Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 5 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1489..
MS TUCKER: My question is for Mr Stefaniak. Mr Stefaniak, in the recent budget, $50,000 of new money was announced for vacation and after-school care for children with a disability over 12 years - a move that was welcomed by the community concerned, who have suffered extreme hardship and anxiety because of the lack of services available to them over the years. However, in correspondence to me and in the response to the Social Policy Committee's report on the inquiry into the Commonwealth-State Disability Agreement it was stated that funding for the existing program, the employer assistance program, was in doubt, depending on the availability of funding. Can the Minister confirm for the Assembly that these existing services are at risk?
MR STEFANIAK: I think that program is run by my colleague, the Minister for Health. I will transfer the question to her, Ms Tucker. She can supply you with an answer to that question.
Mrs Carnell: Would you ask it again, Ms Tucker.
MS TUCKER: I am asking about the existing programs for children over 12 years with a disability for vacation and after-school care. I have written to Minister Stefaniak and he has never referred me to you before, so I am not sure why it is your area. The Minister, Mr Stefaniak - - -
Mrs Carnell: Now I cannot hear you.
MR SPEAKER: Order! The Chief Minister wants to hear the question.
MS TUCKER: The Minister has told me that there is an evaluation going on, which I accept, but also that the funding is not definitely there, even if the evaluation is positive. I am assuming it will be, because of the feedback everyone has been getting on that issue. In the response to the Social Policy Committee when we looked into the Commonwealth-State Disability Agreement it was also stated that whether these programs would be continually funded was dependent on the availability of funding. Is it true that only existing programs are at risk now?
MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I can only answer questions on my own budget, on the budget that we brought down in the area of disability. Certainly, that budget has increased, and increased quite significantly, this year, last year and the year before. In this budget we have made available $50,000. I can guarantee that the $50,000 is available for holiday programs for children with disabilities. The $50,000 included in the budget will help for holiday programs for children with disabilities as well - another issue that I have been lobbied hard on. Programs already are run in Belconnen and Tuggeranong, Mr Speaker, and there is no indication that those programs are under any threat. Although listed as an additional new initiative, funding is from internal parts of the department. As a result of the lobbying that I got, we managed to find money so that we could make holiday programs and after-school care available for children with disabilities who are over the age of 12.