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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 680 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

start. It is obviously easier for a new government which does not feel it has to protect its past performance. That is why it is important to get it right now-before that tendency could affect the response.

By setting up the Disability Reform Group, the government has, to its credit, given considerable freedom and responsibility to community members. There appears to be a tendency for governments to be afraid of doing this. While I understand there may be some political risks in it, there is the potential for significant benefit for the community, as well as the government, because there is experience and expertise in the community which is not necessarily available in the public service.

I encourage the government to continue to give the community the opportunity to contribute in the way that it did through the Disability Reform Group. I realise that that has now been closed down, and there is a new structure in place. I will talk to that later. However, if there is a willingness to allow that sort of input from community representatives, the confidence of the community in the accountability of the government and the public service is increased.

In the responses of the government and the Disability Reform Group to the Gallop recommendations, I notice there is a lot of agreement. However, the government did not agree to the sections of recommendations 4 or 11 which dealt with particular public servants, including a requirement that they not continue in their present duties, giving Supreme Court findings on procedural fairness as the reason. The Disability Reform Group did not comment, as the executive officers are no longer in those positions.

Recommendation 11-that there should be a separate board for ACT Health and the Community Care Board to manage the disability program-was not agreed to by the Disability Reform Group or the government, although both were supportive of a rearrangement. That included a role for the Disability Reform Group in advising the head of Disability ACT.

There was also some difference in response from the government to the Gallop report on work force issues. Recommendation 18 section (iii)-in particular the question of development of a sector-wide accreditation process for people working in Ageing and Disability Services.

The government supported the current training regime, based on competencies. The Disability Reform Group's response was general to recommendation 18, accepting the need for significant issues to be addressed through development of a work force issues strategy. This is a very important issue and the government needs to ensure this work progresses. People working in the area need to be supported and valued. Professional development is part of this, as is the culture of management.

The Disability Reform Group comments that it is important to invest in people with passion and commitment. These are often the people who, if the culture is not supportive and the service is not respected and resourced properly, will leave.

It is important in this debate to note recommendations 7(iv) and 26. Recommendation 26 deals with external auditing and 7(iv) deals with the introduction of new regulatory and inspection arrangements to review and monitor services for people with a disability.

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