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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 1012..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

affected residents through the Bushfire Support Unit. Importantly, the Bushfire Support Unit will be able to assist particular households and be a link to both government and community services.

Secondly, the regional community services organisations, Communities @ Work and Woden Community Services will take responsibility for continuing to support particular families referred to them by the recovery centre. These regional community services have indicated that they are keen and have the capacity to provide personal support services to bushfire-affected citizens within their local communities. Thirdly, bushfire recovery counselling services will continue to be provided by ACT Health through Relationships Australia and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Appointments for these services will be able to be made through the Bushfire Support Unit. (Extension of time granted.)

And, lastly, we have written to every household that has registered with the recovery centre to advise of the new arrangements should they need help in the future. Information and contact details for the Bushfire Support Unit will be in Community Update and the advertisements in the Saturday Canberra Times. A brochure outlining changes will be available at the recovery centre, libraries and shopfronts and details will also be included in the bushfire recovery web site. The integration of most of the services undertaken by the recovery centre and the taskforce secretariat to the mainstream public service and community agencies is a natural progression and important in terms of moving forward and looking to the future. However, the government is committed to ensuring that support continues to be available for those who need it. Whilst there is still much to be done and challenges ahead, the time is right to move to the next phase-it is the wish of the vast majority of the residents affected by the fire to move to the next phase-of community and personal recovery and to integrate most of the recovery process into the normal business of government and community services. We have consulted exhaustively and in detail for the last four months on this natural progression and the next phase of recovery.

This motion, at its heart, is an appalling defamation of workers in the recovery centre who, it has been suggested through this motion, would simply abandon their clients, simply abandon the 1,400 families that have been part and parcel of their work for the last 14 months. To think for one minute that they would not have been consulted, to think for one minute that those that continue to be clients of that service or the service that has been provided have not been consulted in detail about their future care and the future array of services is a defamation of those hardworking and dedicated staff at the recovery centre who have made the delivery of this service through the recovery centre a benchmark for the rest of the world to follow and emulate.

To suggest that we are abandoning people in a cold-hearted way without any consultation is an absolute nonsense and I find it quite offensive. The government will not support this motion. This matter has been heavily negotiated. It would now be a matter of real concern for us to go back to the community, having negotiated this with them, and say, "We have changed our mind. We were going to close this centre and move to a whole new service delivery model, a whole new structure and a whole new set of arrangements that have now been articulated and communicated. Forget about all that-back to square one."We are not going to do that. We are going back to where we were.

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