International Day of People with Disability
Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (12:54): I rise to support the motion. I will make some very brief comments on it. Basically, I want to highlight a few issues with the NDIS. Certainly, I think it is a very positive step forward. But people need to realise that fear of change, particularly in terms of parents who have a child with a disability, is one of the very important things that we, as a parliament, need to recognise. Particularly as parents get older and age, they fear their child being disadvantaged, if not abandoned, by changes to the rules.
The NDIS offers great opportunity; however, the work that Disability SA did was greatly appreciated. At home, we had Di Hennessy who did amazing work. The change that I need the government to understand is that it went from where funding was applied to Disability SA, and they provided a range of services. Now we are going to individual funding. If you take just a simple exercise like respite care or craft, if you had 15 people in the class, Disability SA would run a program and advertise it.
Now it has gone to individual funding with individual plans. Those who are signing up for their plans may not actually know the range of services out there. To get a critical number to make that class or respite work, you need a cohort signing up. I still firmly believe that Disability SA had an important role in the transition to NDIS and it upsets me greatly that that opportunity has been missed.
I also want to talk about Bedford and the great work that Bedford in Mount Gambier offers in terms of employment opportunities. I have a sister who has a disability, and you see what adverse effects can occur through a disability pension where effectively they are paid and they stay at home. It leads to isolation, and it leads to mental health issues. I know that people talk about programs and getting people involved; it is a lot harder to do than it is to say.
I encourage the government, where possible, to use this transition and NDIS funding for the betterment of all people. There is no greater achievement, in my mind, than having all people in work. I would like us as a parliament to recognise that. Wherever we can assist that, without the fear of their pension being taken away, it is a vital step in the mental health and the connectedness of people with disabilities in our community.