Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 3381 ..
MR WOOD (continuing):
place whereby services can be provided without one needing to have the privilege of being able to see the Minister. Mr Moore earned some kudos this year, when the budget showed increases in expenditure for mental health. In future years I hope that he will earn kudos for increases in services to the disabled, when there is increased funding there.
Some weeks ago the Assembly's Health and Community Care Committee agreed to take on an inquiry into the needs of respite care in the ACT. We have agreed now on the terms of reference for that, and I will be making a statement on that in this Assembly tomorrow. That inquiry is in response to persistent arguments that there is simply an inadequate availability of resources in the community for all those people who need respite care - the aged, infirm, disabled, troublesome - and the people who care for them as well.
That is an important inquiry. I hope that we can come up with instances where we can highlight the needs and perhaps challenge Mr Moore and others to see whether those needs can be met. In that committee inquiry, in all the responses to the problems of disability, we must supply the many needs. We must provide the support for those living in the most difficult circumstances that will help to make us a truly caring community.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (4.08): Mr Speaker, I am delighted that Mr Wood has raised this matter of public importance and I appreciate the positive comments he made about the way I dealt with two specific cases that were brought to me by Mr Wood and Mr Rugendyke. Those cases were, of course, at the desperate end, Mr Speaker. Mr Wood is quite correct when he says that it would be inappropriate to link access to resources with access to the Minister. Indeed, the resources in this particular case have been provided temporarily while we are waiting for another problem to be resolved.
But that need is a real need, Mr Speaker. We know that approximately 128 individuals in the ACT are seeking support. Seventy-five individuals are seeking the provision of an individual support package, and 34 individuals are currently receiving respite care through the ACT Community Care Disability Services Program. These people are expected to be seeking accommodation support within the next 12 to 36 months. Mr Wood, that is why I would ask you to support me in proceeding with the sale of ACTEW. It is this need and these sorts of issues that we are trying to address in dealing with our operating loss, in dealing with gains, and in dealing with the wherewithal to be able to meet this sort of need. The only way we can meet this sort of need is to have financial access.
Mr Quinlan: Tacky, Michael.
MR MOORE: Mr Quinlan interjects that it is tacky. Yes, in some ways it probably seems tacky to raise that issue in this debate. But it is only when we have the appropriate wherewithal that we can actually deal with these issues, when we have the money to deal with them, because there is a need for increased expenditure in this area and, Mr Wood, we have to find the money somewhere.
The ACT Disability Services Act 1991 is an important piece of legislation, in that it sets out to safeguard the rights of people with a disability. It does four things. It establishes objectives, it defines "disability", it defines who can be funded to provide services,