Disability Inclusion Bill

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:35): I rise briefly to indicate the Greens' support for the second reading stage of the Disability Inclusion Bill before us. In doing so, I refer members to my remarks on the Disability Inclusion Bill that was brought before the last parliament under the previous government. We were prepared to support it then and we are prepared to support it now. We are somewhat disappointed that it did not pass the parliament in a timely fashion prior to the prorogation of the previous parliament. Of course, new disability legislation is required within the transition to the NDIS and in moving from a state funding model to the new federal funding model.

The focus of this new bill is to provide that legal framework to support a whole-of-government approach to access and inclusion for people with disabilities, including achieving that very necessary positive cultural change. In moving from that state funding model, the Disability Inclusion Bill places a particular focus on the rights of persons with disabilities, as defined by the United Nations convention. The Greens welcome reference to our human rights in all legislation and certainly welcome it in this one.

The bill outlines the roles and responsibilities of the state government in disability following the transition to the NDIS. This includes advancing the interests of people with a disability through mainstream programs and policy development, particularly in relation to the national disability scheme and in understanding disability access and inclusion planning, including a requirement to develop a state disability inclusion plan to coordinate and guide disability access and inclusion plans prepared by state government departments and local councils. This bill also empowers the state government to make safeguarding regulations deemed necessary in the NDIS environment.

The bill defines the state government's role in creating accessible and inclusive communities, and supports South Australia's role in the National Disability Strategy. While the NDIS will cover specialist disability support, people with disability also access mainstream services provided by the state government. I note, for example, the National Relay Service and the concerns at the moment with the diminution of funding to that service, which will in fact restrict access, not just to disability services for those people who are deaf or hard of hearing, who need those essential services, but to many other services. I reiterate the Greens' concerns that have been previously raised in this council with regard to that issue.

I thank the previous minister, minister Hildyard, for her briefings. I thank the current minister, minister Lensink, for her briefings with regard to both of these bills. I note that we have a series of amendments. Whereas before we had a raft of amendments from the Hon. Kelly Vincent, the former member for the Dignity Party, we now have a series of amendments from both the opposition and the government, some of which address the concerns that were raised by the Hon. Kelly Vincent.

The Greens, at that time, expressed our concerns with ensuring that a community visitor was a must in any legislation and certainly appreciated previous minister Hildyard's assurances that the use of the word 'may' was simply for the transitional nature of that particular time, which of course has now passed, well and truly. We are interested to ensure those hard-won gains. It took so long for South Australia to embrace a Community Visitor Scheme in this state, and I commend the Hon. Michelle Lensink for her work in that.

I also note that I had some work done in ensuring a community visitor in the mental health space in my previous role as a policy officer for the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia, dragging the then health minister kicking and screaming by forcing that change through the parliament rather than through the machinery of government. I note, with great concern, that there is a time factor here—a pressing time factor—with regard to the screening mechanisms and that that really needs to be put in place urgently.

With those few words, I look forward to debating both the government amendments, some of which address the Hon. Kelly Vincent's concerns raised last year, and also the new opposition amendments to their own bill, which is now presented here as a government bill, yet again. I welcome the leadership that they are showing from the opposition benches that was not shown from the government benches. I look forward to the debate.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. D.G.E. Hood.

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