Can I just start by thanking everyone for joining us here today. It’s great to be here with you, Melissa, so early on after the last election and congratulations to you on your election here in Lindsay. And it’s great to have Stuart Robert, a good mate over many, many years, who has taken on the job in Cabinet of the NDIS, as well as government service delivery more broadly.
And the opportunity today was really – once all these cameras go away – for us to get a lot of listening happening on our part, hearing firsthand about your experiences with the NDIS and where you see some of the good work being done, but also the challenges we’ve got.
The NDIS over the last few years, we’ve gone from 30,000 people involved to 270,000. We’ve got over 80,000 people who are now accessing the services and disability support for the first time ever. This has been quite a steep curve that the organisation has been on. I think it is one of the most important social reforms that our country has seen in at least a generation. It is an enormously big task, and obviously in implementing it, it’s going to have its challenges, and it’s going to have its frustrations. But I think it’s important to keep our eyes focused on the goal, and that is to see the full scheme implementation and full coverage extending to around half a million Australians, and for that to be done in a timely way, in a quality way and an effective way.
Because the NDIS, it’s not compensation, it’s not welfare. It’s not any of these things. It’s a support that enables people to realise their potential, in the same way any other Australian can. And that’s very much how I see it, and so I will try to understand what some of the frustrations and blockages are, particularly for Stuart and Melissa, so we can understand how to remove some of those and make sure it’s everything that we want it to be, and that we have a clear understanding what the expectations of the scheme are.
It isn’t the answer to every single problem, but it certainly is the answer to many, and we want to get a good understanding of how we can take it from where it is now, with 270,000 clients, to around about half a million clients over the next five years. And that’s a very worthy goal, I think it’s very achievable, but it’s got to be done in a way that’s actually hitting the mark. Because people rely on this scheme, as they should, and I think it can really transform people’s lives and lead to a higher quality of participation and involvement and engagement, which is what everyone is looking for.
So I want to thank you very much for coming together today. We’re going to run through a bit of a programme, a discussion, but there will be a lot less talking from me and Stuart and Melissa and a lot more listening and we’re looking forward to that. So thank you all very much.