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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 3391 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

That is not good enough, Mr Deputy Speaker. Despite what government members have said about the funding problems they are experiencing, I believe it is a basic responsibility of government to care for those who are unable to care for themselves and who are vulnerable. I believe that there are decisions which can be made and priorities can be reassessed. I think that government, through its budget decisions, shows that it does not respect or value the contribution that these people make. If government does not support the vulnerable people in our community, it is failing in its responsibilities.

There is incredibly bad buck-passing between the Federal Government and local government which does credit to neither. The reality is that too many people in the ACT who have a disability or who care for someone with a disability feel marginalised and unsupported. Since my committee inquiry in the last Assembly and the health commissioner's report, I acknowledge that some improvements have been made to how services are being delivered. I acknowledge also that there has been a reworking of how mental health services are delivered. I agree with Mr Moore that this is an issue that needs to be included in any discussion on disability. However, those reforms have been mainly organisational and I do not believe they have been supported adequately by resources.

We do need to see an increase in support options for accommodation. We need to see an increase in availability of respite care options, employment opportunities, daytime support, holiday care, after-school care and educational opportunities. The issues around dual diagnosis are not properly acknowledged - that is, dual diagnosis of mental illness and intellectual disability or some other disability. Advocacy functions are also poorly supported. Quality assurance mechanisms have not been appropriately developed yet, and input from consumers still has not been integrated well enough into the processes around decision-making and policy development in this area.

I am also concerned about the current Commonwealth-State Disability Agreement. I believe that the legislation that is in place to ensure the rights of people with a disability is being diminished in its ability to affect what is happening in service delivery and in overall treatment of people with a disability.

Another issue is transport. We have what I think is called the draft transport strategy. Certainly, there is a Federal discussion going on now about transport issues for people with a disability. I know there was a survey done on that and over 6,000 people with disabilities responded, which is a very clear indication of the importance of this matter of transport to people with disabilities.

What is clear is that the issue of access is extremely reliant on accessible public transport, basically because it is obvious that many people with a disability will not be able to drive a car. Of course, there are broader benefits to the community if there is transport that is designed to accommodate such people because it will also help other people in the community - the elderly, the ill and young people. It is a fundamental issue of access that, once again, has not received appropriate treatment by the Federal Government. I hope that Mr Moore will strenuously lobby his colleagues in the Federal domain to respond positively to the draft standards on transport that I believe are being discussed at the moment.

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