Senator The Hon Mitch Fifield
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES
MANAGER OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS IN THE SENATE
Senator for Victoria
94.7 FM The Pulse Radio Geelong
The Geelong Review with Daniel Santopietro
4 July 2014
E & OE
Subject: National Disability Insurance Scheme, NDIS Parliamentary Committee, Sarah Henderson
The Assistant Minister for Social Services is Mitch Fifield and he joins us now. Good morning Senator and welcome back to the Geelong Review.
Thanks very much Daniel.
So the NDIS is a social policy not seen since the introduction of Medicare. How significant has the NDIS been in the trial sites such as the Barwon region in the first year?
It’s been hugely important. As you know, previously disability support has primarily been provided by the states. And it was essentially a system of rationing where someone would take a number, take a place in the queue. And if the pot of money ran out before your number was called, it was too bad. So what we’ve seen in the NDIS in the trial sites is people in a much better position to get the support that they need when they need it.
But the other really important thing about the trial sites is that it gives us the opportunity to learn, to see what might need adjustment before we move to the full national rollout of the scheme.
So therefore do you believe that through the continued rollout into the new trial sites in the ACT, the Northern Territory and WA there’ll be more lessons for the Government and the NDIS as this continues to a full rollout?
Absolutely. It’s very important for the NDIS Agency to be an organisation that is continually learning. The rollout of the NDIS is very complex. And it’s unprecedented in Australia. So there are going to be wrinkles along the way. We’ve got to make sure that we’re listening to providers, but also very importantly to participants in the scheme. We’ve got good plans and it’s good in concept. But we’ve got to make sure that it’s actually delivering for people on the ground.
Senator, what would you say to some people like Geelong woman Robyn Goodman who suffers from slow progressing Multiple Sclerosis, who says that under her plan, she is no longer is eligible for respite care, and says that the bureaucracy of the NDIA is very exhausting for her.
That’s exactly the sort of feedback we do want to hear. So it’s important for me to hear that. It’s also important for the Parliamentary Committee chaired by Mal Brough to hear that. And Mal Brough’s Committee was in Geelong fairly recently hearing evidence from participants. And all of that information and all of that feedback, we’re going to look at and we’re going to convey to the Board of the NDIS Agency so that if there are adjustments that need to be made, that can happen.
So overall Senator, how successful has the launch of the trial sites we’re in a year now since its launched in the four areas including the Barwon region how successful has that been?
I think it’s been pretty successful. Understandably, there’s been a few wobbles along the way. But I really think that huge credit has to be paid to the staff of the NDIS Agency. They’re incredibly hard working. They’ve been operating in very compressed timeframes. So I think a lot of credit to the staff of the Agency. But as I say, we don’t want to rest on our laurels. We want to make sure that the scheme is the very best that it can be.
And finally Senator, is the Government confident that the full NDIS rollout will run to schedule?
At the moment, the Board of the Agency has commissioned KPMG to do some work as to what the optimal timeframe for the rollout of the scheme is. So the Board will consider that and if they have any advice that they need to convey to all Australian governments because remember this is a joint venture of all Australian governments then they’ll do that.
But it’s important, I think, to note that in the Budget that was just handed down, the full allocation of funding for the NDIS is there and maintained. We’re not looking for reasons to slow down the rollout of the scheme. But obviously we will be guided by the advice of the independent Board of the Agency as to what the optimal timeframe is.
But I also think that on this anniversary of the launch of the scheme, it’s good to finish where you started and acknowledge that not only is the Barwon region a trial site, but it’s also the national headquarters of the NDIS. The Prime Minister and I opened the headquarters with Sarah Henderson a few weeks back. I’ve got to say she has just been a terrific advocate for Geelong and for the NDIS.
Definitely. Well we’ll have to leave it there Senator Fifield. Thank you for your time this morning.
Great to talk Daniel.
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