In the Media

Kelly Vincent – Vision Australia Interview on NDIS and Disability Employment

26On 26th August 2015, Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent was interviewed on Vision Australia radio station to discuss concerns around the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the need to get the employment of people with disabilities working alongside the NDIS. Here is the audio and transcript from the interview.

Pam Green: Time now to welcome to 5RPH, Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent. Hi Kelly.

Kelly Vincent: Hi Pam.

Pam Green: Well Senator Mitch Fifield as the Minister for Disability Services has been discussing the NDIS a great deal in the media in the past week. What’s all the controversy about?

Kelly Vincent: Well there has been significant concerns raised around federal budget cuts as well as the government discussion happening about tax reforms and bilateral agreements on the NDIS currently being negotiated between the State and Territory Governments and the Commonwealth Government. Given Pam that we’re more than two years through the three year pilot scheme, everyone is of course understandably getting anxious to know how the continued roll out of the NDIS will operate from July 1, 2016 that is to say next year. And it is of course important that governments provide some clarity to the disability community. Everyone needs to continue committing the funds, the resources, the goodwill and the support to ensure the success of the scheme to make sure that people do get the supports and resources they need to continue to lead fulfilling lives.

Pam Green: Why is it so important the NDIS be rolled out by 2019. Wouldn’t it be more important to get it right even if it does take a bit longer?

Kelly Vincent: Well Pam I think we can do both and I do know that people with disabilities and our family carers have faced decades of underfunding and under resourcing, with having to fight to get every measly dollar of support that they receive. People have had to accept what they’re given, and often they’re too scared to advocate for better or more services in fear of what they already have may be removed. So the provision of services has been fragmented and disorganised which further compounds some of the challenges people face. So the fact that we have NDIS is in itself a good thing and generally so far it has been participant focused and most people are happy with their support and their plans that they are receiving statistically. To suggest that it will take any longer than the further four years for it to be rolled out is ridiculous though. In South Australia and some other sites the National Disability Service Agency has been operating for more than two years. There have already been significant learnings from these trials and they are enabling improvements. So the fact is I think we need to use those learnings, use that information and just get on with the job in giving people the support they need for the lives that they choose.

Pam Green: Last week you were the opening speaker at the Disability Employment Australia Conference in Sydney. What did you hear there about the intersection between the NDIS and disability employment programs?

Kelly Vincent: It was an interesting conference Pam. There’s been very little about employment in the plans implemented so far under the NDIS. And sure in South Australia that has to do with currently only newborn to 13 year olds are currently covered by the National Disability Insurance Scheme, so of course employment isn’t necessarily going to be a relevant part of their current plans. But in other trial sites such as in New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT I understand there hasn’t been much consideration about getting the employment of people with disabilities working alongside the NDIS. At the conference last week I heard that nationwide less than 5% of plans under the NDIS have a specific goal in them to do with employment for the person with disability. While it seems to be getting on everyone’s radar slowly, there’s still a lot more work to be done about how to figure this out. And I think that includes making sure that we make the mainstream work force more accessible to people with disabilities.

Pam Green: And lastly Kelly, what are the most critical issues here in South Australia with the NDIS?

Kelly Vincent: Well there are certainly a lot of them. I think one of the most critical is of course that the demand for services is greatly outweighing the services that are available for children and young people here in South Australia. Initially the state government thought 5,000, 0-14 year olds would be eligible for a NDIS plan under the pilot of the scheme. But now it appears there are actually some 10,000 who meet the criteria for supports and early investments. So while we’re up to date on the number of plans if there are only 5,000 eligible, we are very much behind on the actual figure of 10,000 people who are eligible. So yet again we need the federal and state governments to sit down together and work together constructively to find the funding to provide more plans, more assistance, more services, but also to employ more planners within the National Disability Insurance Agency to make sure people are getting the support they need to a plan in place in the first place.

Pam Green: Thank so much for your time today Kelly.

Kelly Vincent: Pleasure Pam, Thank you.

Pam Green: Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent