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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 6 Hansard (4 June) . . Page.. 1776..


Leaving it until term 4 to provide alternatives for these families is leaving it to the last minute. Term 4 is a time when families are winding down. Late October, potentially early November, is the start of term 4. We all know how much happens in the territory through December, and then in January Canberra is traditionally a ghost town. So the window of opportunity families are going to have from when these potential service providers are established and available to start talking to families about the services they are going to be able to provide in 2015 is very limited, especially by the time a family figures out who these service providers are, engages with them and then makes an informed decision as to what is going to be best for their child under the NDIS. This choice is a key aspect that I think everyone is supportive of, but with choice also comes the need for time to reflect and deliberate on what is the best option available for you.

The evidence is clear that a lot of the planning aspects have been a left until the last minute. I admit that it is better late than never, but still late nonetheless. The idea that we are starting a conversation with the families these changes will affect in the month before the new scheme begins is something that is hard to comprehend. This is the biggest reform to the way disability services have been provided in this country and in this territory, yet in the month before they come into effect we have "started a conversation".

"Consultation"is a very rubbery word that is often thrown around by all sides of politics but, ultimately, consultation is sitting down and having a collaborative conversation with someone else, a conversation where an idea might be floated, feedback is taken and future discussions are based around the input that has been put together. It seems in this instance that the consultation has been, "We have made a decision. We as the government are going to cease providing these services. And now we're going to consult you and tell you what we have decided."It is informing on a decision; it is most certainly not collaborative consultation.

I am going to remind people of the movie Field of Dreams—there is an element of, "Build it and they will come,"here. As Mr Rattenbury said, ending services is about having a transition point. But the way these early intervention services are being ended is not so much a case of a transition point where a new provider comes in and the government withdraws but, rather, a guillotine with the government saying, "We will not provide services beyond this date. It's up to the private sector."These are people's lives we are playing with, and the simple adage of "Build it and they will come"does not fill people with confidence.

An indication of the haste to start getting the sector ready is the announcement of grants of $50,000 for service providers to go towards preparing businesses or organisations to provide services under the NDIS. That is part of the $12.5 million contributed to the territory by the commonwealth, yet many of the grants have only just been announced in the past week—again at the last minute before this transition begins on 1 July.

Questions need to be asked about the budget impact this decision will have on the government's bottom line. Looking at yesterday's budget papers, the documents in


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