The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (15:16): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Human Services regarding disability transport services.
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: Disability services providers, particularly those supporting people living in group homes, are reporting that it is becoming extremely difficult to transport clients with disabilities as the NDIS continues to roll out. Previously, clients of disability support agencies living in state government-funded shared homes often had a shared accessible vehicle. However, the NDIS funding model means that transport is now funded individually.
Typically, individuals living in group accommodation are receiving $2,472 a year in transport funding per client. This is less than half of what is required, with a shared accessible vehicle for four people typically requiring a contribution of around $6,000 per annum, per client. Accessible taxis are another option for people, however, there are limited taxis and they are not always available at the desired times. $2,472 will purchase approximately 50 return trips a year—this is less than one a week. The question is: does the minister maintain that less than one return taxi fare per week is fair and reasonable for clients of shared homes who previously had access to a state government-funded accessible vehicle?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (15:17): I thank the honourable member for his question, although I think he is mixing up a few issues, which I suppose isn't surprising given that we are moving towards the full transition at 30 June from block funding to individualised funding under the NDIS. I think there are two separate matters that he has raised. One is in relation to the transport subsidies, which was the subject of extensive questioning in the last sitting week. It is an ongoing matter that the Hon. Stephan Knoll and myself are working to resolve.
Regarding the matter of the number of taxi vouchers, I would have to say, if the honourable member thought that the number of vouchers per client was unfair, then at this stage there has been no change from the previous arrangements under the former Labor government in that people still have access to a book of 80 vouchers that they can use in a six-month period. As I said, the Hon. Stephan Knoll and myself, through our negotiations with the commonwealth government are working through various means to resolve the matter of the alternative transport arrangements under the NDIS. Clearly, we are about to go into caretaker mode so hopefully that's not going to slow things down, but we are working to resolve that matter as fast as we can.
I am not quite sure what the honourable member's point is in relation to transport vehicles that NGOs may have themselves, because that is a matter that they manage themselves through their own financial arrangements. Once again, if honourable members weren't happy with the way that the NDIS has been established, then they—Labor members in particular—have nowhere else to look but in the mirror.
The NDIS bilateral that has led to these arrangements where all of these services are being cashed out through the NDIS is an agreement that was signed by the former government. I think the pen was held by the Hon. Jay Weatherill, so these arrangements have been in train for some time. There are various pricing arrangements under the NDIS that have operated. I think we should all be pleased to see that on the weekend the commonwealth has agreed that there are some services which will receive an increase in their funding as of 1 July.