Launch Of Police Home Carer Services

Dept of Social Services

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS, AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Good morning, everybody. It’s fantastic to be here. I’d like to acknowledge the Kaurna people as the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet. I’d also like to acknowledge Mark Carroll and the Police Association of South Australia.

This is such a smart idea. Unions were established and the Police Association was established as its core function, the industrial interests of its members many years ago. But as we know, the industrial interests of members change over time. Not just wages and conditions and health and safety, but a proposition that there should be ongoing care for the people who care for us. So, I think this is a very clever initiative this morning, and the fact that it’s such a powerful idea is reflected in the remarkable audience of dignitaries that you’ve got here. We’ve got Nat Cook, who is – there is no better state Minister for Disability in the Commonwealth. She’s remarkable and passionate and clever. And of course, we’ve got many federal colleagues here. We’ve got Don Farrell, we’ve got Steve Georganas here, you can’t get a harder working member of parliament. And it’s great that Senator Anne Ruston is here as well, I think reflecting the bipartisan support for the initiative of the South Australian Police Association. I wanted to make a couple of comments about police home care, and then a couple of comments about where we’re going with the NDIS.

I do think, as I said, that the home care initiative is smart. As Steve, sort of, as he often does, gave me the grab in the speech, he said, this is a home care and police care for the people who’ve been caring for us for their working careers. It does make sense. And Lifestyle is a good partner to choose with. Currently, the federal government provides 117 NDIS packages worth several million dollars to people they already work with. And so, it’s important that when you start this initiative to have trusted partners you can work with. But I think it is an initiative which maybe other associations and employers and unions may look at doing in the future, but it’s first been done here by Mark and the South Australian team.

1 in 6 Australians at least, self-report as having a disability. With the NDIS there’s 650,000 people who receive individual support from the NDIS. In the last ten years that the NDIS has been in existence, it has literally changed and is changing hundreds of thousands of lives. The dimension for disability support in this country is remarkable and whenever I get the opportunity to travel elsewhere in the world, I speak to disability representative organisations and carers and policy makers. They would all acknowledge that the NDIS is a world leader and that’s exactly where we want to be leading in the world. Because disability could be any of us, and that’s why I think the Police Association’s initiative is spot on. You can have disability from birth. It can be in the blink of an eye on a country road. It can be through work and the stresses and strains. It could be through our DNA lottery where emerging challenges come through your life cycle.

So, it’s universal. It’s any of us. The NDIS is changing lives, and it is making a massive difference. It now employs probably 400,000 people. So, for a sector which didn’t really exist a decade ago, it’s quite a remarkable growth. But the Scheme is growing probably too fast. We’ve got no doubt that the Scheme is here to stay, but we want to make sure that every dollar gets through to the people for whom the Scheme was designed. And so that is why we want to make sure that there’s a consistent experience for participants across the Scheme. And we want to make sure that the NDIS is not the only lifeboat in the ocean. The fact of the matter is that sometimes there’s a perception that the only support you’re going to get is if you’re on the NDIS, and it wasn’t designed for every person with a disability, perhaps of a mild or a less serious nature.

So, we’re having a very important conversation with our friends from the states about how together, the levels of government work together to have a disability ecosystem which supports all Australians with a disability, not just people on the NDIS. We’re also though, making sure that the NDIS is a consistent, equitable experience. Where there is government money, it’s true to say that it does attract some level of opportunistic behaviour from some service providers. Most service providers are excellent, most workers in the sector are amazing, but there is a cohort of people who prioritize their own interests over that of the participants and of the Scheme.

Australian taxpayers generally don’t like paying tax, but if you ask them about what their taxes should be used for, the two areas which they would say they think is a reasonable use of government expenditure and taxes is in fact Medicare and the NDIS. The NDIS has become embedded in the Australian consciousness, and for every negative headline that you read, I can assure you that there’s literally thousands of other people who never want to go back to the system before. But the challenge for policy makers, for leaders of the disability community, for people with disability, for carers, for those who provide services in the broader community is, how do we ensure that the NDIS is here for future generations? How do we make sure that the funds are getting to the people and focusing on giving people a fulfilling life? How do we make sure there’s accountability for the resources, and how do we make sure that Australia generally is a better experience for people with disability?

Because it all really comes down to that philosophy, the philosophy that we’re launching today with the South Australian Police Association’s work with Lifestyles. It is that disability could be any of us. The NDIS is a remarkable chapter in the Australian story. In the last quarter of a century, in the time of this century, a lot of politics can get bogged down in partisan recrimination, and that, perhaps, is the way of our Westminster system. And that is as it is, the adversarial system. But the NDIS, I believe, stands as a bit of an exception to the last quarter century. Both sides of politics endorsed the formation of it. Both sides of politics are committed to working to improve it, because we understand that the NDIS is there for any of us.

Many of you have your own backstories of how you’ve come here today, but I’m sure one of the things which motivated the forward thinking leadership of the Police Association is that you can’t predict what the future holds, but it’s important to know that there’s something there in the event that challenges emerge. Be it from the birth of a remarkable child developing in a non-standard journey, through to work related challenges, through to just ageing and the challenges of that.

We’re very committed to the NDIS being here for the future. We want to work with people, but it is really fantastic to be part of such a good news announcement as today. This is exactly what the NDIS was created for and it’s great to see the broader community, in this case the South Australian Police Union leadership, grasping the opportunity, doing what they’ve done for the whole time of their existence, standing up for the industrial interests of their members.

And South Australia has always been a leader in new ideas, from the vote for women to a range of propositions. And this is yet again another example of the South Australian community coming together in the best interests of their members and their fellow citizens. Congratulations.

/Public Release. View in full here.