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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4328 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

I would like to hear from government that there will be equivalent lower needs-level care provided in the same location by non-government organisations. The locality is important because, as some of the personal stories described in the media show, the success of these services is based on convenience. Importantly, community locations are not transportable quite so easily.

It seems clear from the public reaction of people using the services, and their carers, and from the reaction being seen by services such as Carers ACT, that the government did not explain the outcome and the reasoning for the outcome, nor provide support for people to adjust to the change that this involved. They failed to work with the people affected and with the services which support them to ensure that the change has as little negative impact as possible. This has unfortunately resulted in great confusion and anxiety.

Some people feel that the information they gave in the belief that it would improve the service they used and that they felt a part of, has, in the end, been used against them. That is very unfortunate because, as I have said, I understand that this change in policy is ultimately going to be in the interests of people needing the care in the future.

I believe that if the process of change had included getting back to the people consulted for the review, if it had included openly discussing this as a way of making the best use of our resources and providing the high-needs services which we know we have a huge and increasing need for, if work had been done with the services that support the carers to ascertain what kind of support would be needed to make the transition easier, then we would not have had nearly as much anxiety and upset.

I understand, too, that although the review process gathered a lot of information from individual carers and people who are cared for, workers and unions, it did not approach Carers ACT. Carers ACT, of course, support many carers in the ACT. Among other things, they provide counselling to carers and they now report that the counsellors are helping people who are confused and anxious and feeling that their contribution to this consultation has been used against them. This means that there has been real harm done.

I thank Mr Cornwell for raising this issue, but I do not agree that there should be another review. The government is belatedly, it seems, offering to work with the people affected. As much as possible needs to be done to ease the trauma caused by this flawed process. I hope that in future when changes like this are planned the government will work more intelligently with the community to make the change together.

MR CORNWELL (9.36), in reply: I thank members for their contribution. I believe that the Chief Minister's comments-and he is the only member on the government side who has participated in the debate tonight, which could be significant-

Mr Stanhope: How many are over there, Greg?

MR CORNWELL: You are the one who is defending, my friend, not me. It was a rather clinical response. I must say that your comments, sir, in relation to why you are moving people from Narrabundah and Dickson to Belconnen and Tuggeranong really didn't convince me because I feel that the facilities that apparently exist in these new locations could be provided just as well at Narrabundah and Dickson.

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