Question without notice: Disability Housing

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — My question is to the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing. Minister, last week members of the Health and Community Services Union rallied at Parliament to oppose the privatisation of disability group homes. At the last election Labor promised it would not privatise public disability services. Can you explain to union members, to disability service users, to their families and even to the members for Brunswick and Ivanhoe, who were at the rally, why you are breaking this promise?

 

Mr FOLEY (Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing) — I thank the honourable member for his question. The national disability insurance scheme (NDIS), a Labor project from start to finish, is the greatest social reform this country has seen since the introduction of Medicare. It turns on its head the whole system of rationed and dysfunctional specialist disability services and puts at its heart the needs and aspirations of people with a disability. It will see, in Victoria alone, specialist disability services levels rise from a current 70 000-plus Victorians to over 105 000 Victorians. In that context, the less than 2.5 per cent of people in that system who are under the care of the Victorian government in our specialist disability houses are at the forefront of our concerns. Those people have been subject to this congregate care model which has proven to be problematic at best, despite the level of care offered by our healthcare and disability professionals, because the model does not suit their interests appropriately.

As we have seen in the rollout in the Barwon trial, when given the opportunity to make real choice and control, those people who live in congregate care houses — of which the Victorian government provides a minority, by the way; most are provided by not-for-profit, community-based organisations — make the same kinds of choices that any one of us would make. They want to live in the community just like everyone else, and that is what the national disability insurance scheme is about. Our industrial partners know that.

Labor is committed to delivering this project from start to finish. We will deliver it from start to finish, and we will make sure that the shameful record of abuse and human rights disadvantages and breaches that we have seen for people with disability are a thing of the past. It is time that we put people with disability at the centre of our system of concerns. The national disability insurance scheme, as a whole, is about delivering that — —

Ms Ryall — On a point of order, Speaker, on the subject of putting people with a disability front and centre, why then did the minister shelve the social inclusion report into people with a disability?

The SPEAKER — Order! There is no point of order.

Mr FOLEY — In terms of the national disability insurance scheme and the less than 2.5 per cent of people in the state's direct control through those disability houses that are part of the rollout, we will make sure that those people are at the centre of our response. We will make sure that we land an agreement with our staff, with their carers and with their families that makes sure that they are looked after, because the national disability insurance scheme is a reform that this country has well and truly passed its date to make happen.

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — On a supplementary question, Minister, you have mentioned choice. Minister, are you prepared to give a commitment — a guarantee — that any resident, their family or guardian who chooses to remain in a public disability group home will still be able to do so?

Mr FOLEY (Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing) — I am happy to have the member for Prahran briefed on what the national disability insurance scheme is all about, because his question fundamentally fails to understand that we are moving from a blocked, rationed scheme that when the money runs out, the services run out — that is the problem — to a system whereby, if you are eligible, you come into the scheme and you are funded. The department does not fund the organisation that provides the service. We do not provide the funding that delivers it to the non-government organisation. The individual is funded. That individual chooses through their plan the kinds of services that they believe are appropriate for their circumstances.

Having said that, there are numerous bumps along the road that we need to iron out with our federal government colleagues to make sure that the promise of the NDIS is delivered. But at its core is that insurance, client-driven model, and on that basis the guarantee is that the national disability insurance scheme will be delivered in full to all of those — —