclusion, as I've said many times, the National Disability Insurance Scheme is a contract from the Australian people to Australians living with a disability. It's a contract that says: 'No matter how your disability occurred, whether it was through birth or an accident, no matter whether you had insurance cover or not, we will assist you. We will make sure that you live a life full of dignity and respect, and we enable you to live to your full potential.' Unfortunately, under the nine long years of this Liberal-National government, the NDIS has not grown and developed as it was originally intended to, and people with a disability and their families and carers are bearing the consequences of the cruel conservative approach to government of the Morrison-Joyce government.

5:06 pm

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party, Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

The National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Participant Service Guarantee and Other Measures) Bill 2021 demonstrates a commitment by this government to the focus on improving the experiences and outcomes of people with disability who engage with the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This bill will legislate the Participant Service Guarantee as well as introduce additional measures to improve the NDIS processes and to improve flexibility to participants. The Participant Service Guarantee means that the National Disability Insurance Agency must make decisions about a person's access to the scheme and their plans within a certain time frame. The guarantee also requires the NDIA to meet specific service standards when working with people with a disability and their families and carers.

To ensure the NDIA remains accountable to meeting the time frames and service standards in the Participant Service Guarantee, the NDIA will need to report on how well it is delivering each part of the Participant Service Guarantee. The Commonwealth Ombudsman will also be given powers to independently monitor and report to the government on how well the NDIA is improving the participant experience.

Other measures will improve flexibility, provide greater clarity to those engaged with the NDIS, and the introduction of a plan variation will allow for quick changes to be made to a participant's plan without the need to undergo a full plan reassessment.

Some of the changes are also about people with disability helping to design the NDIS and the role of carers and families supporting people with disability. The changes also use more inclusive language. The bill ensures that people with disability or lived experience of disability are represented on the NDIA board. This will strengthen the integrity of the NDIS by providing a robust mechanism for ensuring that the participants, their families and carers are more firmly at the centre of processes and decision-making.

The bill also makes it clear that someone with an episodic or fluctuating disability may be eligible for the NDIS and clarifies how payments are made under the NDIS. Additional safeguards have been put in place for participants who want to use a registered plan management provider. The changes also remove provisions for the trial and transition phases of the scheme that are no longer required now the scheme is fully available across the whole of Australia.

In addition to the consultation conducted in relation to the draft bill, the bill has been scrutinised by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills and the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee, where sector representatives were able to make comment and speak to their concerns at the public hearing. I would like to thank everyone who provided input into the bill through the consultation and the work of the committees. The government has circulated amendments to the bill that respond to the feedback received. I commend the bill to the House.

Photo of Steve GeorganasSteve Georganas (Adelaide, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The original question was that this bill been now read a second time. To this the honourable member for Dunkley has moved as an amendment that all words after 'That' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The immediate question is that the amendment be disagreed to.

Question agreed to.

The question now is that the bill be now read a second time.

A division having been called and the bells having been rung—

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

As there are fewer than five members on the side for the noes in this division, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative in accordance with standing order 127. The names of those members who are in the minority will be recorded in the Votes and Proceedings.

Question agreed to, Mr Bandt and Mr Wilkie voting no.

Bill read a second time.