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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 November 2021) . . Page.. 3626 ..


Human bodies and minds come in an amazing and beautiful diversity of shapes and ways of functioning. This diversity gives our collective humanity a broader range of perspectives on every aspect of life, assists us in adapting to our changing world and makes our community more than just the sum of our individual member’s abilities. Disability is a fundamental and necessary facet of human diversity. If we are to practise radical love and to be a truly inclusive society, then we must see disability not simply as a cost to the economy but as a valued aspect of who we are as human beings.

I am glad to note that, in addition to the work undertaken by Minister Berry for a more inclusive public education system, the ACT is also undertaking several pieces of work to realise a vision for the ACT of equality and inclusion across our justice and health systems.

In February 2021, I tabled the 2020 Annual Progress report on the Disability Justice Strategy, noting that it has commenced work on a cultural shift in our justice agencies to increase awareness of the needs of people with disability and identify and implement reasonable adjustments. This has included actions such as adjusting meeting rooms to be suitable for people with sensory needs; reviewing processes and policies through a disability lens; and linking people with advocacy agencies. I am proud that this work has also been undertaken in Youth Justice to contribute to better outcomes for children and young people.

Work is also progressing well on an ACT government disability health strategy, which was developed with people with lived experience of disability, to improve the health system for people with disability and to provide better support to navigate the interface between health and disability service systems. This was an election commitment by both Labor and the Greens.

Inclusion for people with autism benefits all of us. As has been discussed today, there is no doubt that people with autism experience barriers to accessing services in our community. As such, I am glad that the ACT government is progressing important work to ensure that services become more responsive, appropriate and accessible.

Thank you to Mrs Kikkert for raising this issue in the Assembly and for the opportunity to speak about the importance of ensuring better services and support for people with autism in our community. I am always glad to be able to talk about the importance of celebrating diversity.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (3.51): I rise on behalf of the Deputy Chief Minister, Minister Berry, to speak in support of Ms Davidson’s amendment. Like Ms Davidson, I thank Mrs Kikkert for bringing this important conversation to the chamber; but I can advise that the government will not be supporting Mrs Kikkert’s proposed amendment to Ms Davidson’s amendment.

As Mrs Kikkert’s own speech has highlighted, we know that earlier diagnosis allows for earlier intervention, and early support can make an enormous difference in the life


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