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12 March 1991 - Current

Page 2099
06 June 2019
ASSEMBLY Second reading Frank McGuire
Mr McGUIRE (Broadmeadows) (12:54:46): The vulnerable arrive with hope and tears in their eyes. Their hope is for a brighter future for their children. Anxiety and uncertainty induce the tears. For families this is a lifelong quest to deny that miser fate. They come to a member of Parliament’s office quite often as a last resort, a cry for help, to try and see what can be done and how to walk through the administrative minefield and then to find out why there was actually a $1.6 billion underspend on the services that try to provide for their loved ones. So this is something—a policy and a structure—that touches all of us as members of Parliament, and it has been a long time coming in trying to address the consequences of deinstitutionalisation and how we can provide better care and better services for our most vulnerable. Just to put this in a political context I do want to acknowledge the work of Bill Shorten and Jenny Macklin over a long period of time. Politics can be cruel. A leader can go from hero to zero in one day, but the national disability insurance scheme (NDIS) is a life-defining legacy for Bill Shorten. Defining cultural, generational and systemic change is rare. Delivering a better life for so many is rarer. This is a reminder of the will, wit and nous that he has brought over a long period of time, and he should be commended for that public service. Also, Jenny Macklin’s involvement goes back to being a ministerial adviser when David White was the Minister for Health in Victoria in the 1980s. Again she has shown the experience, the political and institutional memory and the absolutely uncompromising commitment to delivering practical results that lead to better solutions and better lives. This is decades of commitment. I do want to acknowledge the Victorian minister. There is some arguing at the margin over the timing of the bill. This is a necessary proposition. It is critical that the provisions are passed by 30 June to meet commonwealth requirements, so that is what we are doing. I do note that it is not contested by the opposition, so let us get on with it, let us deliver it, let us make it happen, let us get a better result. We are noted, as the Andrews Labor government, for delivering—this again will go to this proposition. The national disability insurance scheme itself is a once-in-a-generation reform that is transforming the way that disability services are funded, and that needs to be scrutinised further and assessed to ensure that all people with a disability get the best support possible. The NDIS will also change the way services are regulated. The rollout of the full scheme will commence in Victoria on 1 July, so the timing is right on the deadline to get this done. That is why it is good to have bipartisan support for this bill to make sure that that occurs. I do want to also acknowledge my electorate staff, who are the first point of call for a lot of people who are distressed. The cases are compelling. Sue Kelty, who works for me—I knew her family when she was Sue Barry growing up in Broadmeadows a long time ago—and the other members of my staff as well are the first point of contact for people who are just trying to keep their families together under enormous duress. I think that that is an important way for that to then come to me as the MP. I will actually outline some of the issues, some of the case studies, that have come from my community and what we do need to do for the future. This is really just the next phase of how we connect the disconnected, how we give people better opportunities and lives, and how we make sure that people no longer feel isolated and marginalised. Because if you think what we used to have, you know, you were just put away to be unseen and to be left behind. We have, thankfully, evolved. This is a great opportunity with the NDIS. It will take goodwill, bipartisanship and a large amount of funding and commitment, but I think that that is critical to defining the fair go, as we see it in Australia, and how we actually make sure that people are taken care of. Sitting suspended 1.00 p.m. until 2.01 p.m. Mr McGUIRE: To continue my contribution and recap, I was acknowledging the big-picture strategy, vision and commitment that Bill Shorten and Jenny Macklin have both brought to this over decades and that their work should be recognised in this Parliament. It is a large part of why we are actually debating this bill today. Then to some of the issues that still need to be addressed—the underspend of $1.6 billion on the National Disability Insurance Agency and the impact that that has—and also to provide the human face of how this plays out for people in their lives. I was making the point that it is probably the same for all of us in this Parliament—that we have people coming in a desperate state looking to us for help as members of Parliament, and I thank in particular my staff for the work that they do in dealing with this level of anxiety and complexity. I wanted to also reference the Deputy Speaker’s insight into what can happen in abuse, and the Victorian Parliament’s analysis of that in an inquiry I think has been another really significant contribution. As she put it, it is systemic, and this is something that we need to keep a close eye on to make sure that as we make progress on one side we are not slipping in other ways. Victoria has a range of safeguards in place to ensure that the rights of people with a disability are protected when accessing services. Some of the functions in relation to safeguards for NDIS participants will be undertaken by the NDIS commission from 1 July. This will support a nationally consistent approach, and that is obviously why this piece of legislation is time sensitive—to meet this deadline. Other functions will continue to be operated in Victoria or by Victoria. Proposed amendments to the Disability Act 2006 aim to meet Victoria’s obligation under the NDIS quality and safeguarding framework and ensure safeguards are not diminished during transition to the full scheme under the NDIS. This bill will ensure that safeguards for people with a disability in Victoria are maintained and strengthened during the transition to the NDIS and into the future. This includes ensuring community visitors can visit specialist disability accommodation services and robust authorisation processes are in place for the use of regulated restrictive practices. The bill also ensures that Victorian oversight bodies can share appropriate information and work closely with the NDIS commission to ensure there are no gaps in safeguards. That is a critical way of making sure that we have collaboration and a coordinated approach. I do want to go to the human factor in this, with people who have come to my office, and to look at some of the critical points that they have raised as participants in a high-needs area. The plan was significantly underfunded from the outset. We had repeated requests to secure flexible appointment times for occupational therapists, planners and NDIS supporters that were denied and found to be nearly non-existent. Also, Independence Australia were given a signed service agreement for an allocation of a certain amount of money, which was fully funded in the plan. When providers of the goods submitted their invoices up to the agreed value, it was rejected due to a shortfall in the funds left. This was indicative of another service provider that had received Independence Australia funding, leaving them with a shortfall. These are some of the ongoing issues that must be addressed to make sure that the rhetoric meets the reality. I do commend the bill to the house and hope that we can actually deliver these results to provide better care for some of our most vulnerable people and their families as soon as possible.