Launching The NDIS (30/04/2012)

NDISmain2.gifPrime Minister Julia Gillard - Sydney

It’s a great day to join everybody here. And everybody here is someone with a powerful story.

A powerful story about what it’s like to live a life with a disability.

A powerful story about the lives of their family and their friends.

The lives of disability care workers and service providers.

And we know disability can be for a lifetime.

Which is why a lifetime of care and support for people with disability makes sense.

But we’re all here today because we know that’s the aspiration but we also know today it isn’t like that.

You know this already from the stories of your own life.

The system is unfair, it’s under funded, it’s fragmented and it’s inefficient and we can do better.

We’re all here as Australians and we all know that this is a great country. Australia is a country where we can be good at solving problems like the ones we’ve been hearing about today. 

We’re a country when we all see that something needs to be done, when we see that there are people who are missing out, when we understand that there’s something that we can do, we’re a country that’s really good at getting it done.

Once, old age used to mean disadvantage.

So this country said, our country said - Australians are missing out, there’s something we can do.

And a hundred years ago through the pension, and then more recently through superannuation, we’ve made sure that old age doesn’t have to mean being left behind.

Once, sickness used to mean disadvantage.

So again this country, this country, our country said - Australians are missing out, there’s something we can do.

And thirty years ago, through Medicare, we made sure that being sick doesn’t mean that you get left behind.

I’m tremendously proud of these great Labor reforms, which responded to real community needs and shaped a better future.

Now we’re here today because it’s time to respond to another group of Australians who are missing out.

You’re here today.

People with disability, your family, your carers, people who aren’t getting a fair go in today’s Australia.

In today’s Australia, disability does mean disadvantage.

Over 400,000 Australians have significant and permanent disabilities that require ongoing care and support.

Today, more than 100,000 of you get no help through the current arrangements.

A hundred thousand Australians with disability are left behind altogether by government disability care, left to rely entirely on family, friends and other informal support.

The nearly 300,000 Australians with a disability who do get care, can’t be sure that you get the care you need.

Instead, you basically get a ticket in what can be a very cruel lottery.

A lottery where access to services and support depends on your postcode or on the cause of your disability rather than on your need.

Disability doesn’t discriminate – it could happen to any of us.

Any one of us could fall off a ladder, or have a stroke.

Any one of us could have a child or a grandchild born with cerebral palsy or Down syndrome.

We know Australians are missing out.

All of you here, and around the country, have raised your voice, you’ve campaigned magnificently.

And no one can say today, that the current system is good enough or it’s fair enough. 

The system is broken.

And now – we also know that there’s something we can do.

Because of your campaign, because of the work we asked the Productivity Commission to do, because of the work of Jenny Macklin, we know there is a practical, affordable, long-lasting solution.

That’s why we’re all here today.

For just one reason.

Because we know Australia is ready for a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

So friends, I’ve come today to join you for one purpose.

Today I can announce that in the May Budget, my Government, your Labor Government will fund our share for the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

We will do our part.

And of course we will be working with the States and Territories who are willing to do theirs.

We will launch a full year sooner than the Productivity Commission suggested.

That means from the middle of next year, select launch sites around the country will begin serving around 10,000 people with disability.

Growing to 20,000 people from the middle of 2014.

Places where people with significant and permanent disability, their families and carers will have their needs assessed, and will start to receive personalised care and support.

And the work of these launch sites will give us the vital lessons we need to go ahead with national roll-out when our discussions with the States and Territories are done.

Friends, this is good news today - good news for Australia and it’s happening for two reasons.

First, because of the unity, the courage of the disability community.

And second because we’ve listened to you, Labor has listened to you. I’ve listened to you and I’ve heard your message of change and it’s time to make it real now.

So I want you to promise me one thing: promise me you won’t stop campaigning, and I promise you, we won’t stop working.

You are saying – something has to change.

Today, I’m saying – you’ve waited long enough.

Because people with disability are missing out – because we have a plan which will work – Australia is ready for a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Thank you.