Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 27 November 2018) . . Page.. 4802 ..
write this report, after hearings had been finalised. I commend the report to the Assembly.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (10.29): I would briefly like to add some comments to those of Ms Cody, the committee chair. I begin by paying testimony to the new member of the committee, Ms Cody, and also our new committee secretary. Both of them came to this well into the proceedings. They had a lot of work to do to get across the issues by reading the transcripts and the like, which is a very difficult thing to do. I commend them both for their work and, therefore, the quality of the report that we have presented.
I would like to highlight a couple of things that touched me personally during the inquiry. They were the stories that we heard from the Shepherd Centre about the lack of early intervention, or the fall-off of early intervention, through the introduction of the NDIS. The story that we were told by the Shepherd Centre and by the other hearing organisations is that if children are identified young—they are usually identified by postnatal screening before they leave hospital as to whether they have a problem with their hearing—and have rapid intervention, those children, after a period of probably four to five years of intensive training, go on to school and compete with their hearing peers on an equal playing field. They have the same language development and they succeed at school the same as their hearing peers.
However, if those interventions are delayed, their lifetime outcomes are also impaired. Yes, the early intervention is expensive. It turns out that it is about $18,000 a year for four to five years. That is a lot of money, but it means that after that those children do not need anything except devices and they will continue with their lives and achieve at the same rate as their hearing peers. That is a symptom of how important early intervention is. It is the canary in the mine, really. If early intervention falls off, we will see children not achieving in the way that they can.
I think the very important recommendations and findings that come out of that relate to early intervention, not just for hearing impaired children but for children across the board. That early invention stream needs to be ramped up to ensure that we get the best outcomes over the long term. Although we have to spend money now, in economically rational terms we will save money in the long term. We will also have better quality of life and better outcomes for those children and their families.
The other issue that I would like to touch on is the issue that Ms Cody also touched on, the workforce issue, particularly the casualisation of the workforce. When the NDIS was announced, it was said that this would be an area not only of great contribution to people with disabilities but also of economic growth. We were told that there would be growth in this sector. It is very hard to see that that is happening, or happening effectively, because of the casualisation of the workforce and the low pay of many of the people who provide essential services in this area. It is going to take some time to work out. But I do not think the NDIS will be sustainable if you have a low paid, casualised workforce providing very essential services in this space.
I think one of the things that probably have not come out so much in the discussion this morning is that the NDIS is a very important policy initiative. I note that we say