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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 117 ..


MR WOOD (10.51): Mr Speaker, I move:

That this Assembly calls on the Government, as a matter of urgency, to locate the proposed residents into the completed but vacant Canberra's Own Options of Living (COOOL) houses in Fisher.

Mr Speaker, this is a short, clear motion. The proposed residents have waited for too long. They have hoped to move for too long. And now they have despaired for too long. Let me tell any members who are unaware of Canberra's Own Options of Living project that it is a project to relocate younger disabled people from nursing homes, where they should not be, to appropriate accommodation so that they may live as normally as their disability will allow. It is an important project. It is well conceived. Indeed, it was conceived as long ago as 1994. There is already one part of the project up and running in houses at Macquarie. There has been an unacceptable delay in opening two homes, for eight people, in a second facility at Fisher. That was finished, I think, about five months ago. Most people - certainly, the proposed residents - would have expected that it would have been finished on one day and people would have been moving in pretty much on the next day.

I want to thank Mr Moore for his offer of a briefing which he made to me yesterday afternoon. I regret that, in the timeframe of my diary, it simply was not possible to fit that in. I do have the advantage of having read an independent report, commissioned by the department, from Michael Kendrick and the response to that report by the Department of Health and Community Care and by other people concerned. I want to thank Mr Humphries, the former Minister, for his rapid dissemination of that report.

Mr Humphries: And offer of a briefing.

MR WOOD: Yes, and offer of a briefing. So, what is the problem? How could such a well-conceived and well-intentioned idea have gone off the rails? The review lists a number of strengths, including, notably - and I use the words in the review in my terms - ample funds and also no attempt to penny-pinch, although I think there is still some argument over resourcing. The report also points to widespread goodwill, to broad commitment from a great number of people and groups, to effective and wide participation, and to consultation. So, one would expect that there would be all the ingredients for success.

Yet the review also contains most severe criticisms. Judging by the response, those criticisms have generally been accepted by the Government, or by the department, whichever. The main criticism, in one of the headings, reads:

The mishandling of the COOOL Project by the Department of Health and Community Care.

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