"National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013"
- Category: Legislation and Acts
- Created: Saturday, 01 February 2014 10:52
- Written by Alecomm2
|About this Item
|Stokes Mr Rob; Owen Mr Tim; Patterson Mr Chris; Barr Mr Clayton; Speakman Mr Mark; Parker Mr Jamie; Holstein Mr Chris; Zangari Mr Guy; Acting-Speaker (Ms Sonia Hornery); Gibbons Ms Melanie; Toole Mr Paul; O'Dea Mr Jonathan; Hornery Ms Sonia; Sage Mrs Roza; Williams Mrs Leslie; Marshall Mr Adam; Piper Mr Greg; Acting-Speaker (Mr Lee Evans); Ward Mr Gareth; Constance Mr Andrew
|Bill, Division, Second Reading, Third Reading, Motion
Debate resumed from 19 November 2013.
Mr ROB STOKES (Pittwater—Parliamentary Secretary) [10.11 a.m.]: I make a contribution to debate on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013. I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak in support of such historic and important legislation, which will directly benefit the most vulnerable in our communities, provide additional support for families in greatest need, and help to establish a strong and sustainable disability care system for the future. I am proud that New South Wales has been so proactive in response to this issue. New South Wales is the first State to reach an agreement with the Commonwealth Government to enable a trial period to commence. We are now setting the legislative structure in place to ensure the smoothest possible introduction of this scheme.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme will be a momentous step forward in the delivery of disability care services in New South Wales. I have spoken with many local families in my community, and in particular I commend the Lawrence family of Mona Vale. It is very easy to look at the big changes that will occur, how many will benefit, the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be invested and the thousands of services that will be involved, but what is most important is how this legislation will benefit individuals and families in local communities throughout the State. For many years these individuals and families have spoken about the enormous challenges that exist, the shortfalls and gaps in services, and the fears and uncertainties they hold about the future—in particular, ageing parents of children with disabilities.
In the short period since the launch phase has been underway in the Hunter, we have already heard some encouraging reports about positive changes being made and transformations in how people living with disabilities are conducting their lives. As we know, the transition of the National Disability Insurance Scheme across the rest of the State will take place between 2016 and 2018, and by mid-2018 the Commonwealth Government will have full responsibility for administering the scheme through the National Disability Insurance Agency and supporting ministerial council. For now New South Wales has the key responsibility of removing obstructive legislative barriers, ensuring continuity of service is guaranteed and facilitating the smooth transfer of entities, employees and assets.
The bill is designed to ensure that this transition takes place in the most unobtrusive and seamless way for those currently receiving services and their families. I am pleased to note that that focus on a seamless transition is the number one priority of both the Government and the Minister. I applaud this vital approach. We know that around 140,000 people in this State will be participating in the scheme by 2018—this will include 50,000 people accessing support for the first time. We also know that from 2018 the National Disability Insurance Scheme will effectively see a doubling of funding currently provided for disability services in New South Wales to more than $6 billion per annum.
The bill provides for implementation arrangements to be made, which will include the capacity to establish corporate and other entities and package-up service delivery in a way that is appealing to everyone involved in the sector. The bill will also enable the transfer of the invaluable State disability workforce in a way so that people with disability can continue to be supported by the staff who support them now—people they know, trust and are comfortable with. As anyone who has spoken to individuals and families in these situations knows, these relationships are of critical importance, particularly when so many changes are already taking place and the normal routines to which they have become accustomed are being altered or challenged.
The bill will also offer protections to those staff moving into the disability sector, including the transfer of annual leave, sick leave and superannuation entitlements. Other protections can also be built into agreements with new employers, including employment guarantee periods. New South Wales wants to give existing staff the best possible start in the sector, which is obviously going to need tens of thousands of additional employees over the coming years. Last night the member for Sydney made an eloquent speech in this debate, but I was troubled by some of the issues he raised. I want to refute his explicit criticisms of the role of disability providers whose services and contributions are based on Christian principles. A diversity of choice at the individual level is fundamental to these reforms. I do not believe that we should be restricting or bureaucratising the role of non-government organisations.
In particular, I noted with concern that the member had heard reports of lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and intersex people being discriminated against and receiving unfair treatment from religious service providers. If the member for Sydney is aware of issues involving unlawful discrimination I encourage him to talk to the people involved and to bring those matters to the attention of the appropriate authorities. The member for Sydney also said that an Ageing, Disability and Home Care officer had given him a strong assurance that the Government will include provisions in all contracts for the transfer of disability care to prevent any form of discrimination against disability clients or staff.
Whilst I strongly endorse the member's comments in relation to unlawful discrimination, I note that provision of a contract which sought to undermine the existing exemptions allowing for religious freedoms by religious bodies would require legislative amendment. Obviously an illegal contract provision that sought to undermine a legislative protection would be vitiated. It would be void from the moment it was written. Importantly, contracts cannot undermine existing legislative protections. With such momentous, significant and somewhat emotional changes underway, I am pleased that we have such a competent and effective chief executive officer overseeing the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care and the passage of this entire process. Jim Longley is not only one of my predecessors, having served as the member for Pittwater between 1986 and 1996 and as a Minister in the Fahey Government, but also someone who has an in-depth knowledge of care and disability issues. Jim is genuinely passionate about reforms and long-term improvements in this sector.
The bill will enable State assets to be vested in organisations in ways that will enable them to be used most effectively for the delivery of disability and care services. Where these assets are land, such as the hundreds of group homes throughout New South Wales, the bill contains mechanisms in which to transfer them in a range of ways to safeguard the best interests of our State. I am fully aware that these are major, wide-reaching reforms. By the end of the transition period New South Wales will no longer provide or fund disability services in the traditional way. This is certainly significant and represents a major change. However, we will see these services provided by a range of specialist non-government providers.
Individuals will be free to choose where to direct their funding to purchase the services they want. We are fortunate to have some great non-government providers also operating in this sector. Those non-government providers will now be able to expand, diversify and focus their services to capture the increasing demand that will exist. Indeed, they will be able to use their unique histories and services to enable a greater range of choice than currently exits. Certainly with the expertise that I mentioned of the Chief Executive for Ageing, Disability and Home Care, Jim Longley, and under and the direction of the Minister for Disability Services, the Hon. John Ajaka, MLC, I am very confident in the process being undertaken. Along with all members of the House, I look forward to families throughout New South Wales beginning to benefit from what is not just a major investment of funds but also a complete rethink, realignment and reform of the way we look after and care for the most vulnerable in our community. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr TIM OWEN (Newcastle) [10.19 a.m.]: I make a short contribution to debate on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013. We have heard from the previous Minister, Andrew Constance, and the current Minister, the Hon. John Ajaka, on this bill. I will not go into the detail of the legislation but suffice to say that it is designed to protect the fundamental human rights of people with a disability and to assist with the transfer from the current fragmented, broken, State-based system to one that puts the individual at the heart of decision-making. It is about choice and control.
We have started the National Disability Insurance Scheme trial in the Hunter, and some rather unfortunate comments and accusations have made about the commencement of the delivery of the National Disability Insurance Scheme which relate in particular to the Stockton Centre. As both Ministers have mentioned, currently we pour between $2.7 billion and $2.9 billion into the National Disability Insurance Scheme which affords a level of service to about 90,000 people. By 2018 the State Government will be contributing $3.1 billion and the Federal Government will be contributing $3.3 billion for a total of $6.4 billion in New South Wales to assist of the order of 140,000 to 145,000 people with a disability. These are the most vulnerable people in our country and in our State.
Much of the commentary in Newcastle has centred around the Stockton Centre. As Andrew Constance made very clear yesterday and as Minister Ajaka has also made very clear, the National Disability Insurance Scheme does not in any way affect the commitments made to the families, the carers and, more importantly, the residents of the Stockton Centre. We made a commitment, as did the previous Labor Government, that we would engage very closely with each family on an individual basis to look at what their requirements would be as they move forward. We have always made it clear that the current facilities at Stockton are not up to standard. They do not meet the legal requirements for what we as the State Government are required to deliver for the most vulnerable in our society.
We have always made it very clear that we would look to redevelop the Stockton Centre and that the residents who wished to remain on site and their families would have the opportunity in each of their individual consultations to make that clear to us. I say again to the people of Newcastle that we have made a commitment to look at the Stockton Centre, to redevelop the Stockton Centre and to allow residents who wish to remain on site to do so in that redeveloped facility. There is a lot of work to do on this and there will be a lot of discussions and negotiations with individual residents and their families, but the commitment is there. It has never changed. It is unfortunate that a scare campaign has been whipped up to the effect that everybody will have to move and that the centre will close by 2018, et cetera.
These facilities will be redeveloped by 2018 but there has been no articulation from this Government that the centre will close—a point that I make clear for the people of Newcastle. To the residents of the Stockton Centre and their families and carers I say: We will work closely with you and we will deliver what you want. A huge amount of money will be available for these people, the most vulnerable in our society, to have control of and choice for their future, which I think is wonderful. We should all be rejoicing at what the National Disability Insurance Scheme brings to the table. For the first time ever in the history of this country people with severe disabilities will be on an equal footing with everybody else in our society, and that is nothing other than wonderful.
Mr CHRIS PATTERSON (Camden) [10.24 a.m.]: I support the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013. The implementation of this scheme will be undertaken by the independent statutory agency the National Disability Insurance Agency. The National Disability Insurance Scheme is to better the lives of people living with a significant and permanent disability, and their families and carers. People with a disability will now have far greater opportunities to live life how they choose as a result of this scheme. It is an insurance-based model of funding where people with a disability will be able to access and purchase the services they need. Currently funding is allocated to service providers. However, under the new scheme people will be given direct access to funding to administer themselves or through a broker should they choose to.
Something that people not living with a disability take for granted every day is the choice that they have in making decisions about how they receive support or services in any number of areas. I believe that Minister Ajaka hit the nail on the head by describing the scheme and its purpose as:
- … the promotion of a vibrant and competitive market of services and supports across communities in New South Wales that will need to respond to the desires and aspirations of people with disability and bring new approaches, innovation and flexibility to bear in how supports are arranged.
Minister Ajaka clearly summed up what this scheme will do and how it will impact positively on the lives of people with a disability. I acknowledge the efforts of Minister Ajaka. In the short time that he has been a Minister he has already been to my electorate and visited a couple of places that provide tremendous services. One in particular was Sunflower Cottage. It was great that the Minister could come and visit and bring a $20,000 cheque to help redo the playground. That will help Sunflower Cottage to continue to deliver the outstanding service it provides. I thank the Minister for his support for services in my electorate, particularly at such an early stage of being a Minister.
Changes through this scheme bring the single greatest investment in disability services in the history not only of New South Wales but also of Australia. This social insurance scheme addresses the need for a new, better coordinated funding model for people living with disabilities. It is recognised that this can be better achieved through a national approach rather than at a State level. This national scheme will provide individualised funding to people with a disability. I commend the Government for leading the way and being the first to sign up to the national scheme. The former Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance, led the charge and signed up before any other State. I think that really shows the commitment of this Government to supporting this scheme and how much value it places on it. I commend Minister Constance for doing so. I also commend those opposite and their Federal counterparts for the bipartisan support that the scheme has received.
Mr Clayton Barr: It was our idea.
Mr CHRIS PATTERSON: This scheme is something that the entire Parliament understands and believes will help people with disabilities to live their lives. This is one of those schemes that everybody in this Chamber supports. That is a very positive thing. This bill provides the necessary framework to ensure the success of the scheme in New South Wales. Currently the National Disability Insurance Scheme is underway in the Hunter, and we have just had the member for Newcastle tell us a bit about that. We have received positive feedback on the outcomes for people using the scheme in that area. As part of New South Wales's commitment and transition to the scheme, it was agreed that we will no longer be a provider of specialist disability services or community care supports. This is because a redesign of the disability services sector is needed, moving away from government-directed services towards client-directed services. Non-government providers are often locally based and more responsive. They are best placed to respond to demand and will not restrict diversity and innovation in a growing market like a dominant public sector could.
I acknowledge the highly important work and the range of support that the Government and community sector agencies have provided to people with disabilities in New South Wales. Over the years the agencies have gathered an enormous wealth of knowledge and expertise in the provision of disability services. Staff will need to move or transfer to new employers, and this bill provides the mechanisms to protect employee entitlements including the transfer of sick leave, annual leave and superannuation entitlements. Employment guarantee periods can also be built into agreements. This bill and the changes it will bring will allow for holistic service delivery that is consistent with the National Disability Insurance Scheme approach. The bill provides for a smooth transition to the scheme and assets will be able to be vested to meet the sector's increased demand for services.
Feedback on this first stage of implementation will be important and it will be taken into account to ensure that the bill is meeting its objectives. The Minister and the Government have made it clear that this is an evolving scheme and any feedback and constructive criticism to improve the scheme would be welcome. This bill will bring control, choice and opportunity to those in our communities living with disabilities. It is important that we support this bill which will enable people with disabilities to live their lives in the way that they want to. The Government is proud of this bill and I commend Minister Ajaka for his work on it. The Minister would be the first to acknowledge his hardworking staff that he has mentioned to me on more than one occasion. He would like me to acknowledge and thank them for their efforts. Adam Zairth did an outstanding job in Health and has now become the Minister's chief of staff. He is a great asset. Alasdair Cameron, who is not on my upcoming preselection panel, is a bright young spark who does a great job. Warren Hudson, Nell Brown, Tina Daniels and Chelsea Collington also do outstanding work in the Minister's office. It is good to give credit where credit it is due. It would be appreciated if the member for Balmain gave the Government a bit more credit for its achievements. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr CLAYTON BARR (Cessnock) [10.33 a.m.]: I appreciate the Coalition Government's support for this important Labor initiative. The Government is trying to steal the glory now that the rubber is hitting the road but it was dragged kicking and screaming into signing up to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The veracity of that claim can be checked by reading the comments of Prime Minister Tony Abbott during the original debate on this issue. The object of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013 is to authorise and facilitate the transfer of the State's public sector disability service assets in connection with the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We need to know a number of things from the outset of this debate, the first of which is that Labor is extremely proud of the scheme and the opportunities it will bring.
The bipartisan support that now exists for this concept was based on some fairly broad brushstrokes. Some grander, big picture concepts were part of the discussion when the scheme was first touted; however, we are now at the pointy end and broad brushstrokes no longer suffice. We need significant, complete and complex detail about the entire scheme and not just the current Newcastle rollout. Much has been said about the rollout of the scheme in the Hunter and one could be forgiven for thinking that the scheme is broadly available in the whole region. The Hunter comprises 11 local government areas and the reality is that it is not available in all of them. In the 2013-14 financial year it is available only in the Newcastle local government area. In 2014-15 it will be available in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. In 2015-16 Maitland will be added to the areas in which the scheme is available and Cessnock will be added in 2017-18. Beyond 2018 it will be rolled out across the State and country.
It must be made clear that when we talk about the Hunter in this debate today we are specifically talking about the rollout in Newcastle. Constituents in the Cessnock electorate will not be able to access the scheme for three or four years. Because the pointy end of the legislation is directed only at Newcastle for now, the current concerns are Newcastle-centric. One area of concern is the Stockton Centre, which has been mentioned in this Chamber. Members have commented on the current condition of the centre, its future and potential funding for redevelopment. I acknowledge the contribution by the member for Newcastle to whom I spoke yesterday about the Stockton Centre. I also note the introductory remarks by the Minister for Finance and Services, Andrew Constance, representing the Minister for Ageing, and Minister for Disability Services.
I have had many discussions and briefings and undertaken a lot of background reading but I still do not understand how the Stockton Centre redevelopment will be paid for. As I understand it, there is no bucket of money available for infrastructure. The National Disability Insurance Scheme money is attached to the clients, who are the people with disabilities. We may talk about redeveloping the Stockton Centre but I am not sure where the dollars will come from and I would appreciate an explanation from the Minister in his speech in reply. My understanding of how infrastructure redevelopment would work under the scheme is that if 150 clients were based at Stockton and significant redevelopment was required each of those clients would be asked to make a contribution towards the cost. If it were necessary to spend $15 million or $20 million the clients might be asked to contribute $10,000 or $15,000 each from their funding. It is my understanding that there is no money for infrastructure. The funding provided through the scheme is personal money that belongs to each client. I would like the Minister to clarify this matter in his reply.
Some staff who live in the Cessnock electorate have contacted me about the rollout. They have concerns around the transfer of conditions, which has been spoken of ad nauseam during this debate. I will impart to the House the information I have on what is currently being rolled out to staff. The heads of agreement, which were negotiated, signed off and agreed to by the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, and the then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, are effective from 1 July 2018. The significance of that is that during the rollout between today in 2013 and 30 June 2018, there will be enormous uncertainty for staff about the transfer of the conditions. When staff who contacted my office asked the question, the response they were given was, "We don't know the answer to that. We cannot give you any assurances or guarantees because the heads of agreement are ineffective from 1 July 2018.
Mr Christopher Gulaptis: That is five years away.
Mr CLAYTON BARR: Across the Hunter staff who will be transferred out of Disability Services potentially tomorrow and the next day will have complete uncertainty about whether their terms and conditions of employment will be transferred.
Mr Christopher Gulaptis: What are you doing five years from now?
Mr CLAYTON BARR: I acknowledge the interjection by the member for Clarence because he has been through a process whereby public servants lost their working conditions. He knows that creates significant uncertainty and significant discomfort for workers and their families. We must acknowledge that. What will happen in relation to the transfer of conditions for workers? They want to stay in the sector, they want to work in disabilities, and they willingly and happily will transfer to a private operator, provided that the conditions are transferred with them. I think that is pretty reasonable. I ask the Minister to address that issue also during his reply and explain exactly how that will roll out on the ground.
Another concern of the staff is whether or not the level and qualifications for staff under the non-government sector or the private sector will be at the same standard as is currently expected in the government sector today. I think that is a pretty reasonable question as well. If there is one thing we know about privatisation, it is that sometimes the way to save money is on staffing. That might mean less skilled people or fewer people on the ground. These are reasonable questions. As I said, in broad terms we can all agree with the National Disability Insurance Scheme, but we need some details around the practicalities. Another issue that we should be checking on is permanency versus casual employment. Frequently in this House we speak about housing affordability and people being able to own their own home. We all realise and appreciate that it is very difficult to obtain a home loan if the applicant does not have permanent employment and an income. It also is a fairly reasonable concern.
Another concern that has been raised by staff is the fact that families of disabled people will have greater access to the funds owned by disabled people. While we would all like to think that all families do the very best with the money that is made available for their son or daughter who is a family member with a disability, in reality that is not always the case. An example cited to me was a family who wanted to access a client's money to take the dog to the veterinarian to have the dog healed or treated. The family of the disabled person argued that it was reasonable because the disabled person really loved the dog and the dog brought great warmth and joy to the disabled person's life. I do not know whether taking a dog to the veterinarian is a reasonable use of a disabled person's money. Another example concerns having the inside of the house painted because that would improve the life of the disabled person.
Another example is getting a new car. Arguably it may be justified if it is a disability access car and it could accommodate a wheelchair, but what if it is not? What if the car is just a sedan and not compatible with a wheelchair? These are the types of issues that an extreme minority of families use to apply for funding. Checks and balances must be in place. In conclusion, the National Disability Insurance Scheme is a great scheme. We agreed to it in broad terms, but now we are getting down to the details in Newcastle and that process will be widened throughout the Hunter in the next few years. We need to have those checks and balances. It is reasonable for me to ask the questions I have posed and it is reasonable for the Minister to address those concerns during his reply. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr MARK SPEAKMAN (Cronulla—Parliamentary Secretary) [10.43 a.m.]: I support the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013, which will facilitate the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in New South Wales. The National Disability Insurance Scheme is a historic reform shared between New South Wales and the Commonwealth. It will result in an additional 50,000 people in New South Wales receiving government support for the first time as funding more than doubles by 2018. Central to the campaign to instigate the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Australia was the right for people with disability to choose their supports and control their own funding. The National Disability Insurance Scheme is the outcome of a long and hard struggle by individuals, families, carers and their supporters. The New South Wales Government is determined to honour its commitment to provide choice to people with disabilities instead of people with disability having to fit the services offered to them.
Last year the Government committed to the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme with the first launch site to be in the Hunter. On 1 July this year, the National Disability Insurance Scheme was launched in the Hunter. Full transition to the Commonwealth system will be completed by mid-2018. By the end of the transition period New South Wales will no longer provide or fund disability services or basic community care supports. Instead, those services will be provided by a range of specialist non-government providers, and individuals will be free to choose where to direct their funding to purchase the services they want. This enormous growth in client demand also will require an additional workforce of approximately 25,000 people across New South Wales.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013 aims to remove some legislative barriers that would prevent a smooth transition of services to the non-government sector in a way that maintains continuity of services and minimises the liabilities for the State. The current legislation precludes many essential components required for that transition, such as the direction to transfer employees to other entities and the disposal of group home assets. The bill contains measures that the Government may need to complete the reform. I emphasise that the Government is empowered, but not compelled, to use those measures. The bill will enable the establishment of parameters for current services, assets and staff to transition into the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It also will enable a broad range of functions, including creating corporate entities, arrangements for staff and assets and vesting rights and liabilities by way of order.
The bill will enable the Government to enter into an agreement with the private sector entity under which the employment of staff can be transferred, recognising current staff provisions and the need to maintain expertise in the sector for continuity of support for people with disability. In response to the observations made by the member for Cessnock about continuity and security of employment for workers in this sector and their terms and conditions of employment, it is important to note that demand for skilled disability support staff is high and that opportunities for employees will be increasing. The National Disability Insurance Scheme in New South Wales will create an additional 25,000 jobs. People who are working in that sector currently have a promising future. So far as terms and conditions are concerned, it is important to note that we are operating in an environment in which Commonwealth legislation binds new employers to recognise State industrial instruments for transferring employees.
The bill will enable the maintenance of certain entitlements and award conditions on transfer and for detailed negotiations with new employers to be reflected in agreements. The best protection for workers and their terms and conditions is not excessive regulation but, rather, the strength they have that derives from the high demand for their services. What protects their terms and conditions is the high demand for their services. I hope that will give some comfort in relation to concerns raised by the member for Cessnock. The bill will enable vesting orders to be made in relation to assets, rights and liabilities. That will provide vital resources and infrastructure to the sector to enable the growth required for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Of the assets in the Disability Services portfolio, approximately 480 residential properties are currently used for supported accommodation. The bill will allow them to be vested by order to appropriate entities, which may include other parts of government, the community housing sector, non-government organisation disability providers and private sector organisations. The bill has mechanisms that are necessarily flexible to enable the transition of a wide range of services in a way that promotes the best outcomes for people with disability in New South Wales. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr JAMIE PARKER (Balmain) [10.48 a.m.]: On behalf of The Greens, I address the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013 which is before the House. The bill already has been passed by the upper House of the State Parliament with the support of The Greens, and I will support the bill in this place. However, I will take some time to outline some of the potential risks and some of the concerns that have been expressed to me by parents and carers of people with a disability as well as by staff who work currently in the public sector but who will be transferred to the non-government sector. As we know, this bill provides the legislative framework for the Government to transfer disability service employees and assets to the non-government sector or other public sector agencies, including the Commonwealth, as part of the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. By the end of the transition period, in July 2018, it is anticipated that depending upon demand the New South Wales Government will no longer provide or fund disability services, so there will be a complete exit of the New South Wales Government from the disability sector. This bill enables the development of transfer processes that allow continuity of services and staffing. That is the aim of the bill. We have heard members talk about the fact that we are now dealing with the detail in the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and, as we know, the devil is often in the detail.
I congratulate—and I am sure all members congratulate—those individuals who care for a child or young person because, frankly, they have to be fighters. In my electorate many people who have children or who care for children with disabilities are activists by nature of the fact that they have children with such high needs. These activists or fighters are one of the reasons for the introduction of this legislation, which we all support. The rollout has started in four launch sites and, as announced, the O'Farrell Government was the first State Government to sign on to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, committing $3.1 billion, with the Federal Government providing $3.3 billion. We have all heard about the positive aspects of this bill. My job in this place is to examine the detail—the potential risks and concerns. One concern I have is that the bill enables the Minister for Disability Services to transfer State sector disability services assets and employees to the non-government sector. The heads of agreement between the Commonwealth and the New South Wales governments signed by Premier O'Farrell and Prime Minister Gillard included:
- 33. Following commencement of the full NDIS, the NSW Government will not provide any residual specialist disability services or basic community care services.
For more than 12,000 of the 14,000 people employed by Ageing, Disability and Home Care [ADHC], entitlements such as long service leave and superannuation will be preserved, but other employment guarantees such as permanency will be negotiated. That is causing some concern amongst staff in this sector. I will outline a number of reasons why I think this needs to be highlighted as a concern. We know that full privatisation, or the exit of the government sector from disability service provision, is not compulsory; it is not critical to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The Productivity Commission inquiry report entitled, "Disability Care and Support" and dated July 2013 explicitly identified a role for State provision. At page 18 under the section headed, "What would it mean for the States and Territories", which refers to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the report states:
- The potential to continue as service providers—but on a competitively neutral basis with other providers.
According to the Minister's second reading speech:
- For the National Disability Insurance Scheme to be truly innovative and responsive to the needs of people with disability, the non-Government sector needs to grow and flourish.
Of course the non-government sector needs to grow and flourish, but this ignores the potential for the government sector to be innovative and responsive. We have a fantastic government sector with a number of committed staff members who are doing the right thing by the people for whom they care. This statement does not justify the complete privatisation of public provision. It ignores the ability of the non-government sector to grow and flourish in a mixed public and community sector. I will highlight three or four risks that I see in these steps and urge the Government to consider these matters carefully. There is no evidence that denial of public sector choice will improve outcomes for people with disability. The bill is designed to bring to an end the option of public sector provision. That is, in a sense, reducing the choice of people involved in this sector to have exclusive non-government engagement. We heard the Minister state the following:
- For the National Disability Insurance Scheme to be truly innovative and responsive to the needs of people with disability, the non-government sector needs to grow and flourish. I will take a moment to explain why this is necessary: non-government organisations are mainly inclusive, participatory and quality-focused, and they have the capacity to generate social capital in a way that government and the private sector cannot. That social capital is critical to maximising advantages for people with disability and other vulnerable groups.
That undermines the efforts of the 14,000 public sector workers who are involved in this sector and who, in my view, do a sterling job. The Minister has not mounted a case that the public sector needs to be dismantled in order for a diverse non-government sector to develop. Obviously, significant disruption will happen. I have been contacted by two families in particular. One family has a child with high and complex needs. Those family members have spent a great deal of time trying to find the right place for their son. They are happy with the provider which is funded through the New South Wales Government and they do not want to see a change. They have been through a traumatic and difficult period. This will cause significant disruption as some 40 per cent of disability services recipients will move to new providers—an issue that must be managed carefully and with respect to all those involved.
With the exit of the public sector under these provisions there is no provider of last resort. While non-government providers are subject to business failures and unpredictable changes in policy and direction, public providers have in the past provided a base of certainty that enables clients to explore new delivery, secure in the knowledge that they can access a public provider if things do not work out. This will not be the case in the future. It also is clear that while public sector agencies can take risk, there is underlying certainty of continuity in the public sector, which benefits people with a disability. There also is concern about the thin market problem. We know in economics that is something that is obvious in rural and regional areas where the provision of services in the non-government sector is not very robust and the government sector does the heavy lifting. That is something that needs to be radically changed under these proposals as there are people with complex needs. We know that the complexity of some people's needs might not match the capabilities of non-government service providers. That is a challenge that must be addressed. I am aware of the Stockton issues where a variety of State services are collated in one residential setting. It appears that the longevity and health of many of the residents—and I am sure we have all heard those stories—stem directly from the accumulation of expertise and learning, and the availability of on-site health, dental, occupational and psychological services. This model is unlikely to be replicated in the non-government sector, which typically does not bring together a range of different services under one management. Cooperative arrangements between different non-government service providers will require time and effort to develop and may not be within the organisational capacity of many community organisations. This is a challenge.
We support the direction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, but the exit of the public sector leaves us with a number of concerns. In South Australia the public sector has not completely exited the market. In South Australia government disability services will continue. The evidence in South Australia—which is obviously a different market—demonstrates that it is not compulsory or necessary for the public sector to withdraw. In addition to the issues I have raised about parents and carers of people with disability, I have been approached by staff members who work in the government sector who are concerned that pay in the non-government sector is significantly less than it is in the public sector. While their conditions are protected, there is concern about downward pressure on wages and conditions in future as their forced transfer to a new employer might bring with it in the long term the lower rates and conditions that are present in the non-government sector.
In conclusion, concern was expressed in the other place about the speed with which this bill was introduced and the lack of consultation. The parents with whom I have been dealing in my local electorate are vulnerable—people who struggle every day with the complex needs of their children who try to get good services and conditions. It is incumbent on this Government to proceed through this process carefully, slowly and diligently, especially in light of the fact that the State is exiting from service provision—a dramatic change and something about which I am very concerned. I would prefer it if the public sector remained in the mix, but I understand that is not the aim of the Government. I will be supporting this bill.
Mr CHRIS HOLSTEIN (Gosford) [10.58 a.m.]: I support the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013. I commend Minister Ajaka and, most definitely, his predecessor Minister Constance on their great work. Late last year New South Wales was the first State to sign up to the National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS] through a heads of agreement with the Commonwealth Government. This bill enables New South Wales to begin the process to ensure the success of the National Disability Insurance Scheme for those in our community with disabilities. Essentially, the bill lays down a platform over the next five years to give people with disabilities uninterrupted support as they migrate to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, encourage skilled people to remain working in disability services and strengthen the capacity of the disability service sector to transfer buildings, equipment and other assets. The bill enables the Government to put in place a range of possible options for transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme without committing the Government to any particular option.
The evolution and transition to a National Disability Insurance Scheme will result in placing in the hands of people with disability real choice and control over the supports they need to live the life they want. The scheme will benefit approximately 140,000 people with disability in New South Wales by enabling them to plan their individual funding packages to purchase supports based on an assessment of their capacity and, most definitely, their circumstances. By 2018 the New South Wales Government will spend $3.1 billion each year on the National Disability Insurance Scheme along with the Commonwealth's annual spend of $3.3 billion, equating to a total funding package of $6.4 billion. The scheme was launched in the Hunter area this year and will result in approximately 10,000 people accessing it over the coming three years. This enables the Government to design a steady-as-she-goes approach as part of a progressive rollout across the remainder of the State from July 2016.
Importantly, all policy and operational parameters will be established, tested and confirmed prior to the full State rollout. Our Government is contributing $585 million to this first-stage rollout. Early feedback is encouraging in that most processes seem to be working, but the next three years is the time for finer tuning. However, importantly, for the first time people with disability will have a choice and control over their support needs rather than continuing the prescriptive nature of services. This new approach will deliver many benefits, including a more competitive and vibrant sector in service and supports across New South Wales communities as they respond to the needs of the disability sector and the introduction of the choice model.
This shift from a prescriptive approach to one of choice and control is monumental and will herald a cultural change from those who service the disability sector into the future. New South Wales has a wide and diverse non-government sector numbering in the thousands that caters to the disability and community care area. I take this opportunity to mention several organisations in my area. No greater example of a fine organisation dealing with people with disabilities on the Central Coast is there than Coastlink, led by chief executive officer Lynne Rainford and her fine team. We have also the legendary Fairhaven Services, which has operated for decades under the outstanding effort of chief executive officer Jim Buultjens and his team. The Central Coast Disability Network and many others in the area provide services and assist those in our community with disabilities. All of these organisations are embracing the change through the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Being in close contact with their local communities, these organisations have the ability to be innovative and risk taking.
The Government can and will support these organisations to enable them to access a skilled and experienced workforce to achieve the innovation people crave. From 2018 New South Wales will hand over responsibility to the National Disability Insurance Agency for sector development and support funding. This will mean that the existing State service capacity, workforce and expertise will be placed in the hands of the non-government sector and reinvested in the marketplace for the National Disability Insurance Scheme to be successful. The key purpose of the bill is to provide for this transfer through three clear objectives: first, to ensure that the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme delivers maximum continuity of services for people with disability as they make decisions about their future; secondly, to promote the retention of a skilled disability services workforce; and, thirdly, to maximise the capacity of the disability service sector. The bill has been drafted to provide flexibility in the transactions required to implement the move to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr GUY ZANGARI (Fairfield) [11.04 a.m.]: I contribute to the debate on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013. The object of the bill is to authorise and facilitate the transfer of the State's public sector disability services assets in connection with the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme of the Commonwealth. The bill makes detailed arrangements also for the transfer of the employment and entitlements of public sector disability services employees. Presently the non-government disability sector delivers approximately 60 per cent of all disability support services within this State. New South Wales already has invested heavily through the Industry Development Fund to these non-government offices to ensure the sector has the skills and capacity to operate the existing government-run services. Considering the magnitude of the services being provided, it makes sense for the Government to confer more support on the non-government sector to help alleviate the burden on any one agency and to ensure that disabled individuals within our State receive the highest quality care possible.
Clauses 5 and 6 of part 1 of the bill set out and authorise the transfer of assets from the public sector agencies to non-government agencies or to any other public sector agency. This section also confers the power upon the Minister to subsequently provide financial assistance to a person in the non-government sector to whom disability services assets are transferred for the purposes of the authorised implementation. Transferring services to the non-government sector has been underway for over a decade and so far non-government agencies have proved themselves capable of handling and even improving these services. An absolute priority is to ensure that high-quality care and ongoing support services are made available for individuals in our State. Under the former Labor Government, all Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care day programs were shifted to the non-government sector, which was viewed as widely successful, resulting in the delivery of quality, innovative and person-oriented support services throughout New South Wales. I am glad that another fantastic Labor policy, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, has been adopted by the New South Wales Government and that those in need of disability services across our State will receive the assistance they require.
Mr Christopher Gulaptis: Funded by the Coalition.
ACTING-SPEAKER (Ms Sonia Hornery): Order! I call the member for Clarence to order for the first time.
Mr Clayton Barr: Funded by the taxpayer.
ACTING-SPEAKER (Ms Sonia Hornery): Order! I call the member for Cessnock to order for the first time.
Mr GUY ZANGARI: The National Disability Insurance Scheme is a landmark piece of legislation that will start the rollout of a plethora of support services that will ensure anyone with a disability in New South Wales will have more options in more locations and support services readily available to assist them. This transition will pave the way for newer, innovative services to be implemented throughout our local communities, which in turn will significantly benefit disabled individuals in this State. According to the 2011 Census data, approximately 9.1 per cent of individuals in my electorate of Fairfield require help in their day-to-day lives—a significant increase from the 2006 Census data. The growth of disability support services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme will be an enormous boon for those with a disability in my electorate as their lives will be better sooner rather than later.
The implementation of this legislation and the subsequent range of readily available disability support services throughout this State can only bode well for the disabled residents of New South Wales. I have mentioned previously in this Chamber the wonderful workers and, of course, volunteers at the Australian Foundation for Disability [AFFORD] in Canley Vale. I have had the wonderful opportunity on many occasions to visit this marvellous organisation and meet many of its clients. The member for Menai nods in agreement because she too understands the vital work that the Australian Foundation for Disability does not only in my electorate but around New South Wales. The Australian Foundation for Disability is a champion organisation doing great work, particularly to better its Canley Vale facilities through funding from the Community Building Partnerships program. I take my hat off to the wonderful people at the Australian Foundation for Disability in Canley Vale and those providing disability support services across New South Wales. They do a wonderful job in supporting our constituents who have disabilities. I support the bill.
Ms MELANIE GIBBONS (Menai) [11.10 a.m.]: I am pleased to support the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013. As someone who worked in the disability sector for a few years, I had the opportunity to meet ordinary families who had children living with a disability: mums and dads who were making sacrifices in their careers, their budgets or their social lives to provide help for their son or daughter who required more care than most children. Some parents had to give up full-time work to become full-time carers for their children because there was no other way to afford the level of care. Even if they could afford the care, it often was not available at the level they needed or did not have the scope they required.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is Australia's once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get it right. We still have a long way to go, but I am hopeful because I believe that the scheme will be the first step in giving some of our nation's most vulnerable the support and care they deserve. I have seen firsthand the urgent need for the scheme. I believe people with a disability, their families and carers have waited for far too long. In New South Wales, the Liberals and Nationals already are getting on with the job of personalising service delivery. We have to be ready to go when the National Disability Insurance Scheme is introduced. That is why we are starting to reform the disability sector and improve service delivery to people with a disability and their carers.
Led by our Minister for Ageing and Minister for Disability Services, the Hon. John Ajaka, the Government is committed to empowering people with a disability and allowing them to pick and choose the services they want, rather than being dictated to about the services they can have and the organisations that will provide them. This is a basic human right. This bill provides an opportunity for New South Wales to seize the growing momentum of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and take steps to ensure this generational reform can meet its full potential. For far too long, people with disability have had to fit into the services offered to them, without the power to direct how those supports should be delivered. The National Disability Insurance Scheme builds upon the work being done at State level to redesign this system and represents the greatest single investment in disability in history at both the State and Commonwealth levels.
I thank my colleagues across the floor for their contribution to this historic reform. I also thank all those whose commitment to change has brought about this scheme. It will mean that, more than ever before, a person with disability will have far greater opportunities to live the life they want and make a real and meaningful contribution to their community. The National Disability Insurance Scheme launch is underway in the Hunter. Only four months in, there are already reports of the scheme bringing about positive outcomes for people in the way they live their lives. This will increase as the launch phase continues. The transition to the scheme across the rest of the State is to take place between 2016 and 2018. By mid-2018 the Commonwealth will have full responsibility for administering the scheme, through the National Disability Insurance Agency.
It was agreed when New South Wales committed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme in December last year that once the scheme was fully in force New South Wales would no longer be a provider of specialist disability services or community care supports. I understand that this was for a number of reasons, but the most relevant is that the non-government organisation [NGO] sector can do it better. The diverse range of non-government organisations in New South Wales is often locally based, more responsive and able to be more innovative than government providers. New South Wales must do all it can to boost the valuable non-government sector so that it, in turn, can deliver the best supports to people with disability within a competitive market. The bill before the House aims to do just that.
The transfer of the New South Wales government service capacity to alternative providers will be crucial to ensuring the sector has the capacity to meet demand, which is expected to expand from 90,000 people currently supported in New South Wales to 140,000 by mid-2018. More than that, the measures in the bill are designed to ensure that this transition takes place in a way that is seamless for those people currently receiving services. This is the Government's number one priority. When I worked at TAD Disability Services, we were always being told that it was difficult to secure funding for disability equipment, particularly for equipment that was not deemed necessary or therapeutic. Families were often forced to turn to community fundraising to pay for equipment such as modified bikes, which were seen as non-essential but were incredibly beneficial recreational items. This is not right. Each piece of equipment has a cost, and each therapist, specialist and respite program has a cost. Having a disability is not cheap.
The bill provides for implementation arrangements to be made that include the capacity to establish corporate and other entities and to package service delivery in a way that is appealing to the sector. It enables the transfer of the invaluable State disability workforce in a way that means that people with disability can continue to be supported by the staff that support them now. These relationships are of critical importance, particularly when so many changes already are taking place. The bill also offers protections to those staff moving into the disability sector, including the transfer of annual leave, sick leave and superannuation entitlements. Other protections can be built into agreements with new employers, including employment guarantee periods. New South Wales wants to give staff the best start in the sector, which is going to need thousands more people over the coming years.
The bill enables State assets to be vested in organisations in ways that enable them to be used most effectively for the delivery of services. Where these assets are land based, such as group homes, the bill contains mechanisms to transfer these assets in a range of ways and to safeguard the interests of the State. Sweeping change is underway in the disability sector, which will mean that people with disability in New South Wales and throughout the country will have far greater opportunities than ever before. As a local member, I am happy to offer any advice I can to the sector. Last week, the Minister for Disability Services, the Hon. John Ajaka, and I met with Disability South West to talk about that organisation's needs now and in the future as it transitions to the scheme. I also met with the Autism Advisory and Support Service and the Young Adults Disabled Association to discuss the support that they will need during the transition phase. I urge members to support this bill to enable New South Wales and the disability sector to deliver the best outcomes for people under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I thank the staff, the boards and the volunteers of all the organisations involved. I support the bill and commend it to the House.
Mr PAUL TOOLE (Bathurst—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.17 a.m.]: I am proud to support the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013. This bill is necessary to enable New South Wales to take its first steps towards ensuring the success of the National Disability Insurance Scheme for people with disability in our community. This agreement represents a historic milestone for people with disability and their families and carers not only in New South Wales but throughout this country. It establishes the means by which to deliver equitable and adequate support for people with disability, many of whom have struggled for so long without access to the support they need to live with dignity and respect.
The agreement places real choice and control in the hands of people with disability. The reforms will be delivered through a partnership between New South Wales and the Commonwealth Government and will benefit approximately 140,000 people with disability in New South Wales. The New South Wales commitment of $3.1 billion will enable people with disability to plan individual funding packages to purchase supports, based on an assessment of their capacity and circumstances. In addition, the Commonwealth will provide $3.3 billion, making the total funding $6.4 billion. When I speak to families and individuals on this topic, one of the biggest issues for them is the minefield that has to be navigated to obtain the necessary support. Many families and individuals find it difficult to get the right package. They have to go to different departments and organisations, and getting the necessary support can be a long and arduous trial.
This new insurance scheme will ensure that those with a disability can receive a package that is best suited to their needs. It is a wonderful improvement and I am pleased it has bipartisan support. The scheme will benefit not only New South Wales but also the entire country. The National Disability Insurance Scheme will allow people with disability to have choice and control over their support services. It will lead to more positive outcomes. Already a suite of support is provided by a diverse disability and community care non-government sector, from small, local volunteer-organised services to large and complex non-government providers.
If the National Disability Insurance Scheme is to be truly innovative and responsive to the needs of people with disability, the non-government sector needs to grow and flourish because non-government organisations are mainly inclusive, participatory and focused on quality. They have the capacity to generate social capital in a way that the government and private sectors cannot. Social capital is critical to maximise advantages for people with disability and other vulnerable groups. Thousands of non-government organisations across New South Wales provide an economic and social benefit. A government service is more conservative, whereas non-government organisations can take risks and influence the views of the community and government about the people they support, leading to greater inclusion, acceptance and transfer of knowledge.
The New South Wales Government has an obligation to people who are currently supported. It should do everything within its power to enable them to engage with the National Disability Insurance Scheme so they have every opportunity to make real choices about their future and not be constrained by the current models of support. From 2018 New South Wales will no longer provide or fund disability or community care support. The National Disability Insurance Agency will take over responsibility for the development of the sector and the funding of support. This means that the knowledge and expertise of the existing State service needs to be placed in the hands of the non-government sector and reinvested in the marketplace for the National Disability Insurance Scheme to succeed. This bill paves the way for its future.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme supports 90,000 people with disability in New South Wales. It provides services that include supported accommodation in group homes, respite centres, therapy services and community-based support. The staff at these facilities who take on the role of working with people with a disability and their families and carers are special people who do a magnificent job. This bill indicates the biggest investment in the provision of disability services, from State-directed support to self-directed support. This issue is above politics. Its aim is to provide the best assistance to those who are most vulnerable. The Government has worked in a bipartisan way with the Commonwealth to get the best deal for people with disabilities and their carers. This is an historic outcome that continues the New South Wales Liberal-Nationals Government's record of reform in social services. It is an investment in the future of the provision of disability services and, more importantly, the future of people with disability in our community as a whole. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr JONATHAN O'DEA (Davidson) [11.24 a.m.]: The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013 allows a transition to occur to ensure that people with disabilities in New South Wales can participate fully in the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This legislation empowers people with disabilities to have choice and control over the services and support they need to pursue their own direction in life. It requires services to be provided on the basis of meeting individual needs of people with disabilities, which is the core aim of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It is a move from a fragmented State-based system to one that is national and much better funded and from which obstacles are removed to enable people to more easily reach their potential in life.
The disability sector in New South Wales will grow, with annual funding to be increased from $2.5 billion to more than $6 billion when the National Disability Insurance Scheme is fully rolled out in 2018. However, the National Disability Insurance Scheme is not only about a welcome financial injection. The reform promotes an innovative, flexible and tailored injection to each individual. Although there will be change for many employees, and change is never easy, there should be no shortage of future employment opportunities in the sector. As John Della Bosca, former New South Wales Minister and campaign director for Every Australian Counts stated, the National Disability Insurance Scheme is designed to shift choice and control for people with disabilities and their families and this requires a market with diverse disability services.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme reform will result in changing service patterns, including a shift from the public sector to non-government providers. Accordingly, skilled employees should be able to transfer to non-government organisations from the public sector and potentially maintain the continuity of caring relationships while at the same time having their employment conditions appropriately protected. Having said that, it is also important that government liability is reasonably controlled. As the Minister in the other place has indicated, the movement of services will be carefully thought out following detailed scoping, investigation and examination of the best options for people with disability, the current workforce and the sector at large. This approach to prudent progress is warranted and admirable. The bill also builds the capacity and flexibility of the disability services sector by making it possible to transfer buildings, equipment and other assets.
The Public Accounts Committee, which I chair, recently tabled a report of the NSW Audit Office which called on the New South Wales Government to extend the Auditor-General's performance audit functions to non-government agencies when performing functions on behalf of the State. The National Disability Insurance Scheme and its broader reforms and trends towards outsourcing various other community services make this recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee even more important. Finally, I pay my respect to those who work in Ageing, Disability and Home Care and to those who have worked hard to establish and implement the new National Disability Insurance Scheme. This extends to leaders, past and present, across the political divide. It also includes people in my own electorate such as Sue O'Reilly and Katrina Clarke. Much remains to be done. I continue to support those who do the heavy lifting, as I have tried to do in the past. I commend the bill to the House.
Ms SONIA HORNERY (Wallsend) [11.30 a.m.]: I thank the Government for giving me the opportunity to speak in debate on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013. This is one of the most important bills that Parliament has dealt with this year. For me, one of the main incentives in becoming a member of Parliament was to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable in our society were represented along with the needs of others. I agree with the National Disability Insurance Scheme principles of choice and equal rights for people living with disabilities. However, I have serious concerns about some aspects of the bill that put at risk the rights of government workers and the quality of care of members of the disability community. The bill may cause unnecessary fear for family members and parents of residents at the Stockton, Kanangra and Tomaree centres.
I have had a lot of involvement with workers, clients and their families. The number one message I hear time and time again is that people are afraid. They feel that the Government is railroading them; they are not being heard. Enough politicians have had their say on this matter; we need to hear more from those whom this bill will affect. I take this opportunity to read into Hansard two excerpts from interviews conducted by my office with disability workers over the past few weeks. The first is from an interview with Michael Grant, a hardworking nurse at the Stockton Centre. He said:
- Unfortunately, what they're doing is devolving this model of care. The model of care that these clients have is the best that can be there for them. They have medical needs, all sorts of medical needs. They have seizures all the time … eating and drinking problems … sleep problems … behaviour problems … all the problems under the sun that most people in their life time would never come across. Unfortunately, without the specialised care that these guys are gonna need they're gonna go to the community and get someone with a licence and a first aid certificate.
The information [about the Stockton Centre], they use is old information. The information they use is mostly from overseas and in the past there were institutions, there were asylums as John Ryan said. Nowadays, look at the model we have now. We have a bunch of people who look after clients in a caring, interested, involved way …that's the model they should be developing. Unfortunately, because of the public's unawareness of the way things have changed in the last 10 or 15 years. Maybe 20 years. In that time things have changed so much.
One of the good things that's happened is the Stockton Centre went from being a hospital, which is a "get out of my space" kind of environment to a situation where you ask the client, you look at the client, you identify what the client needs. At Stockton, the client educates us.
Really what they need to realise now is this is a community. It is not an institution. It is a gated community. They're becoming common practice. Lots of people live in them. Why can't these people?
The next interview was conducted with an Ageing, Disability and Home Care worker who was very concerned that I not use their name for fear of their being reprimanded for speaking out. The worker said:
- All our group homes are 24 hour staffed. So they have active shifts 24 hours a day. That is because some clients have high medical needs and they need to be checked regularly through the night. For example they may have epilepsy, they may need to be turned, they may be at risk of choking. It could be someone with dementia who wanders through the night.
Under ADHC we currently have an active night shift. So you come in on an afternoon shift where you start at 3pm [and] go home at 11pm, the next shift comes in at 11pm and works through to the morning, so there is always someone on duty.
The non-government sector does not pay active night shift. They have what's called a sleep over shift. Which works like this: I work on the afternoon shift I get paid 8 hours, they then have a bed in that house that staff can sleep in, so then I go to bed in that house at 11. I may have to get up one or two times in a night for a client. For that I get an allowance. You stay there til 7 in the morning and then you go home. You get a $35 allowance. You come back for the next afternoon shift. For that 8 hours from 11 til 7 you're not paid. It is called a sleep over shift.
Who wants to work for 16 hours and get paid for 8? And then there's the whole issue of client risk as well. We have active shifts because the clients need us …
- This enabling bill is handing [us] over, lock stock and barrel—ADHC care centres, the clients and the staff. They're not going to be able to maintain current conditions. There's going to be a mass exodus of staff. As a staff member I don't want to go and work for a non-government organisation. I have a passion for the ladies I work with. I'm worried about them. I am worried about what's going to happen to them.
The quality of care provided at the Stockton, Tomaree and Kanangra centres is second to none. Their highly qualified staff are kind and respectful. I am very proud that in the Hunter community, and in my Wallsend electorate, we have the calibre of the staff who work at the Stockton Centre—from the plumbers to the general service support staff, nurses and other clinicians. I take my hat off to you all.
Before I conclude I seek a response from the Government to the following vital questions on behalf of the community, residents and staff at the Stockton, Kanangra and Tomaree centres. Will the Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services confirm that Stockton will remain open after 2018—we want that in writing—and in what capacity? Will the residents who choose to remain at the Stockton Centre be permitted to do so? Part 4 of the bill deals with the transfer and vesting of assets and that includes "six large residential centres". What will happen to the Stockton Centre? The next question reiterates the concern expressed by the member for Cessnock: When will funding be provided for the potential redevelopment of Stockton and from which budget? What are the details of the capital works involved?
How will the Government ensure that a high quality of care will continue with non-government organisations who pay their staff—as members well know—significantly less? They do not require the same qualifications as those in the public sector and, unfortunately, some are profit driven. How will the Government ensure that the individual rights of people with disabilities are protected—especially if a religious organisation is given a contract of work? What if the values of the religious organisation do not coincide with those of the person with disability? I will be voting in support of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013 as a starting point. This is the very first step. But in moving forward it is our responsibility to look seriously at the issues being raised by those at the coal face and to work with current disability workers, clients and families to develop policy that best serves those who are most in need in our community.
Mrs ROZA SAGE (Blue Mountains) [11.37 a.m.]: I am pleased to have the opportunity to make a contribution in support of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013. I was extremely surprised and dismayed by the comments of the member for Wallsend because my involvement with the disability sector in my electorate is completely different from hers. The majority of disability providers in my area are non-government organisations. They are qualified professionals and do a brilliant job. The time has come for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and those with a disability are looking forward to it keenly. When I talk to people with a disability, their families and carers in my electorate they convey to me the sentiment that they want that choice. They want to have a say in how they live their lives and what services they use. One mother named Fran told me that she would like to transition her son, Josh, into an independent living environment—not a group home but a small flat. Josh has Down syndrome. He could do this with some assistance, and he wants to. Fran told me that the National Disability Insurance Scheme will make this dream possible.
The service providers are also keen to see what their role will be and how they will need to change to adapt. I have many professional and caring disability providers in my electorate. I have been to visit all that have a presence in the Blue Mountains and I can say without hesitation that their professionalism and the way they care for their clients is without question and beyond reproach. I serve on the fundraising board of Greystanes Disability Service, the Greystanes Foundation. I often talk with the chief executive officer of that organisation, John Le Breton, about what the National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS] will mean to it. Greystanes is eager and ready to participate in the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and in fact is already providing a brokerage service similar to that proposed under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Greystanes clients are mostly very high dependency, with both physical and intellectual needs.
The introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013 is a momentous step forward in the evolution of disability services in New South Wales. Now that the National Disability Insurance Scheme launch project has been underway in the Hunter region for four months, it is imperative that the Government put in place a legislative framework to ensure the success of the scheme in New South Wales and fulfil the Government's commitments to people with a disability. The initial trial in the Hunter is precisely that—a trial to iron out any difficulties with rolling out the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It is disappointing to see the politicking around this important initiative.
I mentioned previously in this House how the former Federal Labor Government used the National Disability Insurance Scheme for political pointscoring, with the former Federal Minister for Disability Reform announcing a rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in electorates—of which Blue Mountains was one—without any consultation. This was very disappointing. We had heard that there was to be a bipartisan approach to empowering people with a disability. However, disappointingly, the trust that the Labor Party would do the right thing by people with a disability was destroyed. It was heartening to see at the recent Federal election that the people of Australia recognised this untrustworthiness.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is a social insurance scheme that addresses the need for a new, better-coordinated funding model for people with a disability rather than the current State-based approach. It establishes a single national system that provides individualised funding to people with a disability and which is based on need. Instead of funding being allocated to service providers, as is currently the case in New South Wales, individuals will be given direct access to funding that they can administer either by themselves or through a broker, giving them greater choice and control in the provision of their supports. If their service provider is doing such a fantastic job then I am sure that people will stay with their current service provider.
The disability provider sector has come a long way from people being institutionalised, with group homes and rigid programs, to now becoming person centred and individualised. This is not only a huge shift in thinking for some; it also requires profound system-wide change in the way that we provide services to people with a disability in New South Wales if it is to succeed. For many years the New South Wales Government and community sector agencies have provided a range of supports to people with a disability in New South Wales. Ageing, Disability and Home Care and the services it funds have developed enormous expertise and experience in the provision of disability services. This experience has seen a shift away from program-funded service provision to client-focused, holistic service delivery, consistent with the National Disability Insurance Scheme approach.
The service providers in the Blue Mountains I have spoken to are shifting to this approach. Greystanes Disability Services has a Leura day options program as well as one-on-one activities to suit the needs of the client. Blue Mountains Disability Services, Eloura, another provider in my electorate, earlier in the year participated in the Challenge Awards, which are based on the structure of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Participants chose a variety of skills through which to challenge themselves. Some of them took up photography. Some learned how to put up a tent. Those who were physically able tried climbing a climbing wall. These were activities the clients chose to do. This Friday night Kirinari Community Services will hold a ball, which is the social activity their clients chose. None of them had been to a ball before and it is something they wanted to experience. I look forward to attending the ball and enjoying the night with the Kirinari clients.
Similarly, the Nepean Area Disabilities Organisation [NADO] and Civic Residential Services at Blackheath in the Blue Mountains have wonderful, dedicated staff whose prime goal is to enhance the lives of people with a disability in their care. Hence the next step in the National Disability Insurance Scheme is to redesign the disability services sector and move from government-directed to client-directed services. This requires New South Wales to invest its disability service resources in the non-government sector so that it can better meet demand for this approach. The care, concern, flexibility and excellent service that non-government organisations provide in the Blue Mountains allays any concerns in my mind regarding the transitioning of services to the non-government sector.
The bill defines clear objectives to guide this process: continuity of service provision for people with a disability, continuity of employment for people providing those services and a commitment to building the capacity of the disability services sector through the transfer of government assets to that sector. Given that the demand for disability services is expected to increase greatly when the National Disability Insurance Scheme is running fully by mid-2018, a concomitant increase in the number of staff will also be needed. An estimated 50,000 extra people will be able to access support for the first time. Given that the National Disability Insurance Scheme is in only its first stage of operation, it is important that the processes by which the bill seeks to achieve its objectives are open and flexible so that feedback on the scheme from people with a disability, their families and carers, service providers and community organisations can be taken into account.
It is also important that that process starts now not only to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible but also to give the sector enough time to expand to meet growing demand and adapt as lessons are learned from the launch. This is an exciting and challenging period in the evolution of disability services in New South Wales. The bill establishes the foundation for the future of disability services in this State. It is eagerly anticipated by people with a disability, their families and carers. It is the right thing to do for people with a disability. I congratulate the Minister for Disability Services, John Ajaka, and the previous Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance, on pursuing the cause of people with a disability, which has culminated in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013. I commend the bill to the House.
Mrs LESLIE WILLIAMS (Port Macquarie) [11.47 a.m.]: I am pleased today to speak on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013. The introduction of the bill in this House marks a significant and historical day for people with disabilities, their carers and their families across New South Wales. It is momentous in that the way we deliver services and funding to those with disabilities is about to change, and change for the better. I know this as someone who grew up as a carer for my younger brother, Phillip, who has lived with severe physical and intellectual disabilities his entire life. Like my parents, who have cared for him for the past almost 50 years, I know how important it is that people with disabilities are treated as individuals and are provided with services that address their unique needs and wants.
I congratulate the Minister in the other place, the Hon. John Ajaka, and his predecessor, the Hon. Andrew Constance, on their determination to see change. But I do wonder why it has taken so long for legislatures to realise that one size does not fit all—it does not work for the rest of the population so why did we think it would work for those with disabilities? My brother Phillip is as individual as you and I; and, as with the rest of us, he has his likes and his dislikes. He likes music, he likes to be active, he likes to socialise with others and he likes to watch sport, particularly when his sisters, nieces and nephews are on the field. He likes to go for drives, he likes to eat out, and he does not mind a beer every now and then. Sitting in a room with others with disabilities who are unable to communicate will not satisfy his needs, and expecting him to sit at a table and undertake some activities will in a short time see him frustrated and bored. There is not a single reason why he and my parents should not have the right to choose the support services they want to use and be in control of government funding that best suits their needs.
So it is exciting that people with disabilities will no longer have to fit into the services that are on offer; rather, they will have the opportunity to choose the services they want based on what best fits their individual needs. This is a generational change. By passing this bill we can be confident that New South Wales will be able to seize the opportunities that form the basis of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. These reforms, which are shared between the New South Wales and Commonwealth governments, will see an additional 50,000 people with disabilities in our State receive government support for the first time and funding will more than double by 2018.
In 2012 the New South Wales Government made a commitment to implement a scheme that put the person with a disability at the centre of decision-making. On 1 July 2013 the Government launched the first site in the Hunter and we will see a full transition to the Commonwealth system completed by mid-2018. As well as providing enormous benefits to people with disabilities, the transformation of this sector will result in an additional 25,000 people across New South Wales being employed in a workforce that effectively responds to people's needs. There will need to be some legislative change in order for a smooth transition of services to the non-government sector that will provide continuity of services.
The object of the bill is to authorise and facilitate the transfer of the State's public sector disability services assets in connection with the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme of the Commonwealth. The bill also makes detailed arrangements for the transfer of the employment and entitlements of public sector disability services employees. The bill will empower the Government with measures that it may require to complete these reforms and enables the establishment of parameters for current services, assets and staff to transition into the scheme; the creation of corporate entities, arrangements for staff and assets and vesting rights and liabilities by way of order; and the ability to transfer the employment of staff through an agreement with a private sector entity. It is vital that this is made possible to ensure we maintain the expertise and skills of those who are already working in the disability sector.
The bill will enable the maintenance of certain entitlements and award conditions on transfer and will enable vesting orders to be made in relation to assets, rights and liabilities. I note for example that some 480 residential properties are currently used for supported accommodation. The bill will allow for these to be vested to the appropriate entities, which may include other areas of government, the community housing sector, non-government organisation disability providers or private sector organisations. It is important that the Government make sure there is a smooth transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The bill will enable that to happen. Our focus must always remain on ensuring that people living with disabilities are at the centre of our decisions, that they can access a diverse range of services that best meet their individual needs and that we do everything in our power to ensure that we allow them to get the best outcomes.
I commend the many local disability services in the Port Macquarie electorate that do such an amazing job and with whom I have worked on a range of issues. To name just a few, I am confident that NewIDAFE, Access Community Education Services and Hastings Respite will be key players in the provision of disability services in the future under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. These non-government organisations provide a range of services and have excellent relationships with individual clients because of the high standard of services they provide. I know from first-hand experience that they do a great job. They are flexible, innovative and responsive to individual needs. Their capacity and services will only be strengthened and broadened when the National Disability Insurance Scheme is fully implemented.
A few months ago Minister John Ajaka visited a number of disability service providers in Port Macquarie. He, like me, was impressed with the work that these organisations are undertaking in preparation for the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I acknowledge and thank the hundreds of volunteers who give their time to work alongside our paid employees in the disability sector. Their collaboration and teamwork every day is nothing short of outstanding and the beneficiaries are those with disabilities and their carers. I thank them for their care, generosity and effort. I know that each time they interact with people with disabilities they are rewarded by their smiles, but on behalf of our community I sincerely thank them. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr ADAM MARSHALL (Northern Tablelands) [11.54 a.m.]: I speak in debate on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013 with a great deal of pride for a number of reasons. With the indulgence of members, I will tell a short story. Last Saturday night at Armidale I attended the Butterfly Ball, which was the first debutante ball for people with disabilities to be held in Armidale. There were 23 debutantes. They looked stunning and the smiles on their faces were priceless. On the evening I quoted Ghandi, who said that a society can be judged by how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable. If members had been there they would have seen how true that is. It was wonderful to see the debutantes so happy.
During the evening I spoke to some of the debutantes and their families about the upcoming debate on this bill. Their excitement and anticipation for these reforms was overwhelming. They are looking forward to having choice and empowerment as well as benefiting from the extra resources that will be dedicated to the disability sector and service providers. I thank Minister John Ajaka and his predecessor, Andrew Constance, for their great work in championing the National Disability Insurance Scheme in this State. We must acknowledge that New South Wales is leading the way in disability services. We were the first State to sign up to the National Disability Insurance Scheme and this legislation will provide the framework to ensure the success of the scheme and its roll-out.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is an insurance-based model of funding that will enable people with disabilities to access the market and purchase the supports they need to live their lives to the full. It is no understatement to say that this is one of the most significant social reforms to take place in this State and this country. The bipartisan support the scheme has received is a credit to all involved on every side of politics. That is a credit to everyone. However, for these reforms to be successful the market needs to be diverse, dynamic and able to respond to the choices people make as the scheme is rolled out. The Government has acknowledged that one dominant public sector provider will restrict diversity and innovation in the market and skew competition in a way that prevents natural market responses. Government is often restricted by process and infrastructure and is unable to be as innovative or dynamic as non-government providers. For this reason, as part of the commitment to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Government will be withdrawing from the delivery of disability services and community care supports in order that the organisations that are best placed to grow and meet the demand are able to do so.
It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the great work done by all service providers in my electorate of Northern Tablelands. I acknowledge the Inverell Accommodation Service, Inverell Disability Services and Joblink Plus, which has a magnificent community garden project that I recently had the pleasure of visiting and helping with plantings. I also acknowledge the Dementia Access Project and Care for Children with Disabilities in Armidale, the Ascent Group, Medicare Local New England, Life Without Barriers, Maclean Care Inverell, Promoting Early Intervention and Active Learning Inc. [PEDAL] Early Childhood Intervention, Sunnyfield and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. In addition, I acknowledge the eight councils in my electorate that provide community transport and important home and community care services across the region. I also acknowledge the other providers that do fantastic work. I have had the pleasure to meet with some of the volunteers, employees and clients. They are excited about these reforms and what the future holds.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme represents a massive increase in funding. A number of members who preceded me in this debate have referred to the doubling of funding throughout the full rollout for disability support. With 140,000 people in New South Wales participating in the scheme by 2018, which includes an additional 50,000 people who will be able to access support for the very first time, the Government acknowledges that for the sector to meet this demand, it needs to grow very quickly. That is why the bill provides for that growth by enabling the transfer of assets and the workforce to organisations that will deliver a range of services through the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The bill does not provide for exactly how that will be done but it will enable flexibility for the Government to negotiate the best arrangements to obtain the best outcomes for people. As we heard from the member for Port Macquarie earlier in this debate, at all times our focus should be on people with a disability and obtaining the best possible outcomes for them and their lives. The bill will do three things to provide for a smooth and effective transition through the National Disability Insurance Scheme. First, there will be continuity of supports and services for people with a disability while they are in the process of making their own decisions about their future. Secondly, the non-government sector will be encouraged to retain skilled disability workers. Thirdly, the non-government sector will be able to maximise the capacity of the disability services sector through assets it will hold and the staff it will have. The Minister and the Government have acknowledged that this will mean the transfer of staff to new employers. When that is the case, the bill has mechanisms built into it to protect employee entitlements and provide for continuity of awards, which is very important. That concern was raised with me initially in this process. The bill also will enable the finer details to be worked out between relevant stakeholders following negotiations with the client, staff, employee representatives and non-government employers. The capacity to vest assets has the potential for huge growth in the sector and will enable it to meet the increasing demand for services.
We are advised that the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in the Hunter is going very well. There will be a full-scale expansion of the National Disability Insurance Scheme over the next few years to the whole of the State. People in my electorate of Northern Tablelands are very much looking forward to that. From the launch we are learning what we need to do in relation to operational and policy issues for people with disabilities in all parts of the State. The bill provides for the legislative transition that is necessary to support the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This bill represents an opportunity for New South Wales to continue to lead the way in the provision of disability care by delivering the National Disability Insurance Scheme and, with it, real choice and real control. I am proud to speak in favour of this bill and to be part of a Government—indeed, a Parliament—that places such high importance on ensuring the best possible future and outcomes for people with disability in New South Wales. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) [12.02 p.m.]: During my contribution to debate on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013, I place on the record some very real concerns I have about the lack of provision it makes for high dependency people with a disability in residential care. Those people have little option other than institutionalised care, due to significant developmental disability, physical disability or a combination of both. At this point I foreshadow that at the conclusion of my speech I will move a motion that the question, "That this bill be now read a second time", be amended by omitting the word "now" and inserting instead, "That this bill be read a second time on 25 February 2014", to allow for consultation with affected residents, families, carers and other interested parties prior to rather than after the carriage of the legislation.
Let me state for the record that I support the intentions and provisions of the National Disability Insurance Scheme because of the opportunities that it will open to so many people with disability who in the past have been denied dignity and opportunity due to a lack of funds and services. Those features of the scheme are to be applauded as they advance us as a community. The majority of the bill is laudable. However, I have concerns about the provisions in the bill aimed at divesting the State of any role in delivering disability services. This has been the sticking point for me since the bill was introduced and it remains so, despite discussions I have had over the past week with the Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services, and Minister for the Illawarra, Mr Ajaka, and the Minister for Finance and Services, Mr Constance, as well as ministerial and departmental staff. I express my appreciation to Minister Ajaka and Minister Constance for the time they afforded me. As I indicated in my opening remarks, my particular concern is removal of the safety net of public sector residential care from those in the disability sector who are most vulnerable. Anyone who shares my concerns—and I assure the House there are plenty of them—would be offended by the Minister's second reading speech in the other House. He stated:
- I will go so far as to say that a vote against this bill is a vote against the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the rights of people with disability to live with dignity and respect in the New South Wales community.
I do not know who wrote that for the Minister, but it is a disgrace. It should not be said. People should not be wedged by such an argument. Generally we can work across the board in a bipartisan manner in relation to the National Disability Insurance Scheme but I have a responsibility to represent people in my electorate who have very real concerns about this bill. I will not be confined by a wedge argument from the Minister. I do not believe that is the Minister's true intent. Once again I believe we are seeing a bit of politicking and a bit of poor advice. I know I am swimming against the tide in speaking against this bill and that both the Government and the Opposition have signalled their support for it, but I cannot let it charge unopposed through both Houses of Parliament while serious issues have not been resolved, even though the concerns affect a minority of those who will benefit from the National Disability Insurance Scheme. As a former developmental disability nurse—actually, I was a psychiatric nurse but I spent many of my years working in disability services—I know quite a deal about this subject. I also note that many people have legitimate fears about the privatisation of public sector residential care. For the past few weeks since the bill was hastily introduced to the upper House at 8.00 p.m. on 23 October, I have been hearing from families and carers of people in long-term residential disability care who are extremely anxious about what the future holds. They email and call my office constantly. Some are constituents and others are not. Some work in the field or have family members in residential care. In most cases they have sought me out in the hope that I might be able to help them find some answers to their questions. None of those people were from the Public Service Association [PSA]. Despite all the talk about consultation, the first that many people knew of the Government's decision to phase out public sector residential care by 2018 was when they read about it in the Newcastle Herald on 16 October. Then, lo and behold, just a week later this legislation is seemingly stealthily introduced with no further explanation or public discussion about what it will mean for those very vulnerable clients of public residential centres. In the Hunter region there are three residential facilities—Stockton in Newcastle, Tomaree in Port Stephens and Kanangra in the Lake Macquarie electorate at Morisset—that together house more than 500 clients. I worked at the Morisset centre at Kanangra for approximately 25 years, the last 10 years of which I spent in developmental disability services. My many friends who still work in the sector maintain connections with past clients and their families. I know firsthand the challenges faced by families and carers of those who have the most severe and restrictive disabilities. The services they need are complex, diverse and often are labour intensive. They require high skill levels and dedication from carers and certainly not the types of services that private operators, with an eye to the corporate bottom line, will perhaps be in a rush to provide.
Although there is no doubt that some do, there are some who can, and there are some who will, but already we have seen concerns expressed by respected disability service providers, such as the House with No Steps, that remuneration levels for carers under the National Disability Insurance Scheme are inadequate and will force small operators to the wall. What does that say about the likely success of very expensive high-dependency services being picked up by the private sector and delivered with the same diligence and focus on quality that those clients in public care have come to expect? The Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association of New South Wales is one group that shares my concerns about this. In a press release issued last week, the association stated:
- People should have the option of retaining or accessing Government run services if they wish to do so. Within a market focused environment people with high needs who are unable to advocate for themselves, particularly those who don't have a strong advocate speaking out on their behalf, fall through the cracks.
We see this happening in aged care, where private providers are able to cherry pick nursing home residents and so avoid taking on people who are considered to have costly high needs or labelled as having problem behaviours.
Without a Government operator which can have more oversight, we'll end up with a race to the bottom in terms of quality of services for high needs people.There are many people with developmental disabilities and challenging behaviours who are living successfully and with dignity in the State system. In many cases they are doing so after failed attempts to manage their residential needs in the private or not-for-profit sectors. For the benefit of the House and to give some people a sense of the challenge faced by carers, I add that some of the extremes of behaviour sometimes seen in those residential resources include self-injury, violence to others, property damage, disturbance of the local community through screaming abuse, sexual promiscuity and inappropriate and confronting dress or other behaviours, or a lack of dress. I know of examples where people cared for by non-government organisations were so out of control that the only option was to place them in State care. The public sector has traditionally been the provider of last resort and it needs to continue to be there for this purpose. There are many residents who I can say without exaggeration might not be alive today if not for the expertise, experience, care and dedication of nursing and allied staff within the State care system. [Extension of time agreed to.]
One example that comes to mind from my own nursing experience is that of a woman who was prone to violent tantrums, escalating to extreme self-harm. At times she would attempt to attack others, but her most confronting and difficult behaviour was her propensity to bite her own arms with extreme force, inflicting deep wounds and gashes. As a matter of fact, she would take a piece of her own flesh from her arms and sometimes chew and swallow it. After many years of this behaviour, her arms were all but scar tissue. This behaviour brought her into State care and, while it took time, her life has now changed and these extreme behaviours are no longer evident. I use this example to illustrate how effective State care can be in the most challenging situations. I could give many more examples, including some that are even more confronting. However, time and the sensitive nature of these issues restrict me.
Another benefit of State residential care is the embedded medical service that is provided within the facilities. Residents often have complex and considerable medical needs, which can be exacerbated by communication difficulties. Trying to have those needs attended to out in the community is extremely difficult. Medical officers attached to residential facilities can deal with these challenges in a familiar environment and in a way that is less confronting for both the patient and the person delivering the care. The underlying tenet of the National Disability Insurance Scheme is providing people with disability with choice about their care, but there is one important choice that this bill will take away, which is the choice to remain in public sector care.
As honourable and desirable an ideal as community-based care is for many, it is important that we acknowledge it is not the silver bullet solution for everyone. Some people now in full-time residential centres will, with improved resources and support, be able to transition to an alternative mode of care—and this will be a positive outcome of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Others, however, will not and for those people it seems ironic, if not disingenuous, to say that this bill is about providing choice because it is actually about removing choice. It is about divesting the State of responsibility and assets in the area of disability services. There is no ambiguity about this. The Minister for Ageing and Disability Services, in his second reading speech, said:
- From 2018 New South Wales will no longer provide or fund disability or community care support …
But I, and others who share my concern about the apparent lack of contingency planning for people with high-care needs, fail to see why the State's departure from the disability service sector has to be absolute. Why can it not remain a provider in this brave new world of privatised care, particularly in the specialised area of high-dependency residential care? I have often heard the argument that centres such as Stockton, Tomaree and Morisset are outdated and impractical—past their use-by date, as it were. It has suited successive governments to allow those facilities to run down so they could use this argument to justify foreshadowed closures. The Minister indicated in the House yesterday that the Government intends to redevelop the Stockton Centre. I welcome this commitment, but if the Government could articulate in more detail how and when the development will occur, how the new centre will be managed and to whom it will be open, it would ease a lot of anxiety among current residents and their families. However, I wish to thank the Minister for articulating that quite clearly in his second reading speech and guaranteeing that it will happen.
The impasse in this debate is lack of communication. People in residential facilities and their families and carers do not understand how they will be catered for under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, what care options will be available to them and who will deliver them. The failures of the Richmond report on deinstitutionalisation loom large in their minds. That may be unfair, because I know we have learned from the process and I believe the Government when it says it is committed to ensuring those mistakes are not repeated, but one can understand why people are wary of the Government's intention to leave the disability care sector entirely. The people that I speak for today represent only a small proportion of people with disabilities, but the potential impact on them is huge. We cannot allow people with high care needs to be "auctioned off" to private providers. I know the Minister does not like the term "privatisation", but it cannot be dispensed with. I understand the Minister met with a delegation of parents of residents from the Stockton Centre on 31 October to hear their concerns.
While I acknowledge the Minister's willingness to meet those affected by these reforms and hear their concerns, I contend that it is not good enough to ask these people to take it in good faith that these concerns will be addressed retrospectively. Why not deal with them now? It has been put to me that the urgency to have this bill passed is the imminent renewal of home care contracts and the Government's need to have home care transferred out of the public sector. However, in the Newcastle Herald yesterday morning, a ministerial spokesman said the current funding was in place until 2015. Can we not then afford a couple more months to allow for more discussion, to try to eliminate the uncertainties that are giving way to fear?
In closing, I reiterate one important thing: I support the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I support the rights of people with disabilities. I want to support this bill, but I do not wish to support it while surrendering the concerns of those people who have spoken to me, who are residents of large State-run centres and their parents. It is unreasonable and unconscionable to progress the bill until the very real and heartfelt concerns of the families and carers of people in high-dependency care are met. Unless the Government can provide clients of residential centres, their families and carers with absolute clarity about how the future needs of those people will be catered for under the new regime the bill should be deferred until the next sitting to allow proper consultation to take place. I would dearly love to be standing here and to be saying that I will support this 100 per cent. I support it 98 per cent, because we are talking about a small cohort of people in State disability care services who have very real concerns. For the 50,000 additional people who will get these services it is absolutely magnificent, and I applaud the Government for its progress on that. If there is a deficit in the process, it is to do with the lack of consultation and the very real fear that is being felt not just by parents of some residents but also by residents who have contacted me, residents who are given care by the State as well as people for whom I have cared in the past who have contacted me and who are very scared. They are smart enough not to understand the detail but they understand that something is happening to their lives and they would have liked to have had a conversation with the Government about this. However, that has not happened. I move:
- That the motion be amended by leaving out the word "now" and adding the words "on 25 February 2014 to allow for consultation with affected residents, family, carers and other interested parties prior to, rather than after, the carriage of the legislation."
ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Lee Evans): Order! Pursuant to Standing Order 200, when deferring the second reading of a bill only a later date or time is permitted. Therefore, the reason given by the member for Lake Macquarie is out of order and will not form part of the question.
Question—That the words stand—put.
The House divided.
Mr R. C. Williams
Mr J. D. Williams
Mr GARETH WARD (Kiama) [12.27 p.m.]: As a member of this House with a disability, I am pleased to support the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013, which will bring much relief to many people concerned about their future. I commend also Andrew Constance, my very good friend whom I have known for many years and who led the debate on this issue, including as the shadow Minister and previously as the responsible Minister.
Ms Noreen Hay: Suck, suck.
Mr GARETH WARD: I am disappointed in the comments of the member for Wollongong because this is a sensitive debate. I am sure the member for Wollongong agrees that the achievements in this sector are commendable. I remember standing with the member for Wollongong at a National Disability Insurance Scheme forum in Port Kembla. I know that she supports this issue. I commend the Minister for his hard work and dedication to bring about this important achievement. I commend also the former Federal Labor Government for its instigation and assistance. This issue is beyond politics. The Government is proud to introduce the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013 which is necessary to enable New South Wales to take its first steps to ensure the success of the National Disability Insurance Scheme for people with disabilities in our community.
In December 2012 New South Wales became the first Australian State to sign on to the National Disability Insurance Scheme through a heads of agreement with the Commonwealth. The agreement represents a historic milestone for people with disability, their families and carers not only in New South Wales but also throughout the country. It establishes the means to deliver equitable and adequate support for people with disability, many of whom have struggled for a long time without access to the necessary supports they need to live with dignity and respect. This agreement places real choice and control in the hands of people with disability over supports they need to live their lives the way they want.
The reforms will be delivered through a partnership between the New South Wales and Commonwealth governments and will benefit approximately 140,000 people with disability in New South Wales. The New South Wales commitment of $3.1 billion will be directed exclusively to enable people with disability to plan individual funding packages to purchase supports, based on an assessment of their capacity and circumstances. In addition, the Commonwealth will provide $3.3 billion, making the total funding $6.4 billion. I acknowledge the wonderful disability service providers in my electorate, which include Flagstaff, CareSouth, Essential Personnel and Greenacres Disability Services, as well as many others. The staff at Flagstaff are excellent, including the chief executive officer, Roy Rogers, whom I met during a visit to the Flagstaff facility at North Nowra. They have excellent products and provide wonderful services for people with disability.
Last Friday evening I had the enormous privilege of attending the twenty-first anniversary celebration of CareSouth at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre. It was a fantastic event to celebrate the great work that they do in our community. I pay tribute to their coordinators and staff, particularly my good friend James Parrish, who is a member of the board. I have been to several Greenacres Disability Services graduation ceremonies to acknowledge the fantastic achievement of those participants who complete its Joblink Transition to Work program. I acknowledge Lisa Vaughan and the hardworking staff of Greenacres, who do an outstanding job for the people they assist.
In July this year I was very pleased to visit Northcott Disability Services in Oak Flats to present them with a $500 cheque to help purchase new kitchen utensils. I think the former Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance, provided that discretionary grant. I acknowledge program coordinator Shea Hanson, Deirdre Cowan-Brown, and Tordis Bulger, who do a magnificent job with these young people. I also acknowledge the outstanding role that the KidzWish foundation plays in the Illawarra to support sick, disabled and disadvantaged children across the region. I acknowledge the wonderful staff of KidzWish, including its executive director, Chris Beavan, who started the charity in the backroom of her home and has been incredibly dedicated to it. I recently presented her with a much-deserved community service award for her contribution over many years. I will be attending the KidzWish annual dinner this Friday night in Wollongong, as I do every year. I look forward to that event. I acknowledge events manager Glenn Meznaric, business manager Kristy Sharman and marketing manager Karouna Micheal.
The launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme occurred in 2013 in the Hunter area. An estimated 10,000 people will begin to access the scheme over the next three years. The launch in the Hunter and in other locations across Australia will enable us to design the approach to progressively rolling out the scheme across the remainder of New South Wales from July 2016. The New South Wales Government is contributing $585 million towards the first-stage launch. The launch process is critical to ensuring that we have policy and operational partnerships before we move to the full State rollout. Importantly, we are moving towards a monumental shift in the way people with disability are supported in our community to plan for their lives and achieve their goals.
For people with disability the National Disability Insurance Scheme is more than insurance, it is a fundamental human rights issue. It means that people with disability will have choice and control over their supports instead of having services prescribed for them. Ultimately, it will lead to more positive outcomes in their lives. This will be fostered through the promotion of a vibrant and competitive market of service and support across communities in New South Wales that will need to respond to the desires and aspirations of people with disability and bring new approaches, innovation and flexibility to bear in how support is arranged.
The New South Wales Government is by far the largest provider of disability services and community care support in the State. There is already a diverse disability and community care non-government sector in place, made up of everything from small, local volunteer organised services to large, complex non-government providers that provide a suite of supports. For the National Disability Insurance Scheme to be truly innovative and responsive to the needs of people with disability, the non-government sector needs to grow and flourish. I will take a moment to explain why this is necessary. Non-government organisations are mainly inclusive, participatory and quality focused. They have the capacity to generate social capital in a way that the government and private sectors cannot. Social capital is critical to maximising advantages for people with disability and other vulnerable groups.
There are thousands upon thousands of non-government organisations across New South Wales, each with their own philosophy, specialisation and collaboration. The rich diversity of the sector provides economic and social benefit for New South Wales. They can take risks where a government service may be conservative and they can influence the views of the community and Government about the people they support, which can lead to greater inclusion, acceptance and knowledge transfer. These organisations have their finger on the pulse of local communities. They work directly with local communities and individuals to make inclusion and choice for people with disability a reality.
The role of the New South Wales Government in future needs to be as an enabler for the non-government sector. We have an obligation to support the sector in accessing a skilled and experienced workforce to help it achieve the innovation that people with disability require. We, the New South Wales Government, also have an obligation to people who currently need support. Our obligation is to do everything within our power to ensure that when the time comes for them to engage with the National Disability Insurance Scheme they have the chance to make choices about their future and are not constrained by the models of support that are now in place.
From 2018, New South Wales will no longer provide or fund disability or community care support and the National Disability Insurance Scheme Agency will take over responsibility for the development of the sector and the funding of support for people. This means that the existing State service capacity workforce and expertise need to be placed in the hands of the non-government sector and reinvested in the marketplace for the National Disability Insurance Scheme to succeed. The key purpose of this bill is to provide for this transfer. Importantly, the bill is designed to achieve three critical objectives: to ensure that the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme delivers maximum continuity of service for people with disability as they make decisions about the future; to promote the retention of the skilled disability service workforce; and to maximise the capacity of the disability service sector. This is a necessary step in meeting this Government's commitment under its heads of agreement.
The New South Wales Government has already committed $3.13 billion to the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This will be matched by the contribution of $3.3 billion from the Commonwealth. The total commitment of New South Wales represents the largest contribution of its kind. We are committed to making the National Disability Insurance Scheme work. The types of transfers enabled by the bill are designed to boost the sector and guarantee the success of the scheme. Should any income be generated under the bill, it would be used to support the inclusion of people with disability across New South Wales. At present, the New South Wales Government funds and delivers support to over 90,000 people with disability.
This bill, and the Minister's hard work on it, will be one of the defining achievements of Minister Constance's political career, although he may not know it at this point. His effort, empathy and energy are some of the reasons that we are debating this bill today, in addition to all the families and communities across the State who have pushed for this scheme to become a reality. This is a truly defining moment in our State, where we put people with disability and their needs first, where this House shows its empathy and compassion, and where governments of all levels work together to obtain a truly Australian and unique outcome. I commend the bill to the House.
Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE (Bega—Minister for Finance and Services) [12.37 p.m.], in reply: I acknowledge and thank the members representing the electorates of Myall Lakes, Wollondilly, Pittwater, Camden, Cronulla, Gosford, Menai, Bathurst, Blue Mountains, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Northern Tablelands, Davidson, Cessnock, Balmain, Fairfield, Wallsend, Lake Macquarie, Oatley and Kiama for their contributions to debate on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (New South Wales Enabling) Bill 2013. I particularly acknowledge and thank the members who have raised specific issues of concern. I acknowledge Mrs Barbara Perry, the shadow Minister for Disability Services, and Mr Greg Piper, the member for Lake Macquarie. I will refer particularly to Mr Greg Piper's contribution. I also acknowledge Ms Sonia Hornery for raising specific issues relating to Stockton.
In the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and its broader implementation, not all questions have been answered. That is because we are dealing with a scheme that is underpinned by the fundamental human rights principles of choice and control. It must be recognised that no disability system is perfect. The transition before us will see enormous change and it will pose particular challenges. I single out the contribution of the member for Lake Macquarie. The member's experience in this field is vast and no other member of Parliament can bring his level of expertise to the debate. The concerns raised by the member are important and valid. Every member in this and the other place supports the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It is important for members, regardless of their political persuasion, to raise the concerns of the communities they represent or have worked in, as the member for Lake Macquarie has done.
These changes are difficult for a number of reasons, particularly for those who reside in large residential centres. Many facilities in which people live and their carers work are outdated and in some cases unacceptable. The community would be horrified to know that in 2013 a person with disabilities is forced to reside in a facility that has three people sleeping in one bedroom. Some facilities have not been maintained. In one facility a toilet is next to the bed of a person with disabilities. These facilities date back to the 1950s and 1960s and since then nothing has changed. Over many decades we have seen a change in the way in which people with disabilities have been supported. However, for many people with disabilities, the large residential centres in which they live are their home, community and family environment.
I understand the difficult challenges associated with change in relation to large residential centres. They have a lot of history and longstanding and critical relationships exist between staff and residents. The varying degrees of disability and, in some cases, difficult behaviours pose enormous challenges when determining whether the life aspirations of individuals are being met. There is the added burden of ageing parent carers who years earlier made the heart-wrenching decision to have their loved one with disabilities provided care in a large residential centre. Some families are concerned that the intensive care provided to their disabled loved ones in large residential centres will not be ongoing, and that goes to the heart of the issue raised by the member for Lake Macquarie. When we overlay that issue with the complexities of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, it means uncertainty for staff and people with disabilities and their families.
My comments in relation to the Stockton Centre apply to Kanangra and all the other large residential centres across the State operated by both the government and community sectors. Because of the nature and history of those facilities, consultation is the key factor. I am not sure that any government has got that right, particularly in the initial stages. However, I know that once consultation is underway we will see tremendous outcomes. The redevelopment of Westmead and Rydalmere incorporated three models of care relating to age, medical-based needs and challenging behaviours. The decision on those three models of care was made up-front. Following that decision, the process of engagement and individual consultation resulted in important changes, and now many residents from Westmead and Rydalmere cannot wait for their new homes to be built. I believe that will be the case with the Stockton Centre, but we are not at that point. That is a key factor. Ageing, Disability and Home Care will embark on individual consultation and engage with staff to ascertain individual needs.
I refer to work that was done by the former Government and give as an example in this area the Norton Road group homes. I urge all members to view that facility. It is a redevelopment and the outcomes have been tremendous. Yesterday the member for Newcastle acknowledged that the Government's commitment still stands. We must focus now on ongoing consultation, which needs to take place. It is important that the local members who live in and represent the region are involved in the process. However, there are additional complexities and constraints associated with the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Based on my experience, I know that change is extremely difficult in the disability sector and the more consultation that takes place the better. I refer to the constraints that exist within the National Disability Insurance Scheme. First, the States were asked by the Commonwealth to bring forward their launch sites. That has posed challenges because, first and foremost, we must ensure that the individuals have the capacity to adapt to the new scheme. That is an important point.
For many years, people with disabilities and their carers and families have not been given the opportunity to make decisions on the support they need on a daily basis to achieve their life aspirations. Therefore, we must address the ability of people with disabilities and their carers to make decisions and the way in which resources are invested to support the change. The Stronger Together program, which was initiated by the former Labor Government, is about investing resources into that decision-making capacity. From memory, under Stronger Together 2, approximately $138 million has been invested in relation to the issue of decision-making. That work, which is currently taking place, will feed the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Secondly, another challenge, particularly for the Commonwealth, is the workforce capacity. If a $2.5 billion system is transformed within five years into a $6.4 billion system, we need an additional 25,000 employees who have the expertise, experience and ability to work in the sector.
It is important that we invest not only in training and education but also in professional development. That involves TAFE colleges through to universities and the work being undertaken in care careers. This is relevant to the message that was expressed last night in the Hunter by the Public Service Association, as well as more broadly. The Government must work with the Public Service Association because it plays an important role in this process. It represents the wonderful staff in the supported accommodations, from the large residential centres to the group homes across the State. It is the Government's desire not only to recognise concerns in relation to the transfer of staff entitlements and staff to the community sector or to the National Disability Insurance Agency but also to recognise the important relationship that exists between clients and staff, as well as the ability of staff to innovate and provide the necessary care.
On every visit I made to large residential centres as the Minister for Ageing, and Minister for Disability Services, I observed staff doing an incredible job. I also observed that they are constrained by the built environment in which they work. The present Minister is also very aware of this situation. It needs to change, and that was part of yesterday's message. I reiterate the point made earlier by the member for Lake Macquarie that, in relation to transfers, consideration is given to the expertise of staff who deal with the challenging behaviours of those with high-dependency disabilities. We are not talking about a transaction. We are talking about human relationships that exist between individuals and professional staff currently working for the State government, as well as future employment opportunities in a National Disability Insurance Scheme environment.
The heads of agreement flagged this change; it is there in black and white. That resulted in me, as the responsible Minister at the time, making the very clear statement that in order for the National Disability Insurance Scheme to work, and work incredibly well, change was vital so that people with disabilities could have choices and purchasing power as to the supports they desired. This meant that the State Government could not remain in service delivery. The National Disability Insurance Scheme has come about because tens of thousands of people with disabilities, their families and carers recognised that the system was broken. Both sides of politics had underinvested for years. The Productivity Commission recognised that the State-based schemes were broken. They were costly, inefficient and fragmented. That does not reflect on the work undertaken by staff within local communities on an hourly basis 24/7 caring for people with disabilities.
This bill facilitates change in the lead-up to the full implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It gives Ageing, Disability and Home Care the ability to gradually effect that change in a consultative way with people with disabilities, their families and carers, and staff. The trial in the Hunter has been underway since the middle of this year. This innovation will have teething problems, but eventually it will flourish and continue to flourish into the future. As members know, one of the key drivers for this change is our ageing population and the tens of thousands of ageing parent carers who will no longer be able to care for their loved ones in the home environment. We do not want to see families having to make the heart-wrenching decision to relinquish responsibility of their loved one to the State with no surety about their future.
In essence, the block funding of services, government and non-government, where people are told what they will receive, will cease. Under the scheme, an individualised service plan will be developed in consultation with the individuals with disabilities and their families and carers. Funding will be attached to that plan, and people will be able to engage in activities that can fulfil their life aspirations. That is a major change in the system. As a result of the work of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, under the former Government and this Government, the new initiatives will empower people to change their lives. They will have control over their funding. For example, under the new model, a local area coordinator will be able to assist individuals who want to go fishing or to a dance club so that they can enjoy a life experience that those without disability take for granted. This scheme will result in a marked shift in attitude towards people with disability.
The Public Service Association has expressed concern about the engagement of staff in this process. Indeed, it has made some very loud signals. The leadership group in Ageing, Disability and Home Care wants to work alongside the union. They want the process informed by the union's expertise and knowledge in order to make this scheme flourish for people with disabilities. The media coverage and conversations between staff and people with disabilities can have an unsettling effect on the individuals concerned. Therefore, I ask that all information be accessed from Ageing, Disability and Home Care, Family and Community Services and members of Parliament.
I do not want people with disabilities who reside in a group home or large residential centre being told that because of the changes their present carers will no longer be able to look after them. We have to methodically work through the process. The Government is sensitive to the concerns of staff. We understand this is a major change for everyone. I ask everyone not to lose sight of the purpose of this change, that we are talking about people's human rights, and that the workplaces of the future in relation to support for people with disability will be very different.
I know a lot has been said about my role in this process—and it is most humbling to hear my colleagues speak of my contribution—but there is a group of people who must be recognised and thanked. They are the thousands of people with a disability, their carers and their families. They have worked tirelessly for decades to reach this point. It is important to recognise them and to thank them for their contribution. I have no hesitation in acknowledging the work of John Della Bosca in the previous Labor Government in securing Stronger Together. Without a doubt, introducing that program was the best thing the Labor Government did. It is pleasing that the O'Farrell Government has continued the program and contributed growth money, without which we would be unable to transition properly to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Yes, there is still a lot of transition work to do in terms of engagement with the Commonwealth about timeliness and the transition of contracts. We must remember that the non-government sector had three-year service agreements. That will change in the new environment. There will be no service agreements in the future; there will be arrangements that exist between clients and the community sector.
These are incredible times in terms of what will happen in the future, but there will also be problems. I make it clear to those opposite that the elevation of concerns in no way, shape or form defines the commitment and the resolve of every member of this Parliament, regardless of their political persuasion, to support the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I cannot put it more strongly than that. I would like to see the bipartisanship that has existed around this issue extend to other areas of government policy. This is a terrific example of people coming together. The temptation is always there to make a political point but this process is a clear demonstration of the fact that bipartisanship, particularly in the social services area, can deliver some tremendous outcomes. I acknowledge all members for embracing that spirit of bipartisanship.
There is no doubt that this change is a good one. The passing of this legislation today is but one step of many to facilitate the necessary work ahead. People bring various degrees of experience to the table in this process. I thank again particularly those who have been involved in the negotiations. Ongoing engagement will occur between staff and the agency into the future. I also again recognise the input of every member who contributed to this debate, which is one of the most important that we will ever have in this House. I commend the legislation to the Parliament.
Question—That this bill be now read a second time—put and resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Motion by Mr Andrew Constance agreed to:
- That this bill be now read a third time.
Bill read a third time and returned to the Legislative Council without amendment. (Source : http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Prod/Parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LA20131120005?open&refNavID=HA8_1)