The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (14:34): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Human Services regarding the NDIS.
The PRESIDENT: Do you seek leave?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I do.
The PRESIDENT: I couldn't hear because your own side was jibber jabbering.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: As revealed in the 2018 budget estimates, around 55 per cent of NDIS plans in South Australia are underutilised, meaning approved funding for individuals living with disability is not being spent as intended. I note that during estimates an official from the minister's department confirmed, with regard to NDIS underspending, that:
There is some money…sitting with the commonwealth and they say it is being put against Future Fund requirements.
We learnt yesterday that the federal government's surplus will only be achieved through an NDIS underspend of $1.6 billion for 2019-2020. My question to the minister is: will the minister join with the opposition in expressing disappointment at the Morrison Liberal government for selling short South Australians living with disability?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (14:35): I thank the honourable member for her question. The matter of underutilisation of NDIS plans, I would have to say, is something that we have been onto for some time, long before the South Australian Labor opposition discovered the comments of the—
The Hon. I.K. Hunter interjecting:
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Hunter, I cannot hear the minister which means I cannot rule on any points of order from the opposition benches or the crossbench. Can we just hear the minister in silence?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: We know that the South Australian Labor opposition are unable to come up with ideas of their own, so I think they have jumped on the comments of Senator Jordon Steele-John, who has raised this as a concern. Can I assure the house that this is a matter that South Australia has been raising for some time through various means, including through the Disability Reform Council (DRC) meetings.
The Hon. I.K. Hunter interjecting:
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Hunter, we do not need a commentary.
The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins interjecting:
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Dawkins, can you please stay out of it? Minister, get on with the answer, please.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The underutilisation of NDIS plans has been of concern, not just to South Australia but to all jurisdictions. Our utilisation rates are lower than other states, in part because the first people to transition to the scheme were children, also because we are a smaller market, so it is not as easy for participants and providers to connect. We have larger markets, particularly when you look at states that have large regional centres like Victoria and New South Wales. Where those markets are much more robust, it is easier for people to find the services that they are looking for, so it has been of concern for us for some time. It is something that I have raised through the DRC.
The utilisation rates have improved a little bit in South Australia. It was 56 per cent. I understand that it may have risen to 65 per cent. We are very keen for those rates to increase because clearly that means that people aren't getting the supports they need. We know that it is a national problem. In one of the trial areas in Barwon, where the NDIS has been operating for several years and the market is much more mature, they have seen those rates certainly increase. This is something we have raised on a very regular basis with the commonwealth because we think it is of concern. I am glad that the Labor Party have finally realised that it's an issue, and it is something that we will continue to lobby the commonwealth government on.