Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 March 2005 2005) . . Page.. 682 ..
The Gallop report itself called for quite a massive change in the approach of disability services in the ACT. Looking at this report on implementation, I am pleased to note there is a commitment to exploring a range of ways of delivering support to people in a more individuated and a more empowered way. The way the goals of this service are defined from individual service packages at a program level to the Challenge 2014 vision document, that takes its direction from the disability reform group set up by the ACT government, really tries to put in the foreground the expectations of people with disabilities.
On the other hand, despite this commitment to a different vision, the level of respect or responsiveness often seems to be missing in nursing homes and in the delivery of services. A case in point is the recent story in the Canberra Times of Canberra resident David Lazarus, trapped in an aged persons nursing home in Queanbeyan, with the ACT government, who is responsible for him, unable to help. Figures from the Australian government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website show that David Lazarus is not alone in his predicament.
The proportion of people under 65 in aged care facilities in the ACT has gone up from less than 3 per cent to 3.6 per cent between June 2001 and June 2003, an increase of more than 25 per cent. The proportion of male residents under 65 was 7.5 per cent in June 2003 and, from anecdotal evidence, it looks as though the numbers will continue to grow.
Sally Richards, who is a parent of a very disabled young person, wrote to the Canberra Times in response to that article on 3 March to argue that policies are not delivering what they promised and that the comment by disability services minister John Hargreaves “The policies and funding we have in place are addressing the long-term needs of disability clients” is simply not true. Mrs Richards wrote:
Just because you say it doesn’t make it true …
The long-term needs of people with a disability in the ACT are far from being met, and neither are the short-term needs.
In addition to pointing out that only a quarter of applicants for individual support packages were successful, she reminded us that the level of unmet need is actually much higher.
Many people did not apply for support—
and I am quoting from her letter—
because they did not find out about the ISPs, there are culture or language barriers, they were younger than 16, or they had personal reasons such as privacy issues, illness and/or exhaustion.
Before calling for the government to make good its promises to people with disabilities, Mrs Richardson made the point: