30 November 2023

Good morning, everybody. I'd like to acknowledge that we meet here on the land of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people and I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging. I'll also like to acknowledge that we've heard from Minister Amanda Rishworth. She certainly says that the world of disability has had a busy year, but she herself has had a very busy year. We work very closely within the Albanese government to make sure that issues to do with disability and an inclusive Australia are at the forefront of government decision making. I know that Minister Rishworth will be pulling together a government response to the Disability Royal Commission before the budget next year, which is really important work on top of the other things which we've already heard from.

I'd also like to acknowledge all the ambassadors. You've all had your own journeys to be here, and you've had your journeys to be ambassadors. But I really think in many ways you represent what International Day of People with Disabilities is all about. And I think that you have a marvellous opportunity to get other Australians to reconsider what disability means. And so, you're all very fantastic and it's really powerful what you're doing.

And that really goes to one of the two points I'd like to make today in anticipation of Sunday. The first point is that, and I really want to reinforce this to you, the federal government, the Albanese Labor government, is very committed to an inclusive Australia. It’s in the Labor DNA. It was in 2008 that a previous Labor government, of which I was a baby Minister, supported the ratification of the Convention of Rights for people with disability. And we have a human rights lens on what we do with any matter to do with disability, because fundamentally, we understand that a disability is just a fact of life. It's an attribute, but it's one of hundreds of attributes that a human being has. And it is not a person's disability which should define their life and the barriers to people having a fulfilling life are not the person with their disability. It's the barriers that the rest of the community put in their path. I think you can summarize many of those barriers down to a lack of money and a lack of power, and this government's committed to supporting people to have their best lives.

The other thing I briefly wanted to mention, in addition to what you've heard earlier, is that one of the best things that this country does is the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Right around the world, other countries look at us, other disability activists look at us, and they say, how did we get to this point that we have a significant investment in the National Disability Insurance Scheme? But having said that I think we're doing well in the world, that isn't enough, I think, for this country. When the NDIS works well, it's life changing. It can change lives. It is changing lives. It will continue to change lives.

But this government, and I say this in advance of December the 3rd, is very committed to making sure that the National Disability Insurance Scheme helps lay the foundations for a more inclusive Australia. The National Disability Insurance Scheme in and of itself, is not the end of the matter for an inclusive Australia. It is a big step forward in making it function better, it is a big step forward, but really making an inclusive Australia is on all of us. Not just the ambassadors, not just the people in this room, not just Minister Rishworth and myself, not just Giancarlo. It's on all levels of government and it's on the Australian community. But to make the NDIS better, we want to make sure it becomes a more human experience, a more humane experience, a less bureaucratic experience. We want to make sure that people feel like they have agency when they're dealing in the scheme. We want to make sure that the scheme is transparent and consistent. We want to make sure that people with disabilities dealing with the scheme have people to deal with in the scheme, not bureaucracy. So, we want to make it a more personal approach, a more consistent approach.

What we also want to do is to make sure that it is there for future generations. I think that as we celebrate disability in this country, we need to acknowledge not just the good things, but some of the challenges. And one of the challenges is that some people in the system, some service providers, some people who get between the scheme and the individual on the scheme, are overcharging and under-delivering. They're not focusing on the outcome. They're looking at what they can get out of it for themselves. And I do not speak about people with disability, but I do speak about some of the people who live in the world of the NDIS, charging services, not providing consistency, not providing quality.

So, we want to make a more humane scheme as we approach December the 3rd and the International Day of People with Disability, and we want to make it a scheme where the best interests of the participant are what come first and not some of the service providers and some of the other characters who have popped up since the scheme has been created.

So, I want everyone to have a lovely Sunday. And as Minister Rishworth, I think very aptly said, we want to make every day a day for people with disability. But let's celebrate our successes. And I really look forward to seeing the impact that the ambassadors will have, you already have, and will continue to have. Thank you very much.