March 21, 2014

SUBJECT/S: National Disability Insurance Scheme

CHRIS UHLMANN: As we’ve heard the former Labor Government kicked off the National Disability Insurance Scheme a year earlier than recommended by the Productivity Commission.

And two months before a Federal election.

The review found that’s compromised some parts of the scheme.

But former Labor Minister for Disability Reform told Sarah Dingle she doesn’t regret the decision to start the scheme early.

MACKLIN: Not at all. There are 2,500 people with a disability who have already benefitted from the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

And disability groups all over the country are calling on the Abbott Government not to delay the further rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Because people with disability need these additional services.

People who are not getting even two showers a week – that’s how bad the system is.

The current system of disability care is totally broken.

DINGLE: The recent Review has outlined a number of problems with the Agency that is running the launch sites.

It says the Agency’s IT system is not fit for purpose, senior management positions haven’t been filled and internal communications are poor.

If something is worth doing as you say this is, it’s worth doing properly, surely?

MACKLIN: No doubt about it.

And the purpose of the Board getting this capability review done is to make sure any problems that do exist are identified early and dealt with.

And so they should be.

The last thing that people with disability want is a Government that uses this to delay and save money - to cut funding from the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

DINGLE: Don’t these glitches mean that scarce funds will now have to be spent re-doing things like upgrading IT systems?

MACKLIN: It was always going to be the case that of course there is going to have to be a bigger IT system, at the moment the scheme is being delivered out to around 20,000 people when it’s fully rolled out it will be for 460,000 people.

The real question is will the Abbott Government deliver it in full and on time so that people with disability get the care and support they so desperately need.  

DINGLE: If that rollout is pushed back won’t that be at least partly Labor’s fault?

MACKLIN: It would be absolutely disastrous for people with disability.

The rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme is scheduled to take to 2018-19.  Let’s just fix whatever problems exist and get on with making sure people with disability get the support they need.

UHLMANN: The now Opposition spokesperson for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin.