Minister for Disability Services and Mental Health, Curtis Pitt told State Parliament today that the National Disability Insurance Scheme is an historic opportunity to bring about real change for people with a disability.

Mr Pitt said the State Government would form a working group of key stakeholders to put Queensland’s case to Canberra.

“We need to get our response right so that together we can strike the best deal for Queenslanders,” Mr Pitt said.

“Ageing carers in particular need to know that when they are gone, someone somewhere will be able to look after their autistic son or daughter, their nephew, niece or friend. That’s what the insurance scheme is all about,” Mr Pitt said.

Mr Pitt also told Parliament that the state’s first stand-alone Ministry for Mental Health was timely as Queenslanders come to grips with the tragedy upon tragedy that marked the start of 2011.

“I’ve seen the anguish on people’s faces on the Cassowary Coast. For many people, mental trauma can be but a heartbeat away from mental illness.

“As a government, we need to reach out to people and give them the support and services they need to turn their lives around,” he said.

The Minister also said that in a few months’ time, Queensland’s first forensic disability service – a purpose-built secure facility at Wacol – would be open for business.

“There’s long been a need for non-hospital-based, secure care for people with a cognitive or intellectual disability who are on forensic orders.”

Apart from post-construction modifications the centre should be up and running by mid-year.

“Its chief focus will be to provide services, counselling, rehabilitation and the right kind of care to clients to help them turn their lives around. Gone are the days when governments simply locked the door and threw away the key.

“My focus as Minister will be to break down the barriers around mental health, to remove the stigma and to engage with the community, business and industry and say: it’s ok to be different,” he said.

“Everyone deserves a fair go. Everyone deserves a chance. Importantly, everyone deserves a chance to reach their potential,” Mr Pitt said.

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