Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 3 May 2007) . . Page.. 935 ..
governments have to deal with the level of unmet need, growth and demand and we have to adequately index the sector.
This is an expensive sector. It is like the health sector. It cannot be indexed at 1.8 per cent and hold its ground. Indexing at 1.8 per cent means that you are actually cutting services on the ground. The ACT government does not fund at 1.8 per cent. The ACT government indexes at 3.7 per cent. We recognise that indexation needs to be higher in this area.
This is an area where we cannot act alone. We already provide 83 per cent of the funding in the disability sector. We do almost the worst out of any jurisdiction—17c in the dollar. I think Victoria is 16c in the dollar, so it is slightly worse off. We have committed an additional $12 million over the last four budgets, which is well above what we were required to do under CSTDA 3.
According to the report on government services, our expenditure on disability services is just above the national average expenditure on disability services. We have started new services in the community sector. In particular, a new person-centred day-option community service is being established on the north side of Canberra—that started late last year—at just under $2 million over four years. We have provided more resourcing for children and adults who have high and complex needs.
But I meet family after family who are requiring more support. This is not just more people with a disability in our community. It is people with acquired brain injury who are living because of improvements in medical intervention, whereas in years past they would not have lived. It is because our community is ageing and elderly parents who have previously been looking after their children, perhaps for 60 years, are getting too old and need someone to come in and provide support to their family. At the moment Disability ACT is providing about $1.6 million a year in emergency support that is not recurrently funded, for cases that are coming onto our doorstep and people that we need to provide support to.
This is a system that is just holding together. This is despite the large increases from the ACT government. What we want under CSTDA 4 is a fair deal from the commonwealth. We want to have our equity issue addressed. We need a conversation about unmet need. We need a conversation about growth. And we need to make sure that, when we are indexing our agreements, they are indexed at a rate that will not require services to reduce their service based on their indexation growth, even though it would be a cut.
These are tough issues. That is why the ACT government has not agreed to the offer that is on the table from the commonwealth. We will not agree while the deal is as bad as it is. If we agree to the deal today—basically, indexation at growth—we are dudding the ACT community out of what we should rightly get from the commonwealth, which is about an additional $10 million a year.
I look forward to the support of the opposition in lobbying for this extra money. I know that Senator Humphries is behind us. He chaired the committee that called for this. It is about time that those opposite—I think the disability shadow minister is Jacqui Burke—get behind us on this issue and lobby for it as well.