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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 3385 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

I would just like to mention as a final thing, Mr Speaker, that in late November the department advertised a tender for the provision of domestic support - household cleaning, shopping, et cetera - for people who are frail aged or who have a disability. The department intends to purchase services which will maintain or enhance the individual's independence and respond to the domestic support needs identified by clients, while providing the minimum necessary intervention or assessment. I think this summarises the approach of the Government, that we still would like to provide, as far as we can, empowerment of clients with disabilities. Mr Speaker, I thank Mr Wood for bringing this matter of public importance to the attention of the Assembly today.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (4.24): I am very pleased to join this debate. It is a very important issue and one that does not get sufficient attention. People with a disability in our community are often rendered invisible. There are certainly many problematic areas surrounding ACT disability services, as there are in disability services throughout Australia. In reality, they can be broken down into issues affecting disabled individuals, the families of disabled people, carers and others who work in the industry. These areas, however, cannot be separated and they obviously overlap. Priorities that need to be addressed differ depending on who you speak to in the industry, but suffice it to say that there are obviously very many.

The lack of daytime services and accommodation is extremely serious as is the lack of resources and the vertical fiscal imbalance between the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories regarding the funding of disabled employment services and accommodation. At issue here, of course, is the difficulty in delineating lines of responsibility. Currently, the Commonwealth is responsible for funding employment services for the disabled and the States and Territories provide funding for accommodation services. A range of problems invariably arise.

Problems always arise when disabled people lose their employment. Their daytime care then becomes the responsibility of the accommodation providers. I know this is a very real and continuing difficulty in the ACT. Under the current arrangements, there are no adequate provisions for the transfer of funds from the Commonwealth to the States or Territories to deal with these sorts of situations. From the discussions that I have had - and I have had many and varied discussions with service providers over the last few months - this causes no end of problems for those involved in providing sufficient care for unemployed, disabled people.

On the staffing side of the equation, the ongoing inequities surrounding the introduction and implementation of the social and community services award, the SACS award, are causing continuing frustration and great angst within the community sector. Many have spoken on this topic before, and I will not take up any more time on it today, but it is an issue that we must remain focused on in this place.

I will take the opportunity while speaking on this to discuss an annual general meeting that I attended last weekend. I attended the annual general meeting of People First ACT Inc. I am sure my colleagues are aware of People First and the advocacy work that they do for the disabled. Their objectives are to promote and support the dignity, respect, opportunities and human rights of people who are intellectually disadvantaged in order to empower the individual.

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