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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 121 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

have more ability to make their own decisions. I think that one of the problems we are dealing with, as far as I have been able to tell from the briefing that was provided to me by Mr Humphries before I took on this role and since, is that the involvement in the decision-making at the moment actually creates some of the problems in getting us into the environment.

It may well be that, in order to meet the requirement for urgency in your motion, we will have to take a longer-term approach to how we ensure the empowerment of these individuals. There is no question that the goal of empowerment is fundamental. The goal of deinstitutionalisation is fundamental here. As you would know, Mr Wood, this has been a catchcry of my own election campaign. It is something that I have spoken on in this Assembly on many occasions, and I shall still seek to follow that through.

It seems to me that, at the same time, we need to pursue not just this particular model, as we have done with the Macquarie houses and the Fisher houses, but also other models of deinstitutionalisation. If we are prepared to dedicate what is, effectively, $100,000 to an individual for their care and their empowerment, then it is entirely appropriate that we should be able to look at different, more flexible ways of handling that level of money in order to ensure that individuals can have the best possible care, according to their own wishes. I think that is one of the great challenges we have before us.

So, I welcome this motion. I actually think that the department, in commissioning the Kendrick report, has acted entirely properly. However, the fact that it has taken so long to get to this stage - hence the motivation for the motion - is disappointing. The delay is unacceptable. As my first task as a Minister, I shall seek to resolve this matter as urgently as I can.

MR QUINLAN (11.10): Mr Speaker, I have had some direct contact with the primary carers who look after children and young adults with challenging behaviours and, in fact, with one or two of the parents who have candidate children or candidate dependants for these houses. I have also had some approaches from people within the community service area who are very concerned about the way this project has been managed and its outcome so far. The primary focus, of course, must be on the welfare of the people who are to have places within these houses and the welfare of their primary carers.

Across Canberra, there are many primary carers who receive very minimal or no support while they are carrying a burden more rightly carried by the overall community. Primary carers of candidates for places in COOOL houses have, typically, spent many years coping with challenging behaviours - which is a fairly euphemistic term for a fairly horrific existence from time to time - and they do not deserve to be kept waiting as a result of poor management that has stalled placement. They are people who do not want to see their children or their dependants institutionalised. They are people who want to see the philosophy that is supposedly behind the creation of COOOL houses - and that is the maximisation of living options - realised in respect of their children and their dependants.

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