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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 2642 ..

Ms Follett: What will they cost?

MR STEFANIAK: I will come to that, Ms Follett. They will be available in geographical locations closer to where parents live or work. The same number of places will be available in 1996 as were provided in 1995, and transport will be made available as necessary.

This is not a savings exercise. It is about providing an opportunity for students from ACT special schools to experience an integrated program. The new approach will offer at least the same level of care as that provided in 1995. In some instances it will be superior, particularly in that more supervised activities will be available to the more physically able. The 1995 program that was conducted at Malkara School earlier in the year catered for a maximum of 60 students. The students eligible were from Malkara, Cranleigh, Turner and Woden schools. Children with the most severe disabilities who require one-to-one supervision were not able to attend the Malkara summer school because the required level of expertise was not available. The parents of these children access care and assistance through other agencies. This situation has not changed with the new arrangements.

The summer school at Malkara was designed as an integrated program for students with disabilities and their families. However, by 12 months ago, only students with disabilities were able to access the program. It was no longer possible to offer the program as an integrated model, and with the movement to integration in our educational settings it is not appropriate to segregate these students during their holiday time. There are a number of holiday programs operating in the community which would be more appropriate for students of all ages. My department advises me that for 1995 almost half the students on the department's summer program at Malkara were also placed in vacation care programs for some of the remaining holiday period. It is in these vacation care programs that my department will be buying places for 1996. In relation to the 1996 program, Mr Speaker, my department is - - -

Mr Connolly: Tell us what you think about it rather than what your departmental brief says.

MR STEFANIAK: I will get to that. My department is reserving 60 places for 10 days in a number of different child-care programs and community groups. Parents will be asked to pay $5 a day. That is a new charge. However, the $5 a day that parents of students with disabilities will be asked to pay compares most favourably with the $20 to $25 a day that parents are usually charged to access these programs. Further to that, a number of parents spoke to the Chief Minister and indicated that they were happy to pay, Ms Follett.

Mr Connolly: I am sure they were!

MR STEFANIAK: They were. Ask her, if you do not believe me. The subsidised places will continue to be made available only to students at special schools. This is because the purpose of the program is to meet the integration needs of students from special schools. As members will understand, we address the needs of students with disabilities in regular schools through their participation in integrated education throughout the school year.

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