Minister Rishworth Interview on ABC Adelaide with Stacey Lee and David Bevan


Topics: Strengthening employment support for people with disability, early Autism diagnoses and interventions

STACEY LEE, HOST: Amanda Rishworth is the Federal Minister for Families and Social Services and joins you now.


STACEY LEE: So, the Federal government has announced some more money going towards Disability Enterprises to try and employ more people. $57 million. How many people with a disability will you be able to employ as a result of this $57 million?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, this money is not necessarily just going to employing more people with disability, but to improve the options available. I think many of us may not know that the Disability Enterprises have evolved out of what were considered the old sheltered workshops. Obviously, that model of employment is really not appropriate these days. The Disability Royal Commission has identified that we need more career paths for people in these organisations. We need to make sure that they're getting training and fairer wages. So, what this money is about is structural adjustment for many of these Disability Enterprises to ensure that they're providing these opportunities for people living with disability who are employed by Disability Enterprises. In addition, it's also about Disability Enterprises that are really state of the art, increasing their opportunities for procurement from government and other companies, as well as obviously providing advocacy support for those employed in these organisations.

STACEY LEE: Okay and now, Minister, we wanted to ask you about a report in the Australian yesterday as well, in regards to the NDIS. We've been hearing reports constantly since even before the Federal Budget that the NDIS costs are getting extremely high now. There was a story yesterday that early intervention or early identification of autism and other neurodiverse impacts on young people might help save some money in the NDIS. How would that work? If you're diagnosing autism a bit earlier, wouldn't that mean people are spending longer getting some of the disability insurance scheme?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, what we announced yesterday is actually not directly related to the NDIS. But indeed we want to try two new pilots that look at early well, not really diagnosis, identifying early signs and implementing what are called pre-emptive early interventions. So that will support people that are neurodiverse or little children that may be showing signs of neurodiversity, to be put around them the right environment. So, that is support for parents. It is ensuring that whether it's their playing, whether it's their interventions, the right support early on. And what the evidence in a very early trial in Western Australia has shown is many of these children don't go on and necessarily get a diagnosis because what they're doing is they've had the right environment and support early on that they are able to reach many developmental milestones. So, that is what these pilots are about, first and foremost, they're about supporting parents and families and it's about ensuring that we're offering different pathways and different options in terms of early intervention.

STACEY LEE: Right, okay. And that early diagnosis would be key to the wait time to get a diagnosis, though. Just here in South Australia, in the public systems it’s over twelve months. I think if you go private, you can cut that in half to about six, but you've got to pay up to $2,000 to get it. So, is there a way that you can speed up that process at all to make sure that early diagnosis is occurring?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: It’s not about looking just for diagnosis, it's about identifying early signs. So it’s not about yes or no, because the interventions are about play, about how parents can best support their children. It's about the environment around them. So, it's not necessarily diagnostic based, but it is just looking and screening for signs and then putting in interventions early. This is before a diagnosis is made. So, it is really, by definition, early intervention and diagnosis well before a diagnosis is actually given.

STACEY LEE: Okay. And so then if you don't get to the point of diagnosis, then that's where the cost savings potentially to the NDIS could come in.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Like I said, this isn't being driven by cost savings. But what that means is that those children are reaching their developmental milestones and they're in an environment that allows them to thrive, that adjustments have been made in the home and outside the home to make sure that they are able to reach their developmental potential. And that's good for the children, it's good for the parents, and of course means that they rely on less complex interventions later on.

STACEY LEE: Okay. Amanda Rishworth, thank you for your time.