Tuesday, 20 September 2022


Disability Amendment Bill 2022



Disability Amendment Bill 2022

Second reading

Debate resumed.

Mr RICHARDSON (Mordialloc) (14:45): It is good to be back on deck and continuing my contribution on the Disability Amendment Bill 2022. At that stage I was talking about how important inclusive education is in our education system. Those opposite had talked about the notion of this government not doing anything, and I had to remind them of the Inclusive Schools Fund, which has had now eight rounds, $200 000 for each project, to make indoor and outdoor learning spaces more accessible into the future. It is all about our government’s, the Andrews Labor government’s, investment in inclusion to support students with disabilities into the future. It goes with the disability inclusion package that was announced a couple of years ago by the former Deputy Premier, the member for Monbulk. ‘As transformational as three-year-old kinder’ is how the department described it to me in my capacity as Parliamentary Secretary for Schools. For the one in five kids who need additional support, that tier 2 funding is another example of how we are really supporting inclusion.

What I love about this bill is that the second key piece, to be delivered before caretaker, before we go into the break, is the release of an exposure draft of a new disability inclusion bill for public consultation, and importantly the exposure draft of the bill will include a provision for a commissioner for disability inclusion. That is a really important hallmark because, speaking in my capacity as Parliamentary Secretary for Mental Health and Social Inclusion, we want to make sure that every Victorian, no matter their circumstances, no matter their postcode, feels like they belong, that they are connected and that they have a place in our wonderful state, and that is never more important than for people living with disability, the 1.1 million Victorians who need that support and care each and every day—that they are supported, that they truly feel included across a range of different areas. Just to set that context up, the Inclusive Victoria plan that was updated recently, the 2022–26 strategy, is really an important element of that. So in culture, in practice and in everything that we do we make sure that we are providing support for inclusive access and practices across the board.

This bill really builds on the Andrews Labor government’s legacy in that space, and contrary to the suggestions before that this has just turned up in the last few weeks, the delivery of this bill is part of an agenda that has been going on for years. This is stage 2 of that. If we have the great honour of coming back after 26 November and continuing that, we will build on that legacy and support. I am really excited to think of a partnership with the federal government going forward. Rather than looking to de-scale the national disability insurance scheme, we continue to support, we open up transparency and we get a better deal for Victorians who access the national disability insurance scheme. That is what it is about. It is about making sure that all Victorians are supported in that time of need.

This bill builds on all the foundations that have been set, with the NDIS, in education, in accessible transport—I know the Minister for Public Transport has done a huge amount of work in making public transport more accessible—and in everything that we do. But importantly, the final point I want to make is that it is led by communities. Just like the Inclusive Victoria plan had a huge amount of stakeholder engagement, submissions, hearings and community consultation, we make sure that we are always led by people living with disability and that we understand their experiences in informing our decision-making and policies into the future. So this is stage 2 of a great amount of work, and if we come back after 26 November, it will pass through and we will get on with delivering for people with disability.

Mr FOWLES (Burwood) (14:49): It is my unenviable task to fill in the 35 seconds before the valedictory speeches begin. I am very much looking forward to hearing from the current member for Ringwood in his valedictory. But in the meantime I am called upon to make a contribution on the Disability Amendment Bill 2022, and I simply cannot wait to find out what I am going to say.

Mr Walsh: Read the talking points.

Mr FOWLES: Yes, I am getting there, do not worry. This bill forms part of stage 2 of the Disability Act 2006 review, and it is going to introduce critical amendments to enhance services, safeguards and protections—

Business interrupted under resolution of house today.