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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3921 ..

MS McRAE (continuing):

They have invited me, along with quite a range of other people, to their meeting on 11 December. As usual, I will be writing to the Minister, seeking his advice on the issues that they raise, so that when I attend the meeting I am well informed. But it seemed to me to be a great pity that this morning my reasonable plea was not heeded and that on the very day we have the debate these letters are there in our in-trays. This underlies the great level of concern that there is about these initiatives and, therefore, the amount of work that does have to be done by the Department of Education and the Minister. I sincerely hope that the Minister has read this letter; that he will have the reference ready for me when I ask him for the information; and that he well and truly has answers to all these questions, in light of this debate today. Otherwise, at least one school community which has invited quite a few others will be gravely disappointed.

Disability Services - Private Sector Staff

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Minister for Health and Community Care) (5.00): Mr Speaker, I rise to speak on an issue of very great importance. In fact, it is of particularly great importance to one small business in the ACT. Yesterday in the house, Ms Tucker used the name of a small business agency - and I am sure everyone would agree that that is not terribly fair - without giving that agency an opportunity to respond. She went on at length suggesting that this agency provided untrained staff to Disability Services; that they used staff that were just out of school and people without drivers licences; and that some members of staff had refused to use the agency because they were so dissatisfied. There is a litany of comments about a small business in this town, run by two very enterprising Canberra nurses. It goes on at length, but to quote it back into Hansard now would just reiterate the comments that were made.

Mr Speaker, I have here a letter from Michelle's Home Care and Nursing Agency which attaches letters from Mirinjani Nursing Home and Lower Jindalee and from some staff members who work for Michelle's. It also runs through Michelle's training program. Remember Ms Tucker yesterday suggested that they did not have any training programs. This letter runs through at length the quite impressive training program that Michelle's puts people through before sending them out to Disability Services. It also goes through the agency's code of ethics and their conduct, right through to the sort of information that they give their staff when their staff come on board, shall we say.

Mr Speaker, this business was set up in 1994 by, as I said, two very enterprising Canberra women. It is a business that has grown quite significantly. As you can see from this letter, it has been used by a large number of nursing homes, by private individuals and, obviously, by Disability Services - a very good mixture of both government and public sector organisations, all of which, obviously, would use them again. They would not be growing if they were not doing a very good job. I table that, for the interest of members.

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