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FOR – Bills — National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Getting the Ndis Back on Track No. 1) Bill 2024; Second Reading

Steve Georganas

I'll continue on from where I left off last night, when I managed to get a couple of minutes in on this very important bill. As I was saying last night, the National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Getting the NDIS Back on Track No. 1) Bill 2024 is very important because it lays the groundwork for changes to make the NDIS better and more secure and to support people with disabilities in a way that gives them even more dignity in their everyday lives.

When you look at the NDIS, it's right up there with the great Labor reforms in our history. It's right up there with Medicare. It's right up there with the Chifley government's national taxation system and the pension system. This was certainly groundbreaking back during the Rudd-Gillard era. I recall very well that, in my own electorate, back in 2007, we had a disability forum. The then member for Maribyrnong, who was the minister for disability services, came along and said to me, 'I'm going to test something out in this room.' And he spoke to a room of approximately 150 people in my electorate who were from the disability sector—people with disabilities, parents who had children with disabilities and a whole range of people. He spoke about an insurance scheme, and I recall very well that it went down very well with everyone in that room. From there, the seed was planted for an NDIS. Of course, it took a few years through the minister, who then was Jenny Macklin. I was very proud to be here on the day the NDIS was passed unanimously through this House.

This bill builds on those important steps. As I said last night, we know that in March earlier this year we introduced legislation to the parliament to enable this important and necessary change to the NDIS. The government, by proposing this bill, is delivering on a commitment to build a strong and sustainable NDIS. We're doing this not just through words but by providing a further $468.7 million to get the NDIS back on track. These measures build on the $213.7 million to fight fraud, for example, and to co-design the NDIS reforms with people with disability announced earlier this year. The budget that was announced a few weeks ago will drive the implementation of key recommendations from the independent review of the NDIS, including reforms to the scheme transparency, participant supports, sustainability and services delivery, to get the NDIS back on track. This Albanese Labor government is committed to involve people with disability in the reforms, to improve outcomes for people with disability and to ensure the scheme is here forever and a day to support future generations of Australians with disabilities.

The NDIS is on the same pedestal, as I said earlier, as our remarkable Medicare. People with disabilities and their families know that they can trust this government to continue to protect the scheme, to make it stronger and to get the NDIS back on track. This government is committed to improving the outcomes for the NDIS participants and ensuring every single dollar goes to those who need it the most. The Albanese government will continue to work closely with the disability sector to consider the recommendations of the independent NDIS review and transition towards a disability support ecosystem capable of supporting all Australians with disability now and into the future. We've already said that we want to make it stronger and we've already begun to take that initiative and the initial, immediate steps in response to the historic review.

The investment will provide the architecture needed to bring together people with disability, government and other experts, to support those implementations and those important reforms. The key investments will include $45.5 million to establish an NDIS Evidence Advisory Committee, a clear pathway of $20 million to start consultation and design work to help people with disability navigate the services, and a fresh approach to pricing, which is very important, with $5.3 million to undertake that work to reform the NDIS pricing arrangements to help to ensure that the NDIS participants get the best deal and a fair deal and increase the transparency of how prices are set. These are all important steps. For example, the architecture to implement the reform will strengthen the governance. For co-design in fighting fraud there is $213.8 million of recently announced funding to fight fraud—to fight the things that we saw on the front page of today's Australian, and to co-design and reform this NDIS so that people with disability get the most out of it.

This government is transforming the capability of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to protect people with disabilities from abuse, violence and neglect, and to detect and prevent fraud. Over the next four years, starting from financial year 2024-25, the Australian government will be investing more than $160.7 million through the DART program to ensure the NDIS commission has the critical technology and the systems required to gather the intelligence and collect and analyse data to better protect the NDIS participants. It will reduce the regulatory burden on the NDIS providers and improve cybersecurity.

This investment will ensure the NDIS commission can focus its activities to better protect those people with disabilities from harm and provide for more effective data sharing between the NDIS commission and the NDIA, as well as other government agencies, to help protect those participants by reducing misuse of the system.

The government and the minister are absolutely committed. That's why they've committed $45.5 million to establish the NDIS Evidence Advisory Committee, and this is a key recommendation of the independent NDIS review. We know that the NDIS Evidence Advisory Committee will provide independent and transparent advice to government on what works for participants. The committee will also provide advice on the evidence base for therapeutic support access through the NDIS, improving outcomes and ensuring better value for participants.

We know key findings from the independent NDIS review highlighted the challenges people with disability, their families and their carers face when navigating this labyrinth to find and access vital supports and services within the current disability ecosystem. The Albanese Labor government is also investing $20 million to begin breaking down these barriers through commencing consultation and design of a new navigation service model for the disability community regardless of their eligibility to access the NDIS. The government will continue to work closely with people with disabilities and the broader disability sector to ensure that the proposed navigational model is fit for purpose and able to meet the diverse needs of the disability community both inside and outside of the NDIS.

Over the last 10 years, the NDIS has made an incredible difference to people's lives. It's made a very significant contribution to Australians living with a disability and their families and those who care for them. This includes many constituents who have approached my office with issues in this space. I'm sure all of us in this House, on both sides, get queries from constituents that are having issues with the NDIS or in the disability sector. One of those constituents of mine that we have assisted recently is Jane, whose occasional therapist contacted me to raise concerns for Jane's wellbeing should she not receive NDIS support. At the time, Jane was in the Royal Adelaide public hospital and was not able to be released. They would not release her until she had some ongoing care at home. Jane is chair bound and suffers from severe lymphoedema, severe arthritis and complex PTSD. At the time, I was advised that Jane had previously applied for the NDIS but was refused for various reasons. I then took it upon myself to make representations on behalf of Jane and to assist Jane out of deep concern for her wellbeing, as her carer was telling us about. The thing is that she couldn't go home without the care, so therefore she was stuck in a bed in a public hospital. It's also worth noting that a situation like this contributes to the congestion in our hospitals. People are in hospital beds because they can't access the support to go home. But I was pleased that, after approaching Minister Shorten's office, he took a keen interest in Jane's case and asked for it to be reviewed. The review resulted in Jane receiving NDIS support and returning home with the support she needed. Her quality of life has improved immensely since then. This is by no means an isolated case. In my office we regularly assist constituents to access NDIS support for themselves and for their family members.

This is why this Albanese Labor government is investing $5.3 million in 2024 and 2025 to undertake the preliminary work on possible NDIS pricing function reforms to strengthen transparency, predictability and alignment, which will then in turn offer those people with disabilities a better service. This government will continue to work very closely with the disability sector to consider the recommendations of the independent NDIS review and transition towards a disability support ecosystem capable of supporting all Australians with disabilities now and into the future.

The NDIS Implementation Advisory Committee will oversee and advise on all of the initial period of implementation and will have representatives from the wide disability sector and government and other experts with relevant experience. The committee will report to the Disability Reform Ministerial Council every six months. I was proud, 10 years ago, when the bill was passed in this place to form the NDIS. I'm still proud of the ongoing work. I know that only a Labor government can be trusted to get the NDIS back on track. (Time expired)

Long debate text truncated.

Summary

Date and time: 12:08 PM on 2024-06-05
Allegra Spender's vote: Aye
Total number of "aye" votes: 57
Total number of "no" votes: 82
Total number of abstentions: 12
Related bill: National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Getting the NDIS Back on Track No. 1) Bill 2024

Adapted from information made available by theyvoteforyou.org.au

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