Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 24 August 1995) . . Page.. 1438 ..
DISABILITY SERVICES – REFORM
MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Minister for Health and Community Care): I ask for leave of the Assembly to make a ministerial statement on the reform of disability services in the ACT.
MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, in 1991 the ACT Government passed the ACT Disability Services Act, which set out our legal obligations in relation to people in our community who have disabilities. It also enshrined a set of human rights principles. For everybody's benefit, I will spell out these principles, which are set out in Schedule 2 of the Act. All people with disabilities are individuals who have the inherent right of respect for their human worth and dignity. Whatever their origin, nature, type or degree of disability, people with disabilities have the same basic human rights as other members of society and should be enabled to exercise these basic human rights.
People with disabilities have the same rights as other members of society to realise their individual capacities for physical, social, emotional and intellectual development. Carers of people with disabilities and people with disabilities have the same rights as other members of society to services which will support their attaining a reasonable quality of life. People with disabilities have the same right as other members of society to make, and actively participate in, the decisions which affect their lives and are entitled to appropriate and necessary support to enable participation in, and direction and implementation of, the decisions which affect their lives. They have the same right as other members of society to receive services in a manner which results in the least restriction of their rights and opportunities and have the same right of pursuit of any grievance in relation to services as have other members of our society. People with disabilities who wish to pursue a grievance also have a right to adequate support to enable pursuit of the grievance and the ability to pursue the grievance without fear of discontinuation of service or recrimination from any person or agency who may be affected by, or involved in, the pursuit of the grievance.
Since 1989 there have been a number of reviews of ACT disability services as well as related national reviews, all of which have recommended substantial change to disability service delivery. Part of the Government's election platform and its subsequent creation of the Department of Health and Community Care was to undertake significant reform of services for people with disabilities and to ensure greater program accountability. There is now a general client and community expectation that there will be a substantial improvement in the focus and relevance of government and non-government programs for people with disabilities.
I do not intend to commission yet another review. Instead, I have agreed to implement those recommendations flowing from previous reviews which will provide the ACT with better, more client focused services. I am determined that there be more accountability for these services than at present and that they be delivered within allocated resources.