Minister Shorten doorstop interview at Clinkids in Perth


JONOTHAN CARAPETIS, DIRECTOR, TELETHON KIDS INSTITUTE: I'd like to acknowledge elders past and present and thank them for their wisdom and their partnership in the women's telephone cases. This is a very big day. It's the launch of the Inklings program, which is a very proud Western Australian piece of research that is now being translated into action that's making a real difference for kids. It's been many years in the making. It's a partnership between the institute, the NDIS, and the Western Australia and health department through child and adolescent health services and Western Australian Country Health Services.

So, we could not have done this without government support, both federal and state. And so, I'm delighted to welcome both Minister Bill Shorten, the Minister for the NDIS and Minister Amber Jade Sanderson, the Western Australian Minister for Health. We're delighted to have you here. Thank you for the support you've given us. Mr. Shorten, I might hand over to you to say a few words.

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Good morning, everybody. It's fantastic to be here. And of course, with one of Australia's leading Health Ministers and Amber Jade Sanderson.

Congratulations to the Telethon Institute, congratulations to the researchers led by Dr. Whitehouse. Today we are launching what I think is not just an Australian leading pilot we think its world leading.

Today I'm pleased to announce that the federal government through the National Disability Insurance Agency will be supporting the Inklings pilot for 700 West Australian families, with $13.8 million over the next three years. This makes it part of a $22 million program led by Western Australia. What the pilot program hopes to do is literally change lives. This program is not about curing autism or anything of that sort of silly context. What it's about is recognizing that precious children in many cases have a non-standard developmental journey. But what it also recognises is that the earlier that we can intervene, the earlier we can help children get the best possible start in life.

I’m not one who believes in the use of the term miracles, but when you see the interventions that Telethon researchers are doing with families and kids, it's about as close to sort of a miracle as you can get, because what we see is that like these two marvellous little children who I've been getting acquainted with, if you can help them early enough in their families, you just give them a different trajectory in life.

Life has a way of presenting unusual challenges, but what families want is they just need support. And what Inklings is doing is supporting families, and it's helping families understand their children. And it's also with these interventions at a very early age, recognizing the fact that a child's brain in the very early years, grows rapidly, develops rapidly. And if we can help at that stage, then what we do is we give these kids much more opportunity than they might otherwise have.

So literally, West Australia has always been a research leader, and yet again, they're maintaining their mantle as one of the leading research states in the Commonwealth. It's great that the National Disability Insurance Agency through its research budget can work with the best in Australia to provide the best opportunities to our children. It's a very very, very exciting morning, I might hand over to my colleague, the Minister for Health for Western Australia Amber Jade Sanderson, to talk a little bit more about this world leading pilot which we're starting for 700 families.

AMBER JADE SANDERSON, WA MINISTER FOR HEALTH: Thanks, Bill and I am thrilled to be here today at the launch of the Inklings pilot and very much welcome the significant investment by the Commonwealth into this pilot.

I want to thank TKI for their ongoing commitment to the development and wellbeing of children in Western Australia for their partnership with Child Adolescent Health Service, and WA Health. This will really make a huge difference to 700 families in Western Australia. And we know that the earlier we intervene, the better the outcomes, not just for the children but for the whole family unit. And that's what this program aims to do. It is it's no secret that there are workforce pressures in this area and there is a growing need to support children. As we intervene earlier, we will ease those pressures as they get moved through the education system, so that they're prepared for life and that their families are prepared to support them through their unique journey into adulthood.

So, this is a hugely exciting time and I’m very pleased to be able to support this pilot through the support of the child adolescent health service and of course the WA Country Health Service, because this will provide regional families with much needed support and early intervention in their local areas. I'll hand back to Bill and Jonathan for some questions.

CARAPETIS: Thank you, Minister Sanderson. Thank you, Minister Shorten, and I should also acknowledge Professor Andrew Whitehouse, who's really led the team that has developed Inklings and is helping to roll it out. So, we are now open for any questions you might have for the Ministers or for Professor Whitehouse.

JOURNALIST: What efforts are being made to roll this out beyond WA and have you seen interest beyond this state?

SHORTEN: It's fair to say that Premiers around Australia are interested in what this research and this pilot can do. I'm like a lot of people when I first speak to, and I meet parents and kids, we sort of want to get it all done yesterday. But this is the next stage in the research, 700 families. I think it'll firm up the evidence and will firm up a lot of the lessons, but I think there was a lot of interest all around Australia in this.

I think we intuitively get that the earlier we can intervene in a kid's life and support them in their developmental journey, the more that helps families, the more it helps kids. Enough people know enough now that we buy into the power of early intervention. We just want to see this pilot go to the next stage. I've got no doubt that there's, well I know that interest, all around Australia in this.

JOURNALIST: Could this take some of the burden off the NDIS, some of that financial burden, by addressing this issue early in life?

SHORTEN: Most Australian press conferences have got politer in the last few years, but I just want to correct the use of the word burden. The National Disability Insurance Scheme, it's not a burden on the nation. It's changing lives for hundreds of thousands of Australians. What we've seen though, is the challenge for the National Disability Insurance Scheme to be not the only metaphorical lifeboat in the ocean. We want to create a more accessible and inclusive Australia, full stop.

Premier Cook and Prime Minister Albanese have really made progress on how do we build up disability services outside the Scheme. Under this government, the NDIS is here to stay, we want to make sure every dollar gets through to the people through the Scheme was designed. So that's just the sort of the broader thing about why don't think it's not a burden, the Scheme. This pilot measure though is not about saying kids should be on the NDIS or not. This is NDIS funding. What this is doing is saying, what works best for the kid? What works best for the family? See I think the sweet spot for the future the NDIS, dare I say it, the future disability in Australia, is we focus on the person.

If the best thing we can do is provide early intervention support for a child, then that's what we should do. Now I think that has flow on benefits, for the child, for the family, then for the state and then for the nation. But this is about the best interests of the child, the best interests of the family. But I think when we focus on that, then we can lower the growth trajectory of costs in the Scheme. Because all the parents want for their kids is the best start in life. We're all hardwired to think that way. We don't look at a child and say I want that child; I want my child to build the NDIS for the whole of their life. What you want is for your child to have the best possible life. If the NDIS can help contribute to that, then that's right. But if there's other ways of intervening early and identifying what needs to be done, then we should do that, too. So, I hope it wasn't too long winded, but that's the propositions about the child and the family. And then if we apply that test constantly in our policy decisions, then everything else works out, doesn't it?

JOURNALIST: Anthony Albanese, just on another issue –

SHORTEN: Any other questions on Inklings, just before we move onto any Commonwealth issues.

JOURNALIST: - he has ruled out negotiating with the Greens on the Shared Equity Scheme in exchange for changes on negative gearing. Given negative gearing is something you've tried to convince the Australian people to support changes to that you must have some sympathy for the Greens position.

SHORTEN: No, not really. we took negative gearing to the 2016 and 2019 elections. That's not our policy now. We believe in the build to rent scheme, which are good. I just say to the Greens, not everything's a political opportunity. Not everything is about getting a political free kick. We have a major issue around supply of housing in Australia. That's what we need to work on. And I just encourage the Greens to work with us about increasing supply. See, at the end of the day, if there's more supply of housing you can then start seeing the idea that people don't have to spend a fortune to get their first home. So, I think we're in the right space, and I'd encourage the Greens political party to not try and score 1% off Labor, but rather get on with what's in the best interests of people trying to get into the housing market.

JOURNALIST: Do you have any reaction to the Woolworths CEO’s train wreck interview on the ABC last night?

SHORTEN: The big food retailers, I think had been using the camouflage of inflation to price gouge. So, whether or not Mr. Banducci should have handled that interview better is one thing for me the issue of substance is, the two big food companies in my opinion have been taking advantage of Australian shoppers. And anyone who goes shopping on a regular basis will see that –they see the markdowns, but you know, we're not goldfish. We do remember the prices and we say well they've marked it down but actually they've increased the price then they've reduced it to pretend they're actually doing us a favour. So anyway, I think the ACCC work which the Treasurer Jim Chalmers has commissioned, we'll get to the bottom of it. At the end of the day, companies have got a right to make a profit, but in a time of cost-of-living crisis, it’s their customers who are what keep them in business. So perhaps they should think more about their customers. Thank you.