01 November 2012
Andrew asks the Prime Minister to improve support for people with disabilities.
Mr WILKIE (Denison) (14:27): My question is to the Prime Minister. To be eligible for Better Start, a child must have an eligible diagnosis. But this leaves children like five-year-old Lachlan from my electorate ineligible, even though he cannot walk or talk properly and needs therapy similar to that offered to children with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy or autism, who do qualify. PM, the NDIS is great but no use to Lachlan right now. Please, can Better Start be extended to little Lachlan immediately?
Ms GILLARD (Lalor—Prime Minister) (14:27): I thank the member for Denison for his question on what is an important issue—an important issue for his constituent Lachlan and also an important issue for people right around the country. I know there are so many Australians who find it so difficult now, with our current system of supports and services, to get the care their families need. One of the reasons we have embarked on creating a National Disability Insurance Scheme is that we do understand that the way in which services are provided now is too fragmented and that there is not a common approach, so people in comparable circumstances do not get the same degree of support.
We have been working to improve circumstances for people with a disability, and our Better Start for Children with Disability program was part of that extension of support. It is an early-intervention initiative that we will extend further next year. Better Start does relate to eligible conditions, as the member for Denison has said, and I do understand that there are still children like Lachlan who are not eligible for the Better Start program. For Lachlan and for families around the country, we will continue to improve disability services as we can. But the real outcome we are seeking for them is the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
I am happy, of course, to maintain contact with the member for Denison about the specific circumstances of this family. And I know that he will be working with the government because I know he too is very concerned about disability services and wants us to work together to ensure for people around the nation and in his electorate that we see an NDIS.