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National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill 2012

Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual assault

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Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual assault

Opening statement to Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into the NDIS Bill 2012

 

Graeme Innes AM, Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission

Thank you Madame Chair for the opportunity to appear before the Committee as representatives of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The Commission whole-heartedly supports the development and introduction of the NDIS.  We have advocated for this policy reform, and provided advice to Government and members of Parliament - including members of this committee - on various issues of scheme development.

Everyone here is aware of the challenges experienced by Australians with disability. The four million
Australians with disability - about the population of Melbourne - and the further 2.6 million Australians who care for family members with disability - are among the most disadvantaged groups in Australian society. Almost half of us live in or near poverty. We are significantly under-employed, and more likely to be homeless or in prison. You know the statistics, and have heard our stories.

This Scheme will change that situation, and fundamentally alter the lives of people with disability, their families and carers. It will also be of benefit to the wider community, as it will promote the equal participation of people with disability in the community. This will bring social and economic benefits. The figures are well known to you.

The Convention on the Rights of People with Disability requires government, at all levels, to closely consult with, and actively involve, people with disability through their representative organisations. The Commission congratulates the federal government, and this Committee on the extent of consultation undertaken in the development of the Bill and of the NDIS. The development of the Scheme is a clear indication that government is actively working toward involving people with disability in decisions that affect us.

The NDIS is intended to replace a demand driven system with a system that provides individuals with the ability to purchase and direct their own system of supports. It will enable greater choice and control. This is essential to maximising a person's economic and social participation.

The Commission is pleased that the Scheme continues to have bi-partisan support. The Commission recognises the cooperation between state and federal governments, and is pleased to note the NSW and federal government financial agreement regarding the scheme. The Commission is hopeful that other states will also support the Scheme by reaching similar agreements.

The Commission welcomes the intention behind the Bill to promote the human rights of people with disability through progressive implementation of the human rights obligations contained in the Convention. The introduction of this scheme will clearly be a major focus when the Government appears before the Expert Committee to report on progress towards compliance with the convention.

The Commission submission to this committee expresses its support for the Bill. The submission therefore only focuses on where - in our view - the Bill could be improved. These areas include: government leadership on employment of people with disability; independent review and complaints mechanisms; accessible procurement and development of standards; and, individual and systemic advocacy on the part of the Agency. 

The Commission welcomes this inquiry. We would be happy to answer the Committees questions on either the areas addressed in our submission, or on other sections of the Bill.

Thank you Madame Chair.