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WA still sidelined as the NDIS moves closer

The passage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme levy legislation through the Federal Parliament finally provides some security and certainty for people living with disability and their families.
Painfully, however, this doesn't apply to people in WA, as the Premier, Colin Barnett, continues with his refusal to commit to the scheme.
As Labor and Liberal Governments around the country have joined up, the Premier has been playing an increasingly unjustifiable game with Canberra.
He has turned this into an argument about east verses west, rather than a productive discussion about how best to provide choices and support for each person with disability in WA.
I am concerned by the possibility that as this debate grinds on and the brinksmanship continues, people with disability, their families and carers will become increasingly frustrated and disillusioned.
Rather than seeing their state become part of this national effort, people living with disability in WA are being told, essentially, to wait.
The other states are preparing for their launch sites, while WA is on the outer.
The one thing I'm certain of is that people in WA won't give up on their efforts to get the NDIS established.
As a member of the Senate committee inquiring into the NDIS legislation, I witnessed the same level of distress and urgency here in WA as I did in every other jurisdiction. People with disabilities and their families spoke intensely about their need for immediate support, choice and control.
Despite this, the Premier and his Ministers are sticking to their established line, that WA's My Way scheme is stronger, better invested and more effective than anything being offered under a NDIS.
This is in spite of the fact the NDIS hasn't even started yet.
The Senate Inquiry hearings in Perth presented the Committee with a great opportunity to talk to families, carers and organisations with learned experience of the WA system.
In particular, one mum spoke with so much passion and emotion that her story has stayed with me since.
She spoke about her son's 'individual gifts, talents, abilities, interests and dreams'. The great strength of the NDIS, in her opinion, was the fact that giving her son and her family more power, choice and control of his care would greatly improve the her son's quality of life and family's peace of mind.
It was so clear that gaps still exist in terms of care and choice he has. One especially poignant example of this was the fact that in his current care accommodation, staff members are unable to accompany him to go out with his sister, in his mum's words, he adores.
This limits his opportunities to spend time with his sister and his brother, despite the fact that as his mum says, 'his brother and sister will outlive us and their relationship with their brother is very important to all of them'.
Clearly, by providing better choices, options and flexibility, the NDIS can greatly improve the quality of life and quality of care enjoyed by people with disability, while at the same time delivering better support for their families, friends and carers.
People are so keen for this scheme to begin. There's a sense of that right around the country - an excitement that things will change.
There is much to learn about how best to deliver the NDIS, and that's why the legislation has been designed in the way it has.
While the Premier has sought to create a states-rights type argument out of the issue of a federated model of care, the reality is that this is a national scheme with a consistent framework and local delivery.
The DisabilityCare legislation establishes monitoring and evaluation processes for the national launch sites to ensure strong local delivery.
During the rollout process, launch sites will be tweaked and to make sure this local delivery is as effective of possible.
The learning and gained experience received through the launch sites are fundamental components of making sure the NDIS works well on the local level, to deliver the localised services people need and so desperately want.
We are fortunate that the Premier's stubbornness is eclipsed by the passion of those people who have been campaigning for the NDIS for so long.
This is an impasse the Premier needs to address. We do not want Western Australians to be missing out on opportunities to get the care and support that other Australians living with a disability will get.
The Premier implies that WA will lose what is good about our system.
Yes, there are good areas of our system- many aspects of which have already been incorporated into the NDIS.
The fact remains that there is still a large level of unmet need, lack of choice and access to services here in WA.
There are good parts in the disability services system of every other state that has signed up. They seem to have the capacity to negotiate and see the benefits of working together as a nation. Is this beyond our Premier?

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