National Disability Insurance Scheme

The Hon. PAUL GREEN [5.25 p.m.]: On behalf of the Christian Democratic Party I speak in debate on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NSW Enabling) Bill 2013. This harmonisation bill will enable the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which has bipartisan support, to function and to operate in New South Wales. I note that many State bills are being harmonised with national law and I applaud the Government for reducing red tape and the burden on families in this way.

Almost one in five people in New South Wales—1.2 million or 19 per cent of the population—had a disability at the time of the most recent statistics collection. Most of these people—88 per cent or 1.1 million—had a specific restriction consisting of a core activity restriction—that is, self-care, mobility and/or communication, and/or a schooling or employment restriction. Of those affected, 38 per cent with a core activity restriction had a mild level of restriction associated with their disability; a further 23 per cent had a moderate level; 21 per cent a severe level; and 19 per cent a profound level of restriction.

The rate of disability for males and females increased markedly with age. For males, the disability rate rose from 6 per cent for children aged nought to 4 years to 80 per cent of people aged 85 years and over. For females the rate for children aged nought to 4 years was 2 per cent, increasing to 84 per cent for those aged 85 years and over. People born overseas in non-English speaking countries had a disability rate of 18 per cent compared with 24 per cent for those born in mainly English speaking countries. This reflects the older age structure of early post World War II migrants who were largely from the United Kingdom and Ireland. For 85 per cent of people with a disability, physical conditions were the cause of their disability. Among this group the most common cause was diseases of the musculoskeletal system, which included arthritis. For 15 per cent of people, mental and behavioural disorders were the causes of their disability. Of dependent children with a disability roughly half, or 52 per cent, were restricted by a physical condition and 48 per cent by a mental or behavioural disorder.

A range of causes were reported by people as the main reason for their disability. The most common reason stated, which accounted for a quarter of those with a disability, was that it “just came on” or that it was “due to old age”. Over one-third of people living in households needed assistance with property maintenance. Other activities that people with a disability commonly require assistance with include health care, 26 per cent; transport, 25 per cent; and housework, 25 per cent. Of people receiving assistance, 87 per cent cited family and friends as the caregivers and 42 per cent cited formal organisations. An estimated 798,300, or about one in eight people, are performing a caring role. Of these 162,200, or one in five, were primary carers. Women accounted for 57 per cent of all carers and 73 per cent of primary carers. Women accounted for 57 per cent of all carers and 73 per cent of primary carers.

The largest number of carers were aged 45 to 54 years—161,600—while the largest proportion, 24 per cent, were aged 55 to 64 years. Some 52 per cent of primary carers who resided with their main recipient of care were partners and 24 per cent were parents. Primary carers who did not reside with the main recipient of care were usually sons or daughters of that person, representing 64 per cent, or other relatives and friends, representing 31 per cent. About 4 in 10 primary carers and 3 in 10 other carers had a disability. Profound or severe core activity restrictions were reported by 12 per cent—that is, 19,800—of primary carers and 7 per cent—or 42,500—of other carers. The most commonly reported reasons for taking on the caring role were family responsibility, at 48 per cent; the belief that they could provide better care, 48 per cent; and/or an emotional obligation to provide care, 40 per cent. Half of primary carers provided assistance for 20 hours or more per week. People of working age, 15 to 64 years, with a disability had a lower rate of labour force participation, at 50 per cent, than those without a disability, at 80 per cent.

In 1998, 313,700 people of working age with a disability, that is 15 to 64 years, were employed. Almost 28 per cent of working-age people with a disability were permanently unable to work. In 1998, two-thirds of people with a disability aged 5 years and older, living in households, were able to go out as often as they would like. Of the remainder, 33 per cent reported that they did not go out as often as they would like and 1 per cent reported that they did not go out at all. Nearly half, or 47 per cent, of the people with a disability who did not go out as often as they liked indicated their own illness or condition were the main reason. I commend the New South Wales Government for being the first State to sign on to the National Disability Insurance Scheme through a heads of agreement with the Commonwealth.