Commit funds to NDIS Now!

The NSW Greens spokesperson for Disability Services,  Jan Barham is calling on the Premier and the State Government to commit the necessary funding to enable the full implementation of a trial in New South Wales of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

 

The call comes after the Prime Minister announced on Wednesday that an agreement to implement trials of the scheme had been reached with Tasmania, South Australia and the A.C.T but that the NSW State Government had failed to commit the funds necessary to implement the trial proposed for the Hunter region.

 

“The NSW Government should not be playing politics with some of the state’s most vulnerable people” said Jan Barham. “The NDIS trial is essential for NSW to identify the practical issues for implementation”.

 

“The NDIS is a ground breaking process for people with disabilities that will provide self determination and dignity for those people and their families”

 

The proposed trial in NSW would have meant that 10,000 individuals in the Hunter region would have been involved and benefited. But its implementation would require the NSW government to provide $70million in funding over three years – money that Premier Barry O’Farrell says should be coming from the Commonwealth government. Jan Barham says the NDIS should be a top priority and the money should be allocated.

 

“It’s a great disappointment that the prioritising of funds for this important project are not being made available” said Jan Barham. “NSW will suffer if there isn’t a trial and people with disabilities are right to be disappointed. The recognition of the rights of people with a disability is long overdue and by not progressing the NDIS, this disadvantage is continuing rather than being resolved.”

 

“Both the State and Commonwealth Governments have indicated a willingness to keep negotiating and I strongly encourage them to do so in a spirit of cooperation and good will to secure an improved living standard for people with a disability in NSW because every Australian counts”.

 

NDIS Website: www.everyauthraliancounts.com.au
 

Productivity Commission Report into Disability Care and Support (August 10th 2011):
http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/disability-support/report/

 

Jan’s Speeches in Parliament on the NDIS:
(1)   August 23rd 2011 : http://parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LC20110823043?open&refNavID=HA8_1

(2)   May 3rd 2012: http://parliament.nsw.gov.au/Prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LC20120503016?open&refNavID=HA8_1

 

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0407 065 061

Hearing Services for young people

Extended eligibility for Australian Hearing Services – from 1 January 2012, young Australians with a hearing impairment will be eligible for services from Australian Hearing until the age of 26, extending the previous cut-off age of 21. Australian Hearing has released a new website for young people to help them reconnect with their services – www.ahyoungadults.com.au/

AGEING, DISABILITY SERVICES—THE QUALITY AND SAFETY FRAMEWORK AND THE QUALITY ASSURANCE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM QoN

Ms Barham to the Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra representing the Minister for Ageing, and Minister for Disability Services—

    1. What are the functions and processes of the Quality and Safety Framework (QSF) and the Quality Assurance Improvement Program (QAIP) within the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care?
    2. What type of data do the programs collect?
    3. How is the data managed?
    1. Do these programs generate reports on the data collected?
    2. If so,
      1. How often are these reports generated?
      2. Which officers in the Department are provided with reports generated from data collected as part of these programs?
    1. Do the programs make recommendations to improve services based upon data collection and analysis?
    2. If so, will the Minister provide the details of any recommendations made by the QSF and the QAIP?

 

Answer—

  1.  
    1. The Quality Assurance and Improvement Program (QAIP) is a collection of processes that monitors quality and identifies areas for improvement in Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) operated accommodation support and centre-based respite services. 
      The Quality and Safety Framework (QSF) is a component of the QAIP. It is a monitoring tool used to measure compliance with key policy and procedures. The QSF is completed quarterly.
    2. The QSF comprises 24 Key Performance Indicators, to monitor the development and review of client care plans, levels of incident reporting, completion of health and safety inspections and levels of staff and service usage. Other data that informs quality improvement areas include feedback from clients and families, Ombudsman reports and investigations, Community Visitor reports and internal audits.
    3. For the QSF, at the unit level (group home, centre based respite and large residential units) data is collected on a quarterly basis and reported both regionally and centrally. Other data collected as part of the QAIP is stored in a number of corporate record management and information systems.
  2.  
    1. The unit level data is collated into a regional report. Regional results are aggregated into a state-wide report that is reported to the agency’s Audit and Risk Committee. In addition, a regular report is submitted to the ADHC Executive regarding the operation of ADHC operated accommodation support and centre based respite services.
    2.  
      1. The regional and state wide reports are generated on a quarterly basis. Reports to the Audit and Risk Committee occur quarterly or as required and the reports to the Operational Performance Committee (OPC) occur on an annual basis or as required.
      2. Regional Directors receive reports relating to quality in the services in their region. Regional Improvement Teams have carriage of action plans for quality improvement. The ADHC Executive (Chief Executive and Deputy Directors-General) receive regular reports through the Audit and Risk Committee and the OPC.
  3.  
    1. Results from the QAIP, including QSF, are used to inform service delivery improvement and reform, including training and management of client support plans, and improvements to policies and procedures.
    2. The tools are not used to make recommendations rather each region uses results to inform local action plans. Current state-wide areas for improvement in ADHC operated accommodation services include implementation of the Lifestyle Planning Policy and Guidelines and the commencement of a review of all health-related policies and procedures.

Disability Services

Most institutions and government bodies loathe complaints. Many interpret complaints as a personal affront and attack on their integrity. We do not have a strong government culture of managing complaints. Departments and government agencies perceive complaints as a political wrecking ball leveraged to bring into question the competence of departments. Complaints and compliance regimes are not perceived as opportunities to discover deficiencies in services and avenues to continually improve government services.

Disability service is an area where the response to complaints can make or break a person’s human rights in a most profound way. Deficiencies in service provision transform into barriers that prevent social inclusion and community participation. It denies the right of people with disabilities to achieve their full potential and live fulfilling lives. With the stakes so high we cannot afford to have anything less than a world-class complaints and compliance framework to drive service improvements in the disability sector. It is evident from the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Social Issues inquiry that there is a noticeable level of dissatisfaction with Ageing, Disability and Home Care [ADHC] services.

The causes of dissatisfaction are complex and varied. Deficiency in funding causing unmet and undermet need, poor management and governance systems in Ageing, Disability and Home Care and inflexibility in service programs to deliver person-centred service are some of the root causes of dissatisfaction with the organisation. In other instances there are systemic issues in compliance with disability service standards. The Legislative Council Standing Committee on Social Issues considered the issue of complaints and compliance mechanisms in the inquiry into services funded and provided by Ageing, Disability and Home Care. The committee made three key recommendations relating to complaints, complaints monitoring and advocacy services: recommendation 46, Review of Ageing, Disability and Home Care complaints process; recommendation 47, establishment of an independent organisation to review complaints and compliance; and recommendation 48, funding of advocacy services outside of Ageing, Disability and Home Care services.

When one looks at the framework for complaints and compliance monitoring for disability services one sees that we have a fractured and inconsistent system without sufficient transparency and accountability measures. Improving and resolving breaches of policies in disability services based upon user feedback and complaints becomes fraught without a consistent complaints mechanism. Our current system of complaints and compliance in the disability sector is a maze that leaves those trying to navigate it disempowered and disheartened. The different complaint processes, reporting regimes and management obligations for Ageing, Disability and Home Care service providers and non-government service creates confusion that will only intensify with more flexible service provision. Isolation in data collection arising from the different complaint mechanisms means obtaining a full picture of deficiencies in service delivery is not attainable.

Understanding the broader picture of grievances and compliance in the disability sector is further complicated by the reporting of complaints by the Ombudsman and issues picked up by the Official Community Visitor Programs. Ability to seek judicial review of the provision of disability services in the Administrative Decisions Tribunal is far too constrained by section 20 of the Disability Services Act, leaving people with disabilities, their families and carers, and disability advocates without appropriate recourse to challenge decisions about disability services. There are some really simple options for improving complaints management. The first thing we need is to centralise complaint data.

The Disability Services Act and the Community Services (Complaints, Reviews and Monitoring) Act can be easily amended to require all non-government organisation providers and Ageing, Disability and Home Care services to forward all complaint data, excluding personal information, to the New South Wales Ombudsman. This way we can get the whole sector-wide picture of potential service deficiencies. I understand the Victorian Ombudsman operates in this way. Seeing the big picture in complaints will help address systemic problems. In terms of actual complaints management bodies it is clear that some complaints cannot be left up to the service provider. Some complaints are serious enough to warrant independent assessment and investigation. Maybe we need to investigate whether a model similar to the New Zealand Health and Disability Commissioner would be appropriate to manage complaints about disability services. It is clear we need to explore these options through a consultative process.

As The Greens spokesperson for disability services I believe we need a better compliance and complaint system. Without appropriate mechanisms we deny people with disabilities a voice in shaping the services that enable participation in society, personal development and social inclusion. We all remain in the dark about where our service system is failing without a coherent and robust system. Over the coming months I am meeting with people with disabilities, carers, disability advocates, service providers and people with experience in complaint systems. I am committed to working with stakeholders to find a better way to manage complaints and compliance in the disability sector so New South Wales can learn from its mistakes and start building innovative and compassionate disability services.

Younger people in residential aged care program QoN

Question

14th June 2011

YOUNGER PEOPLE IN RESIDENTIAL AGED CARE PROGRAM
The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Disability Services. With the funding stream for the Younger People in Residential Aged Care Program due to expire in July this year, what arrangements have been made with the Commonwealth Government to ensure the improvement and continuation of this program? Will the Minister maintain or increase the jointly funded $81.2 million commitment of the first five years of the program during the continuation of the program?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank the member for another timely question. I will refer it to the Minister and provide her with an answer in due course.

Answer

2nd August 2011

YOUNGER PEOPLE IN RESIDENTIAL AGED CARE PROGRAM

On 14 June 2011 the Hon. Jan Barham asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Disability Services, a question without notice regarding younger people in residential aged care program. The Minister for Disability Services provided the following response:

The NSW Government is committed to supporting younger people with a disability in, or at risk of entering residential aged care and delivery against the performance benchmark under the National Disability Agreement.

NSW has jointly funded the YPIRAC Program with the Australian Government. The NSW and Australian Governments have each provided a total of $40.6 million over the last five years. Funding of over $25.3 million per annum ($12.6 million from each Government) has now been rolled into the National Disability Agreement funding base and will continue to be used to support younger people with a disability in, or at risk of entering residential aged care.

In April 2011, Disability Services Ministers discussed the future of the YPIRAC Program and agreed that the setting of any new program targets requires joint commitment to additional funding. The Australian Government has not agreed to any additional commitment at this time.

However, we also agreed that good outcomes for this target group cannot be delivered solely by specialist disability services. Disability Officials have been charged with developing an Action Plan that identifies future policy directions to achieve better pathways for younger people in residential aged care in conjunction with other mainstream service systems.

I am committed to working with State and Territory Disability Ministers and the Australian Government and engaging with other portfolio ministers to achieve better outcomes for this group of people.

 

 

 

 

 

Disability Access QWN

Question

17th June 2011

DISABILITY ACCESS

 
The Hon. JAN BARHAM: I direct my question to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure. The Disability (Access to Premises—Buildings) Standards and accompanying changes to the Building Code of Australia commenced on 1 May 2011, giving greater emphasis to universal design principles. To support these reforms, an Access Advisory Committee has been established to assess applications for exemptions from the standards, based on unjustifiable hardship. Will the Minister advise whether any Commonwealth or New South Wales disability advocacy organisations have representation on that committee? If not, why not? Will the Minister advise how many applications for exemptions from the standards have been sought from the Access Advisory Committee and whether the exemption process will be mandatory?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank the Hon. Jan Barham for her very interesting question. I will be interested to obtain an answer from the Minister and provide it as soon as possible. 

Answer

2nd August 2011

DISABILITY ACCESS

On 17 June 2011 the Hon. Jan Barham asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, a question without notice regarding disability access. The Minister for Planning and Infrastructure provided the following response:

• The Access Advisory Committee under the NSW Building Professionals Board has been established in accordance with the recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Australian Building Codes Board.

• Experts in a range of fields were sought to assist in the Committee’s functions, including the fields of disability access, building code compliance, quantity surveying and heritage conservation.

• These experts have associations with a range of professional bodies including the NSW Network of Access Consultants, the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, Australian Institute of Building Surveyors, and the Heritage Council.

• Whilst the Committee contains significant expertise in disability access matters it does not comprise persons advocating positions on behalf of disability organisations as the task of the Committee is to provide assessments against the technical standards contained in the Disability Standards and the Building Code of Australia.

• As at 21 June 2011 no applications have been received for consideration by the Committee.

• Initially, referral of matters involving unjustifiable hardship will be voluntary. Should proposed changes be made to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, referral of all matters involving unjustifiable hardship to the Committee will be mandatory.

 

COMPLAINTS UNDER THE COMMUNITY SERVICES (COMPLAINTS, REVIEW AND MONITORING) ACT 1993 QoN

Ms Barham to the Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra representing the Minister for Ageing, and Minister for Disability Services—

  1. How many people or service providers have been found guilty of an offence under Section 47 of the Community Services (Complaints, Review and Monitoring) Act 1993?
  2. What action has Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC), under the Department of Family and Community Services, taken to make clients of ADHC and non-government service providers aware of their right to be free from threats of retribution?
    1. Has ADHC through its internal complaints handling mechanism received allegations of threats of retaliation?
    2. If so, what course of action is ADHC required to take?

 

Answer—

  1. Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) is not aware of any people or service providers who have been found guilty of an offence under Section 47 of the Community Services (Complaints, Review and Monitoring) Act 1993.
  2. ADHC’s current Feedback and Complaint Handling Principles and Guidelines (2005) indicates that “all parties to a complaint should have the opportunity to have his or her say, without fear of a negative reaction or victimisation”. 
    In addition, ADHC’s publication, ‘Standards in Action – Practice requirements and Guidelines for services funded under the Disability Service Act’ provides in its minimum practice requirements a similar standard for practice. 
    ADHC’s revised Community Complaints Policy will strengthen the principles regarding threats and retribution such that: 
    “ADHC will treat complainants with respect and will ensure that complainants (and other parties to the complaint) are not subject to harassment or discrimination, are free from threats of retribution or disadvantaged as a result of having made a complaint.” 
    The policy statement and principles will be included on the complaints section of ADHC’s internet site, within revised brochures for clients, non–government service providers and other stakeholders. A communication strategy will be developed to promulgate the revised policy in the second half of 2011.
  3.  
    1. No
    2. Allegations of threats of retaliation would be treated as a breach of policy ⁄ Code of Conduct under Chapter 9 of the ‘Public Sector Employment and Management Act’ 2002 and action would be taken in accordance with ADHC’s processes for dealing with these matters. In addition if may be referred to the Law and Justice Directorate for prosecutorial consideration as an offence under the Act.

BOARDING HOUSE REFORM PROGRAM OFFICERS

Ms Barham to the Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra representing the Minister for Ageing, and Minister for Disability Services—

  1. Are the Department of Family and Community Services’ Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) Boarding House Reform Program Case Managers and Licensing Officers separated?
  2. Are there clear protocols established for referrals to be made between Boarding House Reform Program Case Managers and Licensing Officers?
    1. Has ADHC implemented all recommendations of the NSW Ombudsman outlined in ‘DADHC Monitoring Standards in Boarding Houses. A special report to Parliament under s31 of the Ombudsman Act’?
    2. If not:
      1. Which recommendations has ADHC not implemented?
      2. What is the reason for ADHC not implementing the NSW Ombudsman’s recommendations?

 

Answer—

  1. AHDC Regions allocate resources according to local priorities and circumstances. Where the roles have been combined and performed by the same officers, this has been to allow for a flexible approach to situations such as boarding house closures. It also takes into account that licensing issues can have an effect on the well-being of the resident, and at times there can be an overlap between the two functions.
  2. Where different officers perform the licensing and casework functions they are still part of the same team and report to the same manager, and frequently work together. Whether the roles are separated or combined, in each region serious issues of non-compliance with the Regulation or Licence Conditions are escalated to management for resolution.
  3.  
    1. The Ombudsman’s Report made a number of findings as opposed to specific recommendations. All of these findings have been addressed, specifically:
      • The 2005 Regulation under the Youth and Community Services Act 1973 (YACS Act) was amended in May 2010, and remade in September as the 2010 Regulation, with new provisions including requirements for one staff member on duty to have a first aid certificate, and for safe medication administration and record keeping. The Regulation has clarified the obligations of proprietors. Further reform of the boarding house sector, including boarding houses not currently licensed under the YACS Act, is currently under consideration.
      • Licensed boarding houses are monitored on a six to eight weekly basis and Full Service Reviews of each premises occur once every three years. Ageing, Disability and Home Care’s (ADHC) Central Office monitors data from regions regarding this.
      • Caseworkers specifically for licensed boarding houses are employed to plan and co-ordinate services for residents.
      • Training for regional staff involved in licensed boarding houses occurred in November 2009 and June 2011. Formal training did not occur in 2010 as the focus was on revising the Regulation as well as updating and revising the relevant policies and procedures to support that. In addition to formal training, quarterly meetings occur between the relevant ADHC Central Office policy team and regional staff involved in licensed boarding houses.
      • The Licensing and Monitoring Policy was revised and updated in April 2011 and is available on the ADHC website with a range of supplementary documentation.
    2. See answer to 3 (a) – all findings have been addressed.

YOUNGER PEOPLE IN RESIDENTIAL AGED CARE PROGRAM

Ms Barham to the Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra representing the Minister for Ageing, and Minister for Disability Services—

  1. How many people under fifty years of age are permanently living in a residential aged care facility in New South Wales?
  2. How many people under fifty years of age living in a residential aged care facility have been transferred to more appropriate accommodation under the Younger People in Residential Aged Care Program?
  3. How many young people with a disability have been diverted from entering a residential aged care facility under the Younger People in Residential Aged Care Program?

 

Answer—

  1. According to Australian Government data as at April 2011, there were 283 people aged under 50 years permanently living in a residential aged care facility in New South Wales.
  2. A total of 119 people aged under fifty years living in residential aged care facilities will be transferred to more appropriate accommodation under the NSW Younger People in Residential Aged Care Program. As at 8 June 2011:
    • 46 people aged under fifty have been supported to transfer from a residential aged care facility back into their homes or into supported accommodation under the Program;
    • an additional 40 people are in the process of transitioning out of a residential aged care facility and into the community; and
    • transition arrangements for an additional 33 people are currently being finalised.
  3. As at 8 June 2011, 113 younger people with a disability have been diverted from entering a residential aged care facility under the NSW Younger People in Residential Aged Care Program.

Standing Committee on Social Issues Report

Report: Inquiry into Services Provided or funded by the Department of Ageing,
Disability and Home Care
The Hon. JAN BARHAM [5.10 p.m.]: I move:
  •  
      That this House take note of report No. 44 of the Standing Committee on Social Issues entitled “Inquiry into services provided or funded by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care”, dated November 2010.

I make a contribution to debate on the Standing Committee on Social Issues inquiry into services provided or funded by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care. I commence by acknowledging the House for supporting the referral to this committee. All parties—Labor, Liberal, The Greens, the Shooters and Fishers, and the Christian Democratic Party—saw the value of the social issues committee undertaking this inquiry. It will be an invaluable body of work as this Parliament moves forward in considering how to greatly improve disability services. I acknowledge the work of the members who sat on the committee and I note that the committee unanimously supported the report. Committee members were the Hon. Ian West, the Hon. Trevor Khan, the Hon. Greg Donnelly, the Hon. Marie Ficarra, the Hon. Helen Westwood and Dr John Kaye. I also acknowledge the committee secretariat, which has done an exceptional job in delivering this important report. I applaud the many families and people with disabilities who made submissions to the inquiry.

Sometimes users of Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care funded and provided services face further difficulties in accessing services when they raise concerns or make complaints. In the face of such fears, many still came before the committee to tell their stories—often very personal and difficult stories to share with strangers, let alone parliamentary committees. This was a very important inquiry to New South Wales and it was long overdue. The inquiry represented a broad examination of ageing and disability services in New South Wales. The inquiry was particularly pertinent, given the investigation by the Productivity Commission into disability care and support, and the potential architecture of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

In New South Wales we have an opportunity to overhaul the delivery of disability services. We have a chance to ensure a greater number of people have improved access to services that enable them to live their lives more fully. This will require months and months of consultation, political and personal vision, and a commitment to acknowledge that there is no silver bullet, just people with diverse needs who want a chance to be a part of society. We must have robust debate and honesty about our priorities in New South Wales. The inquiry was in part a response to the deficiencies in our disability service. While there has been great improvement in the first five years of Stronger Together, and the funding commitment for Stronger Together II will build on this improvement, there are still holes in our crisis-driven system. Unmet and undermet need, lack of person-centred service delivery, gaps in planning and service evaluation, asymmetry in regional service delivery, and deficiencies in complaints and compliance management are all characteristic of elements in our disability services.

The 55 recommendations of this inquiry traverse a wide range of areas within disability services. While time does not permit a full discussion of each recommendation, I wish to discuss a few key themes in the report. As I have already placed on record my thoughts on complaints and grievance handling and compliance, I will not cover those aspects of the report. Recommendation 1 cuts to the very core of identifying, acknowledging and managing unmet and undermet need. I strongly support amending the Disability Services Act 1993 to require the biannual disclosure of data on unmet and undermet need and the conducting of service user and carer surveys every three years.

Our communities want a clear picture on whether people are having basic human rights fulfilled, rather than having to wade through oblique department doublespeak and bureaucratic mazes. We need honesty and transparency about the level of unmet and undermet need to encourage prioritisation of disability services and fulfilment of human rights. I am encouraged by the work of the department and the Minister in taking the first steps towards gathering this data, and I look forward to the New South Wales Parliament starting a dialogue on how individuals and families can get the most out of the underinvestment in disability and ageing services.

Stronger Together has in part addressed the gross underinvestment in disability and ageing services. It has started to bridge the gulf between borderline neglect at one end of the service picture and service delivery enabling full social inclusion and real livelihoods. However, where we fall on that spectrum is a matter of debate. The Executive Officer of the Disability Council of New South Wales notes that things have improved but “we still have an awful long way to go”. Ms Christine Regan, Senior Policy Officer with the Council of Social Service of New South Wales, pointed out to the committee that a doubling of the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care budget only created a 19 per cent increase in the number of people using disability supported accommodation.

There remains a strong consensus in the sector, from the Director General of the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care and peak organisations down to small specialist non-government organisations and advocacy groups, that there is unmet need in our disability services. The implication one can draw from this consensus is that our disability and ageing services remain underfunded and inefficient, leading to the predominance of crisis-based intervention. Damian Griffis, Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Disability Network, pointed out that the level of unmet need for disability services in Aboriginal communities is even more acute, particularly beyond Newcastle, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains where half the New South Wales Aboriginal population live. Support for recommendations 8 and 31 to 34 is an important first step to opening up greater access to disability services for Aboriginal people. Recommendation 33 refers to provided and funded services for cultural competency training, to enable people to work more effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people from a non-English speaking background. A theme that seems to be running through many reports is that we need cultural training in so many areas.

  •  

According to the Deputy Director General of the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, more than 8,000 people do not have access to a disability service which they require, although 50 per cent of those 8,000 have received another type of service from the department. This demonstrates that approximately 4,000 people in New South Wales have undermet need. Importantly, of that group of people approximately 780 had received no service at all, and of those who received no service at all approximately 50 per cent waited longer than six months to receive a service. Some may brush this aside as a small minority of people not receiving adequate services, but if we think about the implications of plunging whole families into crisis or exposing them to the intense pressure of non-provision of service, we can see the significance for human rights in New South Wales.

Characterising the full extent of unmet and undermet need remains a live point of debate. The Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care suggests there is a lack of reliable data to measure unmet need, yet organisations such as the Council of Social Service of New South Wales dispute this and suggest the problem lies in Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care processing and analysis of data. Recently I received a response to a question I placed on notice for the Minister for Disability Services, and from the response I am inclined to support the assertion of the Council of Social Service of New South Wales that the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care does not sufficiently analyse the data it collects. At the end of the day, the committee acknowledged that there was evidence of significant unmet need in a number of key service delivery streams.

  •  

One potential measure of unmet need is waiting lists or service request registers. The committee examined the issue of waiting lists and heard evidence about Home Care Service NSW not maintaining waiting lists despite a 2005-06 New South Wales Public Accounts Committee inquiry recommendation to maintain them. The idea that people are required to call back on a daily basis to check whether a service is available is demeaning and ludicrous. Further, the lack of transparency around prioritisation criteria creates a high level of mistrust. However, I accept some of the problems associated with waiting lists and the disincentive to leave services. Recommendation 29 is a sensible way forward in developing a consistent policy on waiting lists. The Minister should adopt a presumption in favour of waiting lists and have only a small set of circumstances in which waiting lists will be not be used.

Another important theme of the inquiry was discussion of a person-centred approach to disability services. A number of recommendations are geared to refocusing how the Department of Aging, Disability and Home Care structures its services. When we talk about a person-centred approach to disability services we are talking about designing services around individuals, their families and their needs rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Roz Armstrong, an official community visitor in northern New South Wales, suggested to the committee that New South Wales is yet to deliver any really good examples of person-centred planning, especially by Department of Aging, Disability and Home Care service providers. Ms Armstrong told the committee:

  •  
      … individual planning goals are more about meeting service objectives rather than focusing on individual support needs. This occurs in both ADHC funded and ADHC provided services.

Service users, carers and service providers provided anecdotal evidence about the lack of person-centred approaches being implemented by the Department of Aging, Disability and Home Care. Carolyn Mason, a mother and primary carer, stated in relation to a person-centred approach:

  •  
      It should never be accepted practice to physically and/or chemically restrain as a substitute for professional care and treatment or to simply make the job easier for poorly trained, inexperienced or unprofessional staff or in the absence of quality care and service provision and person-centred planning.

Janice Marshall, another mother and carer, made a similar point that service delivery is crisis driven, which in turn restricts the ability for future planning around the needs of individuals. She said:

  •  
      Parents have to die, be seriously ill or abandon their loved one to even get into the system. This crisis-driven scheme causes widespread mental and physical illness within the families and often leads to family breakdowns, which ends up costing the State and ADHC even more money than if they actually funded the accommodation in the first place.

Recommendations 7 to 10 make important suggestions for reform and development of planning approaches. Importantly, we can see this focus on data collection and research and analysis even in the context of improving person-centred approaches. Greater planning focus on person-centred approaches inevitably leads us to the dialogue on individualised funding. While the New South Wales Disability Service Standards and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities articulate a vision of supporting individual needs with responsive services to remove social barriers, the practical reality of service delivery historically has allowed very little room for individualised funding packages. Individualised funding has the potential of increasing flexibility in service delivery and encouraging greater choice in services.

From the report it is clear that the committee spent a deal of effort considering how individualised funding may work in New South Wales and the benefits and pitfalls of such an approach. Other jurisdictions are much more advanced in disability service provision and delivery than New South Wales, and we need to draw on their experiences. The current Minister for Disability Services, the Hon. Andrew Constance, and the former Minister, the Hon. Peter Primrose, both made it clear that we must move ahead and modernise disability services to give a voice to essential human rights. I look forward to working with all members, all stakeholders and all people with disabilities on reforming our disability services.

Moving away from the big picture themes of the inquiry, the committee spent a considerable amount of time considering a number of key challenges in the disabilities portfolio. Devolution from large residential centres, lack of funding and efficient management of the Home Modification and Maintenance scheme, vacancy management in supported accommodation and monitoring effectiveness for licensed boarding houses are just some of the ongoing policy changes that New South Wales needs to confront. The New South Wales Parliament needs to ensure ongoing discussion and consultation to address specific issues. In conclusion, I express my support for and appreciation of those committed to enabling people with disabilities to live their lives with their families, carers or sector workers.

Recommendations 51 to 54 focus on ways to improve workforce capacity and skills so as not to overlook those on the service front line. We should encourage those who are considering a career in the disability service sector and give them a real career pathway rather than shifting them up to middle management positions where they are totally alienated from front-line care roles. I encourage all members to read the report. As we move ahead with the reform pathway, which the Minister for Disability Services has aptly started to outline, we should remember some of the lessons unveiled by this report. I commend the report to the House.

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