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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 235..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

access employment. It is a very difficult issue and it is an issue on which we need to continue to maintain real focus.

In relation to the specific question, the government has launched a new program specifically designed to help graduating students with disabilities. The post-school options program will provide individual funding, information and referral services to support school graduates to make the transition from school to adult occupations. The government anticipates that about 30 people will benefit from the new program in 2002. $500,000 has been allocated to the program for that year and recurrent per annum funding will also be provided.

Funds are available to graduates who are eligible for the disability support pension and who have disabilities that prevent them working full time. Funds are available to an individual for a maximum of three years, allowing the school graduate to trial and seek entry to an alternative to work program. The post-school options program was initiated by clients and parents and the non-government sector. The government is, as always, seeking contributions to the program from the Commonwealth under the Commonwealth/State Disability Agreement.

I must say that this is a particularly good initiative, which enhances and complements other programs that are in existence and which I am very pleased to see. In fact, they are programs which I am very pleased to patronise. I refer particularly to the program that is run by Mental Health Services at the Cafe Pazzini in the Health Building. This is a wonderful facility for providing employment opportunities to some of our people with disabilities. I also refer to Northside Contractors, a gardening contracting firm which I have just engaged and which I would recommend to all members.

Periodic Detention Centre

MR HUMPHRIES: My second question is to the minister for corrections. Given the Labor Party's election commitment not to build a prison at Symonston, have you consulted, Mr Quinlan, with residents of the surrounding suburbs, such as Red Hill and Narrabundah, on your decision to advance a capital works program to upgrade the Periodic Detention Centre at Symonston into what will be more like a mini-prison than a weekend detention facility?

MR QUINLAN: The short answer is: not as yet but certainly we will. It is going to be done in the context of finding ourselves with a remand centre that is totally inadequate, not only for the numbers to be housed there on any given day but also in its facilities, design and probably location.

While I am on my feet, I may as well advise the house that in a remand centre with a capacity of 69 there have been up to 90 prisoners on remand there on a given day in recent times. I am also informed informally that some times the Christmas season does not bring goodwill to all men or women, and there is often a demand on the remand centre above the normal around that time of the year.

As a government and as an Assembly-because we are all responsible in a way-we have a very severe problem. Within a week of assuming this ministry, I was informed that the territory health officer was taking a close look at that facility and that if it did get

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