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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 3394 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Nevertheless, I have met and gotten to know quite a number of people with disabilities, their case managers, their primary carers and the support workers that work at the sharp end. I have to say that I have been encouraged by what I have seen.

I have seen the commitment of the support organisations, the NGOs, the people in them and, in fact, the commitment of some of the departmental officers who work directly with the NGOs. I have been encouraged by the courage of primary carers. It is a sad commentary on my gender that the great majority of primary carers are women. Those primary carers looking after children, who are women, quite often do it by themselves because there has been a family break-up, possibly because the member of my gender could not take the heat.

I have been encouraged by the actual courage of the people themselves. I will personally mention one - a young lady called Wendy Whelan - who is profoundly disabled but has more courage and determination than anybody I have ever met. She was not always a compliant recipient of service. She was an independent young woman and wanted to control her life. It was pleasing to see the progress made in the development of support services where there was a need, under recommendations by Michael Kendrick, to move away from maternalistic or paternalistic case management and do-gooders towards the empowerment of primary carers and the empowerment of people with disabilities. This was designed to support and complement the capabilities of people with disabilities and to give the primary carers information and negotiation support when and if they needed it. But the progress was towards that empowerment.

I am rather concerned that, as funds appear to shrink, this progress may be halted and even reversed. I have to concur with you, Mr Wood, that there is a great danger that squeaky wheels will get more service than those that do not know about service. During the time I spent working directly with Respite Care I knew that the organisation was afraid to advertise. It was afraid that, if it advertised to let people know it was around, it could not handle the avalanche of requests that would follow that advertising. Yet the people that worked there cared enough to know that they wanted to reach the priority cases. They wanted to ensure that the most deserving cases got the service they required. The meagre service - because demand has always exceeded supply, as far as I have seen - was made available in order of priority.

Debate interrupted.


MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! It being 5 o'clock, I propose the question:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.

Mr Moore: I require the question to be put forthwith without debate.

Question resolved in the negative.

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