If the National Disability Insurance Scheme is to succeed, the Federal Government must show it is committed to putting people with a disability at the heart of a system of rights that ensures they have choice and control over their support services. It must also deliver the promised economic and social reforms.
Tonight in Geelong I will tell Australia’s largest conference for people with disabilities, run by VALID – the Victorian League for Individuals with a Disability – that the NDIS is now facing crucial decisions that will set the standards and outcomes for the next 30 years.
The Andrews Labor Government is determined to uphold quality standards for the new system. For this to happen, we need the Federal Government to deliver on the NDIS as it promised. We must work together to achieve four goals:
- Services must be designed around rights that are enforced. This means governments should support independent advocacy. Instead, the Federal Government has overseen cuts to independent advocacy.
- Quality and standards must be high right across the nation. Next month, the Federal Government must work with state and territory Ministers at the Disability Reform Council to finalise a system based on quality services. Quality must be backed by registration of providers, external scrutiny and robust complaints handling, including the ability to investigate. The few rogues must be weeded out.
- Specialist disability housing must be fully funded. The Federal Government has failed to deliver the original scheme’s promise that the housing aspirations of people with disability would be fully funded – whether that be through construction of a home, renovation of an existing home or the replacement of an unsuitable home. The NDIS is a jointly funded scheme, and the Federal Government needs to deliver its share of this.
- Support is needed for clients, their families, providers, advocates and workers to understand their roles, rights and responsibilities in the new world of the NDIS. Victoria has invested more than $10 million to help with this, but we have seen very little investment from the Federal Government’s $140 million Sector Development Fund.
This is the year the Federal Government needs to step up and work with the states, people with disabilities, their families and their organisations to achieve this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the lives of 450,000 Australians with disabilities.
This is an historic moment where governments are called upon to lead. The March meeting of the Disability Reform Council is the last real chance to deliver fully on the promise of the NDIS before full roll-out of the scheme starts in the major states of NSW and Victoria. Our government will hold true to the vision of the NDIS. We need our Federal colleagues to stand with us in a truly bi-partisan way on this once-in-a-generation transformational change.