Disability Inclusion Bill

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (20:08): I rise to speak to the Disability Inclusion Bill 2018. I note we have had quite a few speakers from this side of the house as well as from the other side, and there seems to be quite a consensus to get this legislation through in good time, and for good reason—because we need to do whatever we can to support people living with a disability.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is currently being rolled out. Under the scheme the state government will no longer directly fund disability services. Instead, these services will be administered by the National Disability Insurance Agency, which will work directly with eligible participants to establish personalised plans based on their needs and goals, giving them choice and control over their own lives. Following the full implementation of the NDIS, the Disability Services Act 1993, which was designed to regulate services and provide funding mechanisms, will become redundant.

The Disability Inclusion Bill promotes the rights and inclusion of people living with a disability in South Australia. The bill establishes a high-level framework to ensure that a coordinated and consistent planning approach is taken across both state and local government and provides for greater equality and access to services and facilities. One of the key components of the bill is the requirement for the state government to develop a state disability inclusion plan, which will be reviewed once every four years and will require annual reports on its operation.

It also requires all state departments, statutory authorities and local councils to develop disability access and inclusion plans (DAIP). The disability access and inclusion plans must align with the six outcomes of the National Disability Strategy and adhere to those guidelines and regulations. Whilst many departments and a few local councils already have a DAIP, the bill prescribes that agencies produce an annual report from which a statewide summary will be presented to the minister. The plans can be updated at any time but must, at the very least, be reviewed and a report submitted once every four years.

The other key component of the bill is the establishment of an updated disability screening scheme, which will apply to service providers operating under the NDIS as per the national Quality and Safeguarding Framework. The details of what this entails will be outlined in the regulations, which will be dependent on the commonwealth and the NDIA. However, the state government has indicated that it will not accept any standard below what is prescribed for people working with children, which is obviously very serious.

Under the bill, any person working with a person living with a disability who does not hold a current screening check will face a maximum fine of $20,000 for the first or second offence and $50,000 or imprisonment for one year for third or subsequent offences. Furthermore, any person who has been deemed to be a prohibited person who is found working with a person living with a disability will face a maximum of $50,000 or one year's imprisonment. An employer who employs or continues to employ a prohibited person, as a natural person, will face a maximum of a $50,000 fine or one year's imprisonment or, as a body corporate, a maximum of a $120,000 fine.

The bill also has a provision for the establishment of a community visitor scheme, which is in part driven by the national Quality and Safeguarding Framework. The bill also provides for regulations to be made in relation to the transitioning to the NDIS. A review of the act must be undertaken and a report tabled after the third and before the fourth anniversary of the commencement of the act.

The Disability Inclusion Bill undertook an engagement process via YourSAy, with 67 people attending the public meetings and 19 written submissions being made. All people were supportive of the broad principles of the bill. The Local Government Association expressed concerns regarding adequate resources to produce the DAIPs. In response, DCSI have stated that they will provide templates and additional resources to local councils to assist, and they will give access to the disability policy unit for knowledge and information. Council areas, for example rural areas or small councils, will also be able to produce a joint DAIP with permission from the minister.

Certainly, we on this side of the house are supporting the legislation. We note support from the opposition, but we note that there were some amendments attempted in the other place, tabled by the Hon. Clare Scriven. The proposed amendments sought to create a disability advocate—

The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Point of order: there are no amendments before this house, and it was ruled earlier that discussion is not allowed on that.

The SPEAKER: On what, sorry? The point of order was for—

The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Amendments that were defeated in the upper house.

The SPEAKER: The point of order is for reference to debate in another place. Could the member please return to the second reading substance.

Mr PEDERICK: Thank you, Mr Speaker. In a general way, some people propose that there be a disability advocate and that the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment be required to take such steps as may be reasonably practicable to ensure that at least 3 per cent of the persons employed in the Public Service are people with a disability. A commitment was made by others to establish a disability advocate role, which was valued at $200,000, the idea of which was, in a general sense, to assist people living with a disability and their families to transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. There was a general idea of another $400,000 for community advocacy support.

On this side of the house, we support the bill as it is because it aims to promote the absolute human rights and improve the inclusion in the community for South Australians who live with a disability. There is significant change taking place right now, which we see right across the country, whether in the local government sector, state governments and, obviously, at the federal level where they are directing the scheme. Obviously, it filters down through the other two levels of government. In the main, it seems to be getting pretty good results across the way. Like anything, it can have its teething problems but, from what I understand, it opens up avenues for some people who may not have been able to access funding before.

I note that, initially, the federal government were going to increase the Medicare levy, but they realised they did not have to because they had built up enough surpluses in the Turnbull Liberal government to fund the scheme. I commend them for their budgetary measures and controls. The National Disability Insurance Scheme is absolutely transforming the way disability support is funded and delivered across Australia. As I was saying, it is in a period of transition from what has been a state-based system to a national scheme delivered by the commonwealth government. The NDIS represents major reform, and it heralds a new era in the provision of services and supports for people living with a disability.

The emphasis—and this is very serious—is on individual choice and control, so that people can have those individualised contracts, and carers, or the people themselves, can manage the money in the appropriate way for whatever services the person living with a disability may need. I think it will give the right outcome, and that is certainly the aim of it for everyone living with a disability.

We were one of the first jurisdictions to sign up to the NDIS, and we will also be one of the first jurisdictions to reach full implementation with the scheme from mid next year. In the context of these major reforms, the Disability Inclusion Bill seeks to clarify South Australia's role in supporting people with a disability. It sets out the state government's future direction, which for very good reasons is focused on rights and inclusion in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the National Disability Strategy.

As stated before, at the state level previously the state government was responsible for funding providers to deliver services to people with a disability. In 1993, the Disability Services Act was created for that very purpose. It is therefore a service-oriented act, established to administer funding and regulate the state disability services sector. While services are in transition, the South Australian government is progressively handing over responsibility for disability services and support to the commonwealth government and the National Disability Insurance Agency.

Once the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme is fully realised, the Disability Services Act 1993 will not be required because the state government will no longer directly fund the services. Instead, the NDIA will work with eligible individuals to create a personal budget, as I indicated before, to pay for their chosen services and supports. That could involve gym sessions, physiotherapy and a whole range of other supports that may be needed on an individual basis.

We know that there is more to living a fulfilling life than simply being able to access disability services and supports. People living with a disability also have a right to be included in all other aspects of the community on an equal basis with other citizens. Inclusion covers ordinary things that a lot of people will take for granted, things as simple as using public transport, attending community events, getting out to do a bit of shopping, having a social day out at the football, or participating in educational activities or specific training, for instance.

The scheme also means broader access to community and mainstream services and opportunities that without dedicated planning and action are not always easily available to people with disability, due to various factors like attitudinal and physical barriers. This is what the Disability Inclusion Bill is all about. It is enhancing inclusion and removing these barriers. They are the focus of this legislation.

As part of the NDIS, these challenges were recognised, and this was Australia's response to the ratification of the UNCRPD. The state government will have a role in the future in implementing the aims of the NDIS and the UNCRPD once the NDIS is fully rolled out. The principles and vision of these landmark documents set the policy foundation for the Disability Inclusion Bill. The bill is underpinned by a range of rights-based principles that reflect the tone of the UNCRPD and the NDIS.

These principles are based on a recognition that, whilst people with disability have the same fundamental human rights as others, they often feel undervalued as citizens and experience difficulty finding a place in the wider community. That is why this bill, with these principles, will give visibility to the issues faced by people with a disability. The overall purpose of the bill is to ensure that these issues are considered and the views of people with disability are incorporated into policies and programs that affect them.

Also, the legislation is there to articulate a range of rights specific to certain groups who, it is generally accepted, face additional challenges and vulnerabilities. This includes women with disability, children with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability. These principles will be brought to life through disability inclusion planning, another key feature of the bill.

Obviously, the long-term vision is that we achieve an inclusive society, and it will take some consistent effort over time to achieve that goal. The legislation, through this bill, supports this by ensuring that appropriate planning takes place in a coordinated manner across both state and local government. This planning will then underpin a more inclusive community, which provides a quality of access to mainstream services and facilities for people with disability in line with the six outcome areas of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Every four years, a state disability inclusion plan will be developed under the bill and, as I mentioned before, there is the requirement for state government departments, statutory authorities and local councils to develop and implement a disability access and inclusion plan. The statutory authorities required to do this will be prescribed through regulations at a later stage once the legislation has passed both houses, and this will obviously be done in consultation with affected organisations.

The state disability inclusion plan will be the overarching framework, and it will set the state government's disability inclusion agenda and provide guidance to agencies for developing disability access and inclusion plans. There is a lot of work to do. I wish the bill a speedy passage through this place so that we can get the work done on the ground to make life a whole lot better for people living with disability and let them have the inclusive rights that they deserve.

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