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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 3 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 762..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

The review did not focus on universal concessions such as public health or education. Instead the focus was towards a secondary tier of concession that provides assistance and support that is targeted to specific populations groups, although this support is subject to eligibility criteria. In relation to eligibility, one finding of the review is that the majority of territory concessions rely on Australian government concession cards in order to establish eligibility. By default, this has resulted in Australian government criteria being used to determine who is able to access ACT government concessions.

Now that we have a more comprehensive picture of the current administrative arrangements, our next step was to consider the policy issues around those concessions. With this in mind, further work will be undertaken, particularly on conditions of assistance. This policy work will respond to many of the concerns raised in written submissions from the community.

To this end, an interdepartmental committee will be established to coordinate a number of initiatives based on this report's findings. It will include representatives from each agency with responsibility for concessions. In addition, the human rights unit from the Department of Justice and Community Safety will be consulted to ensure outcomes of compatibility with the territory's human rights framework. Members will find the terms of reference for the interdepartmental committee in the body of the report.

The delivery of concessions is a complex exercise that involves different categories of assistance, target groups, eligibility criteria and government agencies. It is essential, in terms of the long-term sustainability and success of concessions, that the IDC consider developing a policy framework, developing a communications strategy and developing strategies for data collection and analysis. The review has found that several concessions have developed on an ad hoc basis and many have been transferred between agencies over time. Consequently, there are opportunities for greater policy linkages.

A stronger policy framework will seek to focus on the target group that the concessions are designed to support. It will strengthen concessions as a package of assistance, rather than as separate forms of assistance. This policy framework will focus on supporting low-income households and individuals, the disadvantaged and seniors. It will seek to provide equity in access across who is eligible and supported by government concessions program.

To ensure every eligible cardholder receives their rightful concessions, good communication is essential. A comprehensive communications strategy will develop actions to achieve this. This strategy will be cognisant of the fact that members of the community acquire information in different ways, and information delivered through a range of appropriate communication vehicles would take into account language, cultural barriers, IT barriers and physical access barriers.

In relation to data collection, there are currently limitations in regard to information collated and held in relation to concession recipients. Data collection needs to be expanded so that you have a clearer picture of citizens receiving concessions. In

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