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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2010) . . Page.. 2235 ..

A debate like this one today is the bread and butter of ACT government and politics. The way parties deal with this debate tells us a lot about their real political identity. What we see today from the Liberals is oppose, oppose, oppose—a party of constant opposition, at risk of becoming a party of permanent opposition.

The reforms to the commonwealth-territory funding, growth in both funding and demand, wider community priorities and the balance between public and non-government provision are the issues that we are grappling with today. The government’s approach is practical and progressive. We have been given an opportunity by the commonwealth to deliver on our priorities in disability education funding.

We have consulted widely with the community through the Shaddock review. We have listened to the community’s priorities, helping students in years 9 and 10 get ready for work and life, supporting individual learning plans and teaching about sexual health. These are the areas where the non-government sector can make the greatest difference because these are the areas where the public sector needs the most help. We are opening a tender to allow non-government organisations to deliver therapy services for the community’s priorities.

Changing priorities is not always easy and not every service can be guaranteed funding forever. But there is more funding than ever before in disability education and we are listening to the community and delivering on their priorities.

It is interesting that in the context of the media coverage of this particular issue I have received correspondence, as I understand other members have, including Mr Doszpot, in relation to the programs that are provided by the department. David Lovell and Rachel Tyson wrote to you, Mr Doszpot, also to Mr Seselja and Mr Hanson, outlining their support for the programs that are offered by the ACT government and expressing their concern that the articles and the media coverage had the potential to give decision makers an unrepresentative and unbalanced appreciation of the department’s services. (Time expired.)

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra-Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (11.20): I thank Mr Doszpot for bringing this motion forward today. The two not-for-profit community organisations, that is, Noah’s Ark and the Shepherd Centre, provide very important services in the ACT, particularly for children with disabilities.

The Shepherd Centre seeks to enable children who are deaf and hearing impaired, from birth to five years of age, to develop spoken language so that they may fully participate in the hearing world and in so doing reach their full potential. They assist children to learn to listen and speak with hearing aids or cochlear implants and provide elementary verbal therapy support, audiology, family support services, integration playgroups and education for the family on hearing issues. The aim is that children will enter their local mainstream schools in a fully integrated environment. This goal is achieved for over 90 per cent of children at the centre.

The Shepherd Centre has five centres operating across New South Wales and the ACT and has assisted over 1,500 families since it was established. I understand that it is

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