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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 4460 ..

MRS CARNELL: Thank you very much, Mr Hird, for the question. Mr Speaker, for some time now the ACT Government has been working with services who have been logged or are likely to be logged under the social and community services, or SACS, award. It has been clear from the outset that what is needed is a long-term approach to managing the introduction of the award and assessing the impact on community service groups. I think Ms Reilly would agree with that. We were also conscious of the need to take a whole-of-government approach, to ensure that our response is both consistent and uniform across all of our agencies.

With this in mind, Mr Speaker, the Department of Education and Training and the Department of Health and Community Care jointly commissioned a detailed consultant's report which examined various classification and costing models for non-government organisations which have been logged under the award. I can also advise the Assembly that representatives from both of these agencies will be participating in a Commonwealth, State and Territory working group which has been established to look at issues surrounding the SACS award more generally.

The Government will continue to seek financial support from the Commonwealth to offset the impact of supplementing the award on the Territory's finances, which, as those opposite will know, could be quite significant if we do not get this right. I realise that these responses are in contrast to the bull-at-a-gate attitude taken by Ms Reilly, who came into this Assembly demanding that the Government simply supplement every organisation for whatever it thought might be appropriate - "Just write the cheque, and the Government will produce the money". As with the issue of mandatory reporting, this Government believes that the Reilly ultimatum of "just write the cheque" would be a recipe for absolute disaster.

I should mention one particular association, the Woden Community Service, because I know that they have been advising Ms Reilly and some parents that they were likely to go under because of the SACS award. I can advise Ms Reilly and other members today that earlier this week the Government agreed to provide the Woden Community Service with non-recurrent funding of $80,000 for this financial year to assist in the transition to the new award. Mr Speaker, $80,000 is not an insignificant amount of support - - -

Ms Reilly: Is it enough to cover the backlog of 12 months?

MRS CARNELL: Ms Reilly is still complaining.

MR SPEAKER: Order! The question was asked by Mr Hird. He is entitled to have an answer.

MRS CARNELL: That is certainly true. Mr Speaker, $80,000 is a not insignificant amount of support from the same Government that Ms Reilly claims is turning its back on the community sector. I tell you that $80,000 does not look to me like we are turning our back. What it means is that this Christmas, like all other Christmases, it will be business as usual for the Woden Community Service, which will be able to run their normal respite care, recreation and other programs to help individuals and their carers in our community.

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