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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 November 2021) . . Page.. 3217 ..

Minister for Mental Health) (10.51): I thank Minister Stephen-Smith for her response and thank Mr Davis again for bringing this important motion to this place.

Many of us in the ACT have just started to return to offices, schools and universities, and social gatherings after three of the most challenging months in the last two years, but there are many who cannot safely do this yet, including older Canberrans, people with disability, and carers. It is important that we continue to support and include everyone in our community, even if they cannot always be with us in person.

I would like to acknowledge the incredible efforts of the community sector in all it has done to support the Canberra community through this time. Our community sector organisations have contributed enormously to government understanding of where the greatest needs are in our community, what we can do to support those most at risk, and delivering vital services.

With my ministerial responsibilities for mental health, disability, seniors, veterans and their families, carers, the health and wellbeing of people in the justice system and in youth justice, as well as food relief and social recovery, I have had the privilege of listening to our community sector organisations advocate with strength and love for those most at risk from both the health and economic impacts of this pandemic.

I would particularly like to thank some of the community sector organisations who have taken the time to share with me what their members and clients are experiencing and provide constructive advice on how we can support our community—Carers ACT, Health Care Consumers Association and National Disability Services, and disability support provider organisations, including Focus ACT and Hartley Lifecare, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, COTA ACT, ADACAS, Advocacy for Inclusion, Hepatitis ACT, CatholicCare, Multicultural Hub, YWCA Canberra, and many others too numerous to list, including through webinars organised by the Community Services Directorate with the disability sector, older Canberrans, NGOs generally and ministerial advisory councils.

Canberra’s community sector have demonstrated how they can move quickly to respond to challenges, have existing relationships of trust with their clients and great community networks which can operationalise services quickly. They have been invaluable partners in delivering food relief through assisting with meals in Housing ACT’s Condamine Court and Ainslie Village, and phone and internet access and activity packs to assist with the requirement to quarantine.

This partnership between ACT government and the community sector was called on again to provide support to people who were not able to quarantine safely at home, providing safe accommodation, food and other material needs, as well as supporting sometimes very complex health and wellbeing needs. Additionally, NGOs have been working closely with the Community Services Directorate to provide support to our multicultural community, particularly households quarantining due to a positive COVID contact.

The ACT government’s Office for Disability also provided much-needed support in partnership with National Disability Services to support disability support providers

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