August 03, 2022

Thank you, Deputy Speaker, and I'll take this opportunity to congratulate you on your election to your role. Well done, and I'm sure you'll perform brilliantly—as you've already started to do.

I've served in the House for almost a decade, and whenever I've made a contribution on the National Disability Insurance Scheme it has been to highlight the woeful administration and vicious, cruel and callous cuts made by the previous Liberal government. In the last few months of the Morrison government, 220 participants were having their funding slashed by 20 per cent or more each and every day. This is a shocking indictment of those opposite and how we as a nation look after some of the most vulnerable people in our community. So it's good to recognise that the Albanese government has reacted swiftly to address these shocking cuts and appalling review processes participants have to contend with. I commend the Minister for the NDIS for establishing the alternative dispute resolution scheme, which will hopefully spare participants and their families and carers the inconvenience and, in many cases, the trauma of having to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

I want to draw the attention of the House to the experience of a particularly vulnerable constituent of mine who is suffering because of the cuts to her plan. Vicki from Speers Point was born blind and has congenital rubella syndrome. Over the past few years her hearing has deteriorated to a point where she can no longer hear without hearing aids, and even with hearing aids she has difficulty. All medical evidence provided to the agency indicates that Vicki requires more support. However, in their wisdom, they have actually cut Vicki's funding. This is a highly at-risk participant who is blind and deaf and who requires significant assistance, and the NDIS have cut the much-needed support she has at a time when she actually requires more assistance. Vicki and her carer are now enduring the internal review process. I can tell the House that I have never come across an internal review at the NDIS that has changed the original decision. If the decision is upheld, they will have to go to the AAT. This is wrong. That is why the new mechanism being introduced by the government is so sorely needed.

It's often said that a mark of a civilised society is how they treat their most vulnerable. Well, on this test, the way the NDIS has been cutting participants' plans, we are failing. People with disability and their families and carers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They should not have to justify over and over again to bureaucrats why support is necessary. The NDIS is one of the Labor legacies, along with Medicare, compulsory superannuation and needs based school funding, that I'm so proud of. The coalition trashed the system during their decade in office, and that's why I'm so proud that the Albanese government is enacting much-needed change to ensure people with disability get the care they deserve.