Senate debates

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Bills

National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Streamlined Governance) Bill 2019; Second Reading

9:31 am

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

about people being asked inappropriate questions in their sessions around their plans. That shows quite clearly that planners still do not have a fundamental understanding of some of the disabilities that they are dealing with. There aren't enough services in regional areas. People can't access the services that they've been funded to get, because they don't exist yet or they just don't exist. I think I've told the chamber before of the example of transport in a plan with people being told they could catch public transport in regional areas where public transport simply does not exist.

There is the inability to use services properly. There is a massive bottleneck of services, meaning that some participants can't utilise their plans properly, which leads to extra money in their plans, which usually leads to a review where participants' plans are cut because they didn't spend it. I cannot tell you how many times I have had people complain to my office—and I'm certain Senator Steele-John has exactly the same occurrences—about not being able to access the services they need, because they're not available, because we still haven't got an adequately trained-up workforce in the numbers needed for people to be able to access the services, so they can't spend their packages. So what is the decision? 'Oh, clearly you don't need that level of funding,' so their next plan is cut. The IT systems are not fit for purpose. The IT system was not fit for purpose from the get-go. It was borrowed from Centrelink and is so confusing that service providers have trouble with it, let alone disabled people who are trying to use the system to access their funding. The government are literally balancing their budget on the fact that there is underspend to the tune of at least $6.4 billion in the NDIS. This is money that the participants haven't been able to spend, because the system isn't working properly.

We want to see more disabled people on the board of the NDIS, people with a lived experience who understand the complex nature of disability and who are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure that every single participant has a positive experience, enabling them to access all the supports and services they need to live a good life. We understand that the current governance frameworks have created issues in the process of efficient and effective decision-making and acknowledge that the motivation of this bill is to remedy this. We support in principle the proposed consultation time line for certain decisions and actions: 28 days for initial response, with the possibility of an extension of 90 days upon request. We note, however, that the consultation process with states and territories on matters which require agreement proposed in the bill are already administrative arrangements for intergovernmental consultation. The COAG Reform Council agreed to a 28-day consultation period in November 2017, which would see the Commonwealth seek agreement with the states and territories. Once this period has elapsed, failure to respond would be taken as agreement. Further, the intergovernmental agreement between the Commonwealth, states and territories, with the exception of Western Australia, now captures this process.

I've already articulated some of the issues about the appointment to the NDIA board and to the IAC. We don't support their proposed amendments for seeking agreement on the appointments and terminations of NDIA board members and members of the IAC. This bill is flawed. We have clearly articulated our opposition. We urgently need to see reforms to the NDIS. We need to have a board that has a wealth of lived experience and that disabled people are there making decisions over the scheme that was intended to give them choice over their services, improve their lives and give them a much better quality of life. The NDIS isn't doing that. We strongly support— (Time expired)

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