Minister Shorten’s Address to the National Press Club Q&A – Release of the NDIS Review


LAURE TINGLE: Thanks for the speech, Minister. If I could start with the crucial question of money and, as you say, quite an extraordinary outcome from National Cabinet yesterday. Can you explain, given the Commonwealth/State finances are always so fraught, do you believe that there are now incentives in the design of how you're sorting things out so that both levels of government have an interest in getting all the supports back which disappeared when the NDIS came?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Yeah, I think yesterday was a remarkable day. I would say yesterday was a day when the nation's political systems worked. I'm not saying that happens every day, but I think yesterday they did. Sure, there was some positioning beforehand and plenty of issues for the nation to grapple with - our hospitals, the GST and of course the NDIS. But I think that the leadership shown by the Prime Minister and the Premiers was nothing short of outstanding. 

Now, it didn't happen in isolation of the work beforehand. The scheme was set up with. The scheme was set up with a 50-50 contribution between the states and the feds. The states had managed to secure an arrangement where if the scheme costs increased, they would contribute an increase of 4% a year but any increase above that fell solely on the Commonwealth. 

So, there's been a number of confluences which came together to, I think, secure the finances for the Scheme. One - the rest of the world looks at us and says, wow, the NDIS is pretty unique and pretty special. You could travel to any other part of the world, and this is an exceptional scheme. Other disability groups around the world say, "How did you do it?" So, there's enough money in the Scheme and we company afford to moderate the amount going from 15% down to about 8%. But there's enough money. The question is, could we reinvest some of those savings in a system outside the Scheme, so the Scheme doesn't essentially become the golden ticket, it's either that or nothing. 

So, the foundational supports proposition, which was advanced by the Review, they looked and said alright, let’s create a continuum so there's less pressure in being in or out and we focus on the needs of the person and lining up the supports that suit them. 

So, I genuinely think it was a very important step yesterday, complementing the Review today which has said, we think we can see the horizon. We want to work with people. The way that you ultimately improve the NDIS is you look after people on the Scheme, and you make sure there's support outside the Scheme. And we’ll do that together, it's not about creating new bureaucracies, everything collaborative, working together. So, I do actually genuinely believe that the omens are good.

MICHAEL READ, AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW: Minister, the NDIS review flags a transition away from plan managers. Can you elaborate why their services will no longer be necessary in their current form? And just how significant is the pushback you expect from both plan managers and other business providers whose business models have been essentially upended by the review?

SHORTEN: The NDIS doesn't exist to serve a particular service provider. It exists to serve the best interests of people with disabilities and the families of the people who love them. (APPLAUSE) Thank you. The taxpayer, the Australian taxpayer, has done a really decent thing about funding the NDIS and if you scratch the surface, they probably think that's one of the better uses for taxes as opposed to, perhaps, politicians' wages. (LAUGHTER) So they don't mind that. 

But they do expect it to go to the person for whom the Scheme was designed and, you know, we'll work with the Coalition so I won't be too hard on the last nine years, but I will say this, that I think the agency was under-gunned in the past and didn't have enough resources, so what's happened is that nature hates a vacuum and so does the NDIS. So, where there was a need to help participants with decisions, where there is a need to help participants with invoices, if the Agency didn't have enough people to do it, or there wasn’t enough clear direction, then business opportunities have sprung up. And that's fine. 

But now what we need to do is say, do you really need to pay a portion of your package to someone who you send an invoice to, who then sends it the Government? 

So, I think if we can work in real time, and there's a lot of things to be done. As for the people working, most people end up in disability not just for the money. In fact, very few people do, other than some of the providers. But there’s a lot of great people working in the NDIS world. There’s 325,000 people. Normally you can't just be a carer if you don't care the person. There’s a few, but most of them are there for the right reasons, I see it every day. 

So, I say that as we make our changes, I want to eliminate the ticket clipping in between the scheme and the person. The aim of the Scheme is not to see double-digit, 20%, 30%, 40% returns to particular businesses. It's to look after the people on the scheme and their families. 

I'm sure that good businesses have absolutely nothing to worry about and I'm really sure, with the workforce shortage that there will be more jobs tomorrow than there was today, and by next week we'll need another 1,000 and by next year – the Scheme is going to grow. 

To this is a growth industry, and I want people to see this as a worthwhile career. But as for particular business models, it's not the job of the government to create NDIS millionaires. It's to look after the people in the Scheme. And in a beauty parade, I'm picking the person in a wheelchair, not the multi-millionaire business provider who might be making double-digit returns. If you're doing a good job, I love you, but you aren't the reason I get out of bed every morning.

SARAH BASFORD-CANALES, THE GUARDIAN: Thank you, Minister, for your speech. The Review proposes foundational supports over the next five years be brought up to a level where people on the Scheme could eventually be transitioned to those supports. Automatic access will also be removed if the Government does adopt the recommendations. How confident are you that the gap won't just get bigger? And what's your guarantee to people who might be worried they'll be kicked off the lifeboat as you call it and into a sea of developing or yet-to-be developed financial supports?

SHORTEN: I can understand why people are anxious because there's muscle memory in the disability world. I think about 60% of Australians have some exposure to disability, and about 40% perhaps don't have so much exposure. But any one of those 60% know that families have fought hard. They fight hard every day. They want to make sure that their family member, or indeed the person with a disability themselves, fights hard to be heard, to be seen, to be included. So, they will have a muscle memory. As soon as you use the word change, people go righto, someone's coming after the bare things that I've got. That is so far from the motivation of this. 

What we do recognise is that this Scheme is working imperfectly. That is not an exceptional proposition. Everyone would agree, it's not working perfectly. What we want to do is make it a more human experience. We also want to make sure that some of the people currently extracting some of the $36 billion last year and the $41 billion next year, that those people extracting for themselves, that it gets back to use more productively for outcomes for participants. 

But I can understand when you talk about change, people say, oh, I don't want to go back to the way it was. There is no radical change in this document at all. There is a there is a definite endeavour to get it back on track. 

That's what made yesterday such a significant milestone. What we saw is state governments and the Commonwealth agree that there is a job to be done outside the NDIS. That is really significant, but we're not making change overnight or next week or even next month. Everything's got to be done with people. 

The Scheme is going to grow every year. The scheme is going to grow by, it's going to grow by more than 8% for the next couple of years, with the best will in the world, but we hope to in about year three, year four, to get it to around 8% growth. So, in a scenario where the Scheme is growing, people should therefore say, well, that's good. In a scenario where we say we're going to be talking with and collaborating with, that's good. In a scenario where we say nothing changes overnight or next week, that's good. 

And of course, we've got to make sure that we actively create the foundational supports. I understand that is a condition. It's a package deal, that if we're going to make reforms in the Scheme that we also see the development of a more inclusive Australia. That is what makes what happened yesterday such a useful contribution. 

So, I'm confident that as we work with people, as we work with our school system, as we work with our childcare system, as we develop our workforce, I'm confident we'll get it right. And at every stage we will be listening, listening, listening. Thanks, Sarah.

SARAH BASFORD-CANALES, THE GUARDIAN: So, a guarantee that no one's going to be left behind as a result of this transition?

SHORTEN: Yeah, that hasn't been my track record in the 15 years that I've ever been in politics.

DAN JERVIS-BARDY, THE WEST AUSTRALIAN: People with a disability might read the Review, see what's proposed in regards to assessments, and have flashbacks to what was proposed under the former government. What assurance can you give those people and their families that you're not introducing independent assessments 2.0 and if so, how?

SHORTEN: The only word in common between this proposal and perhaps what our predecessors tried to inflict, is the word assessment. But everything behind it is different. I'll give you some examples, proof points. 

The reality is, right now, the planning can be a remote sort of affair, that you submit your details to a local area coordinator, who then passes it on to a planner. You might get a plan; you might even meet the person who's doing a plan. So, the first thing is we're putting the humans back into the system, that no plan can be set without the person doing the assessment meeting with the people about whom you're assessing. 

The other thing, though, I'd say here, is under the old scheme, they were allocating 20 minutes an interview or half an hour an interview. These assessments are not time limited. Under the old plan, there wasn't sufficient focus on making sure that the assessor was highly qualified. So, the ‘what’ we're doing is different. The ‘how’ we're doing it is different, but also what we do with the information is different. So, who's going to do the assessment is different to the old proposals. How are we going to do it is different, but also what we do with the information. See what happened under the old scheme, or the old proposal, was that the model was that the decision would be made. That's it. When we do an assessment, they then have got to go back and talk to the person who they've assessed and talk about it. 

I think another proof point, though, finally, if you're not already amazingly convinced [LAUGHTER], is the states and territories rejected independent assessments, but they've liked the process that we're talking about. But we'll keep working on it with them. Thanks, Dan.

NATASSIA CHRYSANTHOS, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD/THE AGE: First, would you mind just clarifying to what extent these changes would be grandfathered? So specifically, will some people be moved from individual packages to foundational supports when they're ready and their supports are reassessed? And to have you modelled how many people that would apply to? And then just a quick question on equity, we know that NDIS uptake for children has been higher in the regions of Australia, where teachers and health workers are already in short supply. Five years isn't a huge amount of time. How do you plan on surmounting the significant workforce challenges that come from establishing what's essentially a new foundational support system in those parts of the country?

SHORTEN: It's important that journalists use their terms carefully. And I want to be very clear here when you talk about grandfathering. There is no one on the current scheme who is grandfathered anything. So, you wouldn't want to develop a test of change, which says that the only way that you will sign up to it or not frighten the readers, is say, well, they're not saying they're going to grandfather you - you're not grandfathered now. But then let's move beyond that. These changes have to be rolled in in conjunction with other reforms. The scheme is going to grow in numbers. 

But let's go back to the speech because I think that's a pretty useful reference point. In the past, people were getting on to the scheme by diagnosis, diagnosis alone, in some cases parental diagnoses. What we want to do is actually meet the person who's to go on the Scheme and their family and see what the impact of their diagnosis is having on their daily life. There's no point in giving a child the wrong services. There's no point in saying to a child, or family of a child, oh yeah, we'll just give him 40 hours a week when that's not beneficial. So, what we want to do is make sure that every Australian child who has a developmental delay gets on the radar. 

So that's why I'm more than confident that it'll work through. None of the changes we're looking at for kids would take place for up to two years anyway. In terms of your very important point about the workforce, workforce is a crisis everywhere in Australia, on every issue. We even see it today with the Auslan interpreter. The federal government under Minister Brendan O'Connor, but also Jim Chalmers, has proposed a whole lot of initiatives, including extra TAFE places. We've been working with employers, advocates, and unions about how we can improve the attractiveness of working in the disability sector. You'll see recommendations there about making sure that people don't burn out and drop out of the industry by looking at portable arrangements in between employers. 

We also want to say to carers and to people with disability, there's not enough of you in your own sector working. So, I think there's - none of this happens overnight. But you've got a government who recognises that all of this does, in some fair measure, depend on workforce. But one of the factors, though, with the NDIS is distorting local markets, is if you can get $193 an hour as an allied health professional doing one on one services, it's a lot harder for your school, which might need a special needs teacher or therapist to attract you at much lower rates. 

So, there's a whole lot of thinking got to be done on all of this. But we're across the workforce issue. And again, let's go back to, you say, you want to know a number, how many people are going to lose, how many people are going to move? We haven't modelled that. The point about it, and I don't think that's the right question in all fairness. I mean, you're entitled to ask any question you want, the right answer is I'm interested in each kid. And at the moment, the NDIS is the only option for a whole lot of kids with developmental delay. That's not good enough in this country, is it? Sorry, next question. Thanks, glad you asked. You've asked two.

LAURA TINGLE: Maybe I could just take it up just on the regional issue, Minister. Yeah. I mean, we do have these regional spots where there are a black spots, you know, is anything that’s in the package?

SHORTEN: Sorry if I didn't pick up that point enough, I apologise. One of the things I said in my speech, which perhaps I need to make more clear, is I said, if you live in Melbourne and Sydney and are trying to access disability services, that's way different to living in Maningrida or Longreach or northern Tassie. I mean, Tasmania has got huge worker shortages in these areas. So, what we need to look at doing is in what we call, the jargonistas call ‘thin markets,’ is maybe we need to look at other ways of commissioning services. So right now, already we're working out with the West Australian government for trials there. Ngaree Ah Kit in the Territory with Maningrida. I know that we're working with the aged care portfolio and health federally to do new services down on the south coast, around Eden. 

We think that there's different ways to deliver the services, which mean that people can actually utilise their packages. One of the inequitable things is you might have a package for $40,000, but because there's nowhere there to help you with the needs you have, you don't actually utilise it. So, we think that it's not one size fits all. And we think that alternative commissioning, I mean, councils play a very good role here. We can work with the states where they might be delivering a service. How do we make Aboriginal controlled and community health organisations in Port Hedland, they might have 40 or 50 members of their community who are on the NDIS, but they can't use it. It would be better if we were able to say to them, listen, you need physio, you need OT, maybe speech pathology, maybe psychology, if we could work out a way that the person has the individual package. But that part of their package is funnelled through an accredited service provider in a thin market, so that employer can actually offer meaningful work to speechies or OTS or psychologists in that community, and everyone can actually get real utilisation.

CLAUDIA LONG, ABC: I guess just in an ideal world where we see all of these foundational supports built up, is there anything to stop a situation, for example, where an NDIS participant is referred to the allied health services that you've been talking about within a school or a hospital, and then they find out that there's a lengthy waiting list of a number of years. How are you going to guarantee, and not just you, but the government more widely, how are you going to guarantee that the states are going to come through on their promise to actually guarantee these supports? You know, we've heard a lot about the carrot. Is there going to be a stick? 

SHORTEN: Well, earlier last week, earlier this week, some of the media were riding the state said they wouldn't be engaged at all. But yesterday, National Cabinet seems to show a massive level of engagement. I'm optimistic that the states are engaged. That's why yesterday was significant. We'll work together on it. If you say to me, please show me everything for 5- or 10-yearsyears’ time and I want it right now, I can't. I can guarantee you this. This is the best plan in town. Now, do I think that there'll be some wrinkles in it? We've got to iron out talking to people with disabilities. Sure. Do I think there'll be really good points made by service providers saying, is that too heavy red tape or not? Sure. Look, there is zero arrogance about this. 

But I put to you the counterfactual: if we do nothing, then it all eventually falls over. Well, that's just on all of us because we were too lazy to try. We're not going through, perhaps, dare I say it, the cruder things of rationing and say, you know, an algorithm says you get one, you get $10,000 and you get $20,000, you get 30, and that's it. We're not doing any of that either. I'm not saying this is the best plan, and I'm saying we will make it a better plan as we go along together with the States and with people with disability, most importantly. 

But it is the only viable plan. I am not willing to give up and say, well, because you can't answer every question on every bit of modelling and every bit of losers and winners, and you know, what about someone in five years’ time who might not be on the scheme, I want you to guarantee that they'll be no worse off - you can't do that. 

What you can do, though, is say we're going to keep them honest. If you're saying, how do we make, how do we keep the states honest? By doing this, by working together, by collaboration. The review is a serious piece of work. It's real. It reflects the lived experience not just of the last 12 months, but of what a lot of us have been thinking over for a long time. So - and it'll be on you, the media, to help keep the states honest, not to simply print everything they might say to you. You know, we've all got a job here, but I'm pretty happy with the states, to be honest. And I know all the disability ministers and they're very motivated. So, there's a lot of goodwill. 

CLAUDIA LONG, ABC: So just to clarify, that means if one of the states, say, falls behind in a particular development of a particular foundational support instead of, say, fining them, you might approach them and be like, hey, how are you going to lift your game in this? Can you detail it to me?

SHORTEN: Yes, that's a good way of putting it. We don't want to - different states are doing different things already. It's not like, I suppose, the analogy of a lifeboat or an oasis sort of presumes nothing's happening. That's not quite fair. There is work that the states are doing. I acknowledge that, and some really innovative stuff. Just work together. I find if you can get a coalition of people with goodwill, people with disability, service providers, families, advocates, engaged members of parliament, politicians, we can probably solve most problems if we just decide what's most important. And for me, what's most important is the best outcome for the person with a disability. That will help us sort out the rest of it when it gets hard.

SARA ISON, THE AUSTRALIAN: Just to follow up on Natassia's question, to be clear, some families who get individual support packages now could in the two-year timeframe you were speaking of go to foundational system if that is best for them, I just wanted to clarify that. And Professor Bonyhady has said the scheme was designed for 1 in 50 Australians. Do you think it's feasible with these reforms to return to such a rate?

SHORTEN: Well, let's go to the individual, because that's who I'm more concerned about at the moment. And I'm speaking now directly to literally hundreds of thousands of families. We know that the NDIS is changing lives, and we don't want to go back to the old ways. We do get, though, that the scheme needs to be run better, and part of the way we run it better is by developing more supports outside the scheme. This will take time. I'm not going to say, can I guarantee a particular individual is in or out because frankly, I haven't done the assessment of them. I don't know how the child is going. I don't know what the circumstances of the family are. 

What I can say, though, is if you have a significant and permanent disability, which has quite an impact on your functioning, you will be in the scheme. If you have a developmental delay, which could be supported by another means of support other than an individual package, you will get what you need. For me, this is all about what the people need, not about trying to fit them around a process. in terms of the number of kids on the scheme now, going to Bruce's point, I mean, Bruce is very smart, so I won't try and put words in his mouth. But I did say in my speech that one of the things which we didn't expect when the Scheme was set up was the level of unmet need. And we're getting better at diagnosing people. We're getting better at actually detecting developmental delay. I you know, I've - one of my critics said that somehow, I don't believe in autism. I believe autistic people are really I believe the diagnosis. What I don't accept is that one size fits all. You know, this is a pretty bold experiment. The idea you can provide individual support to our fellow human beings, I think it's a worthy it's a worthy exercise, but it's an individual system. 

So, I think the more that we can avoid the generalisations, and the more we get back to the needs of individuals and deliver it in the best way possible, then I think every family will be better off.

SARA ISON, THE AUSTRALIAN: So not going back to the 1 in 50 as it was designed?

SHORTEN: Oh, again, I think you're looking for a particular word out of my mouth. And I'm not, well, I'm not playing that. Because you know what? I really just give a stuff about people with disability and the people on the Scheme. We're going to work every day for you. That's all I can say. And we will listen to you every day, and we will respect you every day. And I'll make sure if a kid has a developmental delay, that we create a system in this country that every child gets support. I'm just agnostic about the best way to do it NDIS, childcare, schools, other forms of support. Thanks.

ANDRW PROBYN, NETWORK NINE: Bill Shorten, Andrew Probyn from Network Nine.

SHORTEN: I thought you were saying you were Bill Shorten. [LAUGHTER]

ANDRW PROBYN, NETWORK NINE: You're so much more handsome. 

SHORTEN: The years haven't been kind to you. Anyway…

PROBYN: Now, you've got quite a task ahead of you getting the trajectory of the NDIS from 13 down to eight. It's going to take a joint effort, but how much of that effort is going to be moderating the growth through tightening eligibility, which goes to Sarah's question there and also Natassia's question, and also from eliminating fraud, price gouging and overservicing, which is another way of saying how much is being wasted through overservicing, fraud, price gouging?

SHORTEN: I think it's all of the above will contribute to the 8% target, but more importantly, it will contribute to a functioning scheme delivering, both inside and out, for people with disability. It's hard to put a number on waste. It's harder to measure than you know, a number of theoretical kids in and out in any particular year. My own gut instinct is that there are some people having a lend of this scheme, not the people on it, but there are some people who are having a party on this scheme and the party's got to stop. I do think there is waste. I do think there is criminality. Of course, it's very hard to put a number, as I've discovered, as I argue with treasury and finance, what is the criminality? Because you've got to catch it to prove it. But my instinct is that there are improvements in terms of effect - if we make this a more humane scheme, if you as a family and a person can have one person to deal with year in, year out, rather than four different people in a year, if you don't have to each year, go and prove your disability again, your lifelong disability again, if you have five year default plans, if we have a system of prices in Australia which outlaws the ability of someone to sell you a protein shake, and then they put the words NDIS in front of it and call an NDIS protein shake and then charge more for it. 

So, I actually think that that is the sweet spot. But I also recognise we need to clarify eligibility. We need to make sure that people are receiving evidence based, best practice services. We also need - the Scheme is very much focused on providing individual, hour by hour adult therapies to kids. In some cases that makes sense, but I think somewhere along the line, families have been forgotten. I think it's psychosocial supports, the recovery model has been neglected. So, I think all of these reforms collectively will contribute to better outcomes for participants. And that's what makes it virtuous. Better outcomes for people with disability equals better economics.

PROBYN: Mr. Shorten, is it billions going to shonks and shysters?

SHORTEN: I can't put a number on it, but my people say between 5% - listen, I it would be more scientific to throw a dart at a board but just - I know, I get it, I get thousands of emails. There are some people having a lend of this Scheme and you really need to hear what we're saying here today. We want you to be accountable. Most service providers are excellent, okay? Let's be very clear. But I want to counter. And not every registered service provider is a saint. And many unregistered service providers are doing very good work. And they've been a very good, innovative tool to give people choice and control. But there's got to be accountability. There just has to be accountability. How do we maintain the social licence for this Scheme is by prioritising the best interests of people with disability, with a sense that all of us as Australians, are confident that they're not being ripped off by ticket clippers and people seeking to siphon off a portion of funds really just for themselves and not for the person for whom the Scheme was designed.

ANTHONY GALLOWAY, CAPITAL BRIEF: Thanks for the speech, Minister. As you alluded to before, you were involved in the early stages of setting up the NDIS. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but are there one or two things you wish you had recommended the government do all the way back then? Or is it a case that we had to kind of go through this decade long trial to kind of figure out what were the problems for this next stage of the NDIS?

SHORTEN: Anthony, you forgot to say your business?


SHORTEN: Okay. That was Anthony Galloway from Capital Press. It's moved away from, it’s a startup.

GALLOWAY: Thanks. Thanks for the free advert [LAUGHTER].

SHORTEN: That’s alright. That’s Mr. Anthony Galloway [LAUGHTER]. That's a great question. It's one where, you know, I can almost hear the gears in the heads of so many people here winding over that, what would you do differently? I think it was always inevitable we'd have a mark two moment. Would we do things differently? Clearly, we would actually do quite a lot of what we're proposing now then. 

But maybe it always had to be this iterative process, you know, and maybe we had to, you know, yes, I think there's been, I wish a lot of the individual decisions that have been made weren't made about individual packages and people being, you know, thousands of people had to go to court, all of that. So, I probably if I had one thing, how would we belt and brace to make sure that the Agency was given more respect and had more resources? I think at a certain point, the very best ideal of the NDIA became sort of metastasised into ‘we're a payment system and leave us alone’ about the rest of it. And I think that you can't pay billions of dollars out into the world to people and not pay attention to the whole disability system. I think some people thought, well, we've got the money, and we pay individuals. That's the end of our obligations. So perhaps we could have had better leaders in the NDIA earlier. But, you know, like we're here now and we'll just get on with it.

SARA TOMEVSKA, SBS: Thanks for your speech. I asked you a similar question back in April, when you spoke at the Press Club about the underrepresentation of culturally and linguistically diverse people on the scheme. I'll give a different example; I spoke to a single mum whose son was diagnosed with non-verbal autism at the age of three and a half. Until then, she didn't know what was, you know, the situation, and she had never heard the word autism. She thought she was just a bad mum, which is really heartbreaking. 

So how do these reforms actually help culturally diverse people who maybe don't speak English as a first language, there might be stigma or there might be other barriers to actually access the scheme?

SHORTEN: Well, there are some specific propositions in the report on that. I'll use an analogy, like, how these foundational supports get built out is still a work in progress. But to use an analogy, one thing which I think works well in quite a lot of states of Australia is the maternal and child health nurse service. Basically, every baby that's born, every family, gets access to someone who understands maternal and child health issues. We would like to create that same sort of person for disability and developmental delay, so that you get a universal screening. There's been great work done by Telethon, Telethon Institute, but by other universities all around Australia, the way we pick up for not just CALD communities but working-class people or people in regions or remote, First Nations, is that commitment to look at universal screening for developmental delay. And that's the sort of thing which we have in mind. 

And then you've got to have people who you can talk to. And that's where we're talking about our navigators. We also want to talk about, the Review talks about, developing a category of person in the system, which are called lead practitioners. So, you can go and talk to people. If there is a particular need, you can get funnelled into the right place. At the moment it's too hard to find. 

So, we need to, I think, comprehend disability as part of a child's development, developmental delay has to be one of the things we look at, the same as hearing loss or the same as immunisations. So, I think that would be part of it. Another part which helps CALD communities is and I sort of referred to it generally in my speech about a sort of wealthy professional class and the others. I think the proposal from the Review about the Agency funding the reports starts to make it a lot easier to eliminate the equity issues, which you correctly identified. I know the Agency has already been taking up steps from the new leadership about how we reach out to culturally and linguistically diverse communities as well. 

So, you know, having an agency that's switched on, that there are people who can't just simply just walk in and use the system as easy as others. I think universal screening, I think the creation of disability navigators and the broader community all mean that we start to identify the challenges. The earlier we can pick up a kid’s challenge, we can then give them more options, and it just really can help a great deal.

TOMEVSKA: Would navigators who speak other languages, that’s part of it? 

SHORTEN: Yeah, that's important part of it, yes. There's no doubt that we need to. I mean, one good thing the agency does, and I think at last, it's 17% of the agency are people with disabilities, but I know the agency's got a focus on recruiting people from diverse backgrounds. And that would certainly be a principle. Thanks, Sarah.

LAURA TINGLE: Unfortunately, the Minister has to get back for Question Time, so we're going to have to leave it there. 

SHORTEN: Sorry about that. Yep, great.

LAURA TINGLE: So please, thank him for speaking to us today.