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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (12 February) . . Page.. 296..

Ministerial responsibility

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services. At what time on 11 December 2003 did the chief executive of the Department of Education, Youth and Family Services advise you that your department had been in breach of the act since May 2000?

MS GALLAGHER: I can check the time that the fax came through. It was some time after lunch. I will check the time that it came through, but it was in the afternoon.

MRS BURKE: I have a supplementary question. What reason were you given for this failure to comply with the law?

MS GALLAGHER: No reason was given in the document. The document simply asked me to note that the department had not met its statutory obligations in regard to advising the Community Advocate of these reports and asked that I note the action in train to address the issue. At the back of the brief there were dot points on measures that are being taken, a meeting that had been had with the Community Advocate on 10 December, and advice that the chief executive had written to the Community Advocate on the same day, I believe, advising that the situation would be corrected and information concerning reports from 1 July 2002 would be provided by the end of February.

Carers policy

MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services. Last week you launched the caring for carers policy, an election commitment that the Stanhope government is now proud to implement. What does this policy mean for the 43,000 carers in the ACT?

MR WOOD: Firstly and primarily it is a recognition. That recognition is important. It is in some senses symbolic, although that symbolism is not the major aim. Carers are typically family members and friends-relatives and the like-who care for someone with a disability in an unpaid capacity. Usually they care for parents or children. It is important that that great amount of work done in the community be recognised. For many years, until fairly recently, it was not acknowledged that so much of that care is done by 40,000 or more people in the ACT. We now put that on the record.

More importantly, to back that up, we introduced a strategy. This strategy will be important as we, in the government and community agencies, provide support for carers. A lot of support is given now, particularly in respite care. But we are now better able to focus on what the community agrees are priorities. We can attend to those priorities. The funding that is already distributed can be looked at carefully. As a result of this, it will be better targeted.

The support we offer is defined in the strategy as needing to be flexible and responsive to individual needs. Obviously, it has to be of a high standard; we recognise that and we will do all that we can to support that. Through this strategy, carers will receive practical

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