Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 13 Hansard (3 December) . . Page.. 4344 ..
MS REILLY (continuing):
There are two issues I would like to talk about. The first is in relation to families who have within their family someone with a disability, and the second is access to employment. Many of you, I am sure, would have seen the family book which has been produced by the ACT Council on Intellectual Disability. This book has been distributed throughout the community and there will be a meeting tonight to discuss further issues. This book is a collection of family stories. The only thing in common for these families is that one member has a particular intellectual disability for which they need extra assistance.
These stories are quite beautiful as they tell of the love and strength of these families and how they work hard to maintain their lives. But these stories also illustrate all too much the gaping holes in services for people with disabilities in this ACT community, how hard these families work to care for their children who need additional support, and how few services are available to assist them to take part in normal day-to-day activities which many families can do without thought, such as simple things like going on holidays, simple trips to the shops, or going for a picnic. Many of these families and many of these parents are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with little or no time off, and nothing envisaged in the future either. It is difficult to read these stories and not be awed by the strength of these families, particularly the women, the mothers of these children.
For a number of these children, as they grow and finish school, obviously one of the important things is access to employment. I think for all of us work is important. It is one of the ways that we have purposes for our lives. It is part of our identity. But, with the changes in employment services that are provided by the Commonwealth and with the possibility of disability employment services going to the States, there is going to be less opportunity for people with disabilities to access employment. Also, they will not be part of the mainstream of employment services. They will be marked out, discriminated against as people with disability, rather than just people who are looking for a job. Remember that having a job is so important to all of us.
People who have worked in workplaces with people with special needs or special support services know how successful these can be. They know of the many wonderful parts that these people play in workplaces. I think it will be very sad if these opportunities are taken away and we do not have workplaces that incorporate these people. People with disability have the same rights as all other Australians and we should be working hard to ensure they can have them.
MR WHITECROSS (Leader of the Opposition) (4.40): Mr Speaker, I rise today to reflect on the busy time the Liberal Party had last weekend at their annual convention. It made for some interesting reading and listening to the radio yesterday morning when the president, Brian Nye, was explaining all the good things they had got up to.