IAN KIRKWOOD: NDIS debate rages on 

JOHN Ryan, a former NSW MP who is now a state public servant involved with disability services, referred to my coverage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme on Twitter last week, saying: ‘‘Looks like you’ll never agree to NDIS, but can I at least convince you that we can do so much better than Stockton?’’

My response, over a series of tweets, was that it wasn’t me he needed to convince. If the government answered the concerns of those involved, he would never hear from me again.

The NDIS laws were passed last week in State Parliament, and I urge anyone interested to read the full debate in Hansard.

In the meantime, here’s a selection of excerpts. 

Tim Owen, Newcastle, Liberal: ‘‘It is unfortunate that a scare campaign has been whipped up saying that everybody has to move and the [Stockton] centre will close by 2018, etc.

‘‘Certainly the current facilities will be redeveloped by 2018, but there has been no articulation from this government that the centre will close. I just want to make that point very clear for the people of Newcastle. To the residents of the Stockton Centre, and their families and carers, I say: We are going to work closely with you and we are going to deliver for you what you want. There will be a huge amount of money available for these people, the most vulnerable in our society, to have control of and choice for their future. I think that is a wonderful thing.’’

Clayton Barr, Cessnock, Labor: ‘‘I have had many discussions and briefings and undertaken a lot of background reading but I still do not understand how the Stockton Centre redevelopment will be paid for. As I understand it, there is no bucket of money available for infrastructure. The NDIS money is attached to the clients, who are the people with disabilities. We may talk about redeveloping the Stockton Centre but I am not sure where the dollars will come from and I would appreciate an explanation from the minister in his speech in reply.

‘‘My understanding of how infrastructure redevelopment would work under the scheme is that if 150 clients were based at Stockton and ...  it were necessary to spend $15million or $20million the clients might be asked to contribute $10,000 or $15,000 each from their funding. It is my understanding that there is no money for infrastructure. The funding provided through the scheme is personal money that belongs to each client. I would like the minister to clarify this matter in his reply.’’

Andrew Constance, Bega, Liberal: ‘‘The redevelopment of Westmead and Rydalmere incorporated three models of care relating to age, medical-based needs and challenging behaviours. The decision on those three models of care was made upfront. Following that decision, the process of engagement and individual consultation resulted in important changes, and now many residents from Westmead and Rydalmere cannot wait for their new homes to be built. I believe that will be the case with the Stockton Centre, but we are not at that point.’’ 

Sonia Hornery, Wallsend, Labor: ‘‘I have had a lot of involvement with workers, clients and their families. The No.1 message I hear over and again is that people are afraid. They feel that the government is railroading them; they are not being heard. Enough politicians have had their say on this matter; we need to hear more from those whom this bill will affect.’’

Greg Piper, Lake Macquarie, Independent: ‘‘Despite all the talk about consultation, the first that many people knew of the government’s decision to phase out public sector residential care by 2018 was when they read about it in the Newcastle Herald on 16 October.

‘‘We cannot allow people with high-care needs to be ‘auctioned off’ to private providers. I know the minister does not like the term ‘privatisation’, but it cannot be dispensed with.’’

 And how is the NDIS going? The federal government said last week that costs in Newcastle and three other trial sites were already 30per cent higher than predicted.  

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