SUBJECTS: NDIS Review, High Court decision
BRIGID GLANVILLE, HOST: Let's take you to Canberra now, because Australians living with a disability are still digesting the impact of this week's major review into the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The landmark report featured 26 recommendations and 139 supporting actions. The Minister for NDIS and Government Services, Bill Shorten, joins us now. A very good morning to you, Minister. What commitment can you make to Australians living with a disability that the NDIS 2.0 will be a fairer and more equitable system?
BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICESHORTEN: Good morning Brigid. The NDIS is here to stay and it's our intention to make sure that every dollar in the scheme gets through to the people for whom the scheme was designed. Our commitment is that with these changes, and they'll take a while to work through, and we'll have to talk to a lot of people to make sure we do it properly, that the experience on the NDIS will be more humane and less bureaucratic, and we also send a very clear message to the minority of shonky providers that the good old days of under servicing and overcharging and looking after yourself, not the people, well they come to an end.
GLANVILLE: Was this pretty widespread, unscrupulous providers and as you say, shonky services, exploiting the system?
SHORTEN: Well, the vast majority of service providers are excellent. The workforce is excellent. But what we do know, and what I have seen since coming back into government, is that in the last nine years, a whole world of unregistered providers has developed, and many of them are very good, let me say, and they give choice and control to people, but some of them are just providing rubbish services, overcharging, treating people on the scheme as human ATMs and we want to stop that. And also the other thing, which frankly is very distressing to see is, when you see some service providers put the words NDIS in front of a aluminium bath chair or a protein shake or a particular service, and charge more than if they hadn't put the words NDIS in front of it. It's like a wedding tax and we want to get rid of that.
GLANVILLE: For parents and especially, you know, parents of young people, Australians living with autism, also adults as well, who might be a little bit anxious, Minister about these changes, thinking where do I go? What service can I access if this if the NDIS is not for me, what's your message to them?
SHORTEN: Well, I can understand your anxiety but there is no need to be. I regret some of the coverage which we've seen where people pick, particularly on autistic Australians, and say somehow that what they're getting is unfair or inappropriate. I completely accept that we're learning a lot more about people who are neurodivergent, and we're learning a lot more about autism in the last number of years. What I would say to those parents who've got a package of support under the NDIS is if your child needs to be on the NDIS, they'll remain on the NDIS. What's exciting about this is that we've had a bit of a breakthrough with the States, and the Commonwealth itself is accepting that we need to do more to provide services for people with disabilities, which aren't so profound and severe that they need to be on the NDIS, but they still deserve early intervention. I'm a complete disciple of early intervention, the more we can help kids in their formative first thousand days and their years before school and in the early years of school, I think we can really help a lot of kids with developmental delay do better, but short message, if your child really needs the NDIS, it's going to stay that way for them. Full stop.
GLANVILLE: What's the report recommended for First Nations people living with a disability who face a lot of discrimination at a lot of points trying to access the NDIS, but also through other systems, and there have been a lot of calls for review and changes for those people, hasn't there?
SHORTEN: Yeah, I think that's a very real issue. The scheme has sort of developed in part into a two class scheme. If you're from a wealthy, professional, inner city sort of world in Melbourne and Sydney, you can really access the scheme, but if you live in remote communities in Australia, even if theoretically you can get a package of support, you can't use it. We've already, since getting elected, started to put in place measures to improve access for First Nations kids. But the Review went out, visited remote communities, there are measures suggested there about how we can work with Aboriginal controlled health organisations and the locals to make sure that rather than having fly in, fly out, very expensive services, that we work with people on the ground. We're starting some trials with the Northern Territory in Maningrida very soon. The Northern Territory Minister, Ngaree Ah Kit's been very keen on that, but there's no doubt it's not just First Nations kids, but if you live in regional Australia, the system is not the same. There are what we call thin markets, not enough service providers and so the Reviews suggesting some overdue measures to not just rely on the market, but how can we work with local infrastructure to improve the support, so it's pretty good.
GLANVILLE: On another issue, Minister, we're hearing that another detainee, a fifth person, has been charged since being released or arrested, rather since being released from immigration detention. This is an absolute mess, isn't it?
SHORTEN: Well, I haven't heard that, but what I do know is that the High Court, out of the blue, decided to change the rules for a system that had worked for 20 years. My colleagues have worked night and day since then to reinforce the integrity of our detention system and we passed legislation this week to do exactly that. So, yeah, would I rather the High Court had never made its decision? Probably, but they did, and sometimes you've just got to deal with the facts that you have, not the way that you wish the world would be. But pretty quickly, Claire O'Neill and Andrew Giles have moved here. So yeah, would I'd rather it had been different. Yes. But we are where we are and what the government's done has moved very quickly since that happened.
GLANVILLE: Bill Shorten, we appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.
SHORTEN: Thank you very much, have a lovely day.