Federal Member for Maribyrnong, Bill Shorten, has warmly welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Government will bring forward the timetable for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“The NDIS is a Labor reform in the style of Medicare, superannuation and the minimum wage. The need for this massive reform cannot be overstated,” Mr Shorten said.
“For too long people with disabilities and their carers have had to compete in a cruel lottery for resources in a disability service system that is fragmented, underfunded and unable to cope.
“The NDIS will, for the first time, empower people with disabilities as consumers of services and allow them to make their own decisions about support services that best suit their needs.
“It will make a huge practical and day-to-day difference to the lives of people living with disabilities, their carers, and their families,” Mr Shorten said.
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said yesterday that the NDIS will start in Australia from July 2013 in up to four locations across the country.
From mid 2013, about 10,000 people with significant and permanent disabilities will start to receive support.
By July 2014, that figure will rise to 20,000 people.
The timeframe announced yesterday means the first stage of an NDIS will be delivered a full year ahead of the timetable set out by the Productivity Commission.
For the first time in Australia’s history people with significant and permanent disability will receive lifetime care and support, regardless of how they acquired their disability.
The Gillard Government will fund its share of the cost of the initial stage of the NDIS in the upcoming May Budget.
Mr Shorten said that as a former Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, he had seen firsthand the need for this vital reform.
“Everywhere I went I met families, carers, friends of those with a disability, struggling with daily challenges, not just of living with disability, but also negotiating the labyrinth of various levels of government support, the legal system and insurance,” Mr Shorten said.
“And, at the end of the road was no light, just a dark tunnel, in which parents fretted over the long term care options for their disabled kids. This Labor Government wants to end the midnight anxiety of these parents and ensure that their children have the care and support that the need.”
“This has never been an easy reform to implement and there have been many who’ve put it in the too hard basket, but the Labor Government is working hard to make it happen.”
“And yesterday’s announcement is a major step towards delivering it.”
Mr Shorten also expressed his disappointment that while some sections of the Coalition have offered bipartisan support for the NDIS, the Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey continues to waver.
“My great concern is that the Coalition will back away from their support for the NDIS if it ever wins government,” Mr Shorten said.
“We don’t want it to become a non-core promise.”