Some of the most frustrating, confronting and even distressing experiences I've had as a member of parliament have come when I've dealt with families of someone with a disability or, indeed, directly with someone with a disability.
I'm frustrated by my limited capacity to help as much as I would like to help—and I know that every member of this place would have had similar experiences.
I'm so proud that in government Labor built the NDIS. We all saw it as the circuit breaker. We all saw it as the opportunity for us as parliamentarians to do more for those challenged by mental or physical disability. Yet I am devastatingly disappointed by what's happening in my electorate at the moment, as people, frustrated by the inability to get the assistance from the NDIS that they were so hopeful for, stream into my electorate office. This is a real concern. They have concerns about planning processes, the quality of the plans, the rushed planning conversations and the need for more specialised trainers and planners.
We need to collectively do something about this. The implementation of the NDIS over recent years has been a failure. It's failing the people who need help the most.
We all should be doing something more in our electorates, and I'm holding an NDIS information session on Monday, 28 August in my electorate at the Cessnock Leagues Club between 11 am and 1 pm. I'm encouraging all stakeholders to come along and have the conversation with me to see what we can do at the local level to improve the services available for people who are reliant on others to help them in life.
On another note, it's National Science Week. This is an important platform that helps us showcase the real contribution that science, technology, engineering and maths are making to both emerging industries and the diversification of traditional industries—and I'm the shadow minister for agriculture—and nowhere is that more true than in the agricultural sector. Science forms the basis of all innovation. On Saturday I'll be going to one of my local vineyards to participate in an event called Drones in the Vines. It is a perfect example of how the viticulture sector is embracing technology and innovation. I thank the Hunter Innovation and Science Hub for organising that event, in cooperation with the producers. I'll be very happy to be there celebrating Science Week, the contribution of science and the innovation that's taking place in the agricultural sector.