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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 3024 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

I would like also to comment briefly on some other concerns in the response of the Government. Although there is in-principle agreement that the provision of school and holiday programs for adolescents with a disability as recommended by the Dell report is necessary, there is no money for this in the budget. This is not a new issue and it is about time there was action. On the question of services to people with disabilities more generally - we have already had discussion this morning on that, again - the committee will be monitoring what is going on in this area. I think it is important that a copy of the report that will be presented to Cabinet is also made available to the Social Policy Committee. I look forward to working with the Government on this in the next year.

As far as community consultation is concerned, the Government's rhetoric and practice of consultation are often quite different. We are watching with interest the development of the local area planning advisory committees. I commend the Government on taking up the Greens' suggestion to offer experienced facilitators from the community development network to these committees to assist in the development of awareness guidelines. I was present as an observer at one of these meetings and noticed how it did set a very different tone for the meeting. It is challenging for a group of community representatives who have never worked together before and who may have quite different world views to come up with recommendations regarding planning issues. If it works, it is a big step forward.

Critical to this issue, of course, is the lack of an overall strategic plan for the ACT. It is easy to blame the community if the process fails, but governments must acknowledge that the work is all the more difficult if there is a policy vacuum. This may be seen solely as a planning issue, but there are very important social policy implications as well. Despite this initiative, the ACT is still lacking a holistic strategy for community consultation. If we are to take this issue seriously it must be coordinated and strategic, and I remind members again that the Social Policy Committee has prepared a discussion paper on this issue and we do welcome input.

In the Government's response to this report there is also little detail on the management review of all ACT government committees and advisory councils. We do not know what the criteria are, whether the Social Policy Committee will be consulted, or when the results will be known. In conclusion, Mr Speaker, I would like to say that the committee looks forward to monitoring the Government's progress in the area of social policy and I hope we will be given the opportunity to be involved in a constructive manner in ongoing deliberations and discussion on social policy issues.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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