Page 762 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 April 2014

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MS BURCH: I thank Mr Gentleman for his interest in the national disability insurance scheme. By July 2016, all ACT residents with significant and permanent disability—that is around 5,000 people in our community—will be covered by the national disability insurance scheme. As the Canberra Times so aptly put it last week, “Canberra is leading the way on NDIS.” There will be twice as much funding for disability services by 2019—up to $342 million. We are working through this in a sensible time frame, subject to sign-off by the commonwealth by age and stage and life.

This is an exciting time for our disability sector, but it also means significant change. As the Chief Minister and I announced last week, the government will gradually withdraw from the provision of specialist disability and therapy services over the next three years. I was very pleased to hear Mr Wall endorse this approach last week when he said, “A gradual phase-out of government involvement in service provision is the appropriate thing to do.”

This is a positive development because the last thing that people with disability in our community need is for this to be played out in a political sense. So I am indeed grateful for Mr Wall’s endorsement, aligned very nicely and closely with all my cabinet and caucus.

Mr Hanson interjecting—

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, Mr Hanson!

MS BURCH: Let there be no question that we signed up with an open heart because it was the right thing to do, and it continues to be the right thing to do. Community organisations already play a major role in delivering disability support and this decision will build on what is already in place. Almost two-thirds of supported accommodation is delivered by community organisations. One community organisation in Canberra already employs more disability support officers than the government.

Right now, the government’s focus is on providing staff and clients with the information they need to make the transition. For the past year we have been consulting, engaging, seeking advice, and developing activities and initiatives side by side with the disability sector here in the ACT. So I was indeed delighted to hear and read Christina Ryan, an avid disability advocate. She said, “I think this is a great announcement. I’m really pleased with the way they have gone about it. This actually does give people more options and it will give them some of the time they need to think about what’s best for them.”

From July we will see the National Disability Insurance Agency take on the leading role in administering the scheme here in the ACT. Over coming months the agency will be working with the ACT government to develop public consultations sessions—

Members interjecting—

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