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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3618 ..

Individual support packages

MR OSBORNE: My question is to Mr Moore-I have had a discussion with him so he knows it is going to be asked. Minister, I have been approached by and have had some phone calls from people who have advised me that some people with a disability are finding that their individual support packages, ISPs, are inadequate. Have you been approached to increase any of these ISPs? If so, can you tell me what the situation is with this program?

MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, disability services, as members would be aware, are being examined by Justice Gallop, and I am being careful to make sure that I do not pre-empt any of his findings. Certainly, some people have put to his inquiry that we ought to move to a complete system of individual support packages instead of the current mix we have of individual support packages, group homes and people being funded in generic terms.

There are some people who are most effectively dealt with by individual support packages. But I have to say that a number of approaches have been made to me recently, some of which have been through Mr Wood, who has a particular interest in and has taken a personal approach to this area. Some of the individual support packages are over $200,000 each, so we are talking about very large sums of money.

Mr Speaker, it does not surprise me that people find that individual support packages turn out to be inadequate. This is because the cost of services change, expectations change and a range of other things change. I have to say that if we were to change the system of individual support packages, whoever is standing in my place and whoever has this responsibility will have extraordinary difficulty in meeting the budgetary requirements.

What invariably happens is that people, having been assessed as being suitable for an individual support package, find that they are not able to do what they expect to do with that package. Most people would say, "Look, $200,000 a year, even to somebody with a particularly severe disability, would seem to be an extraordinary amount of money." In fact, when that level of money is managed in a coordinated way you can often wind up delivering far better services.

Mr Speaker, I think the approaches that have come to me recently indicate one of the problems with individual support packages. I think it is important for us to keep in mind that although they do provide one solution, and for some people the only solution, generally I think it is a system that is terribly overrated.

MR OSBORNE: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, are you able to tell us how many people access ISPs and how much money it costs each year? You may have to take this question on notice until tomorrow.

MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, I will take that question on notice and hopefully either come back tomorrow or, in accordance with new standing order 118 (a), come up with an appropriate explanation.

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