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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 684 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

place by December 2003, which is still a fair while off. It will then be at least two years since the Gallop report was tabled, and a long time since the government response was tabled.

I recognise that it takes a while to get these things in place, but the Gallop inquiry went on for a time and these issues have been around for a number of years. It is important for the community to be confident that the government is moving to make the things it agrees to a reality-that we do have a whole-of-government approach today in working with people with disabilities-that they do not have their needs marginalised in one area but working across the service.

We will also await the 2003-04 budget for the implementation of a number of the key recommendations from the Gallop report and the government response. The government response acknowledged that a number of recommendations will be considered in the budget context.

We, in this place, all acknowledge that there have been some significant events impacting on the budget since the government put down its response to the Gallop report. However, within those constraints, we need to remember that this is a sector that has been crying out for support for a number of years now-and their needs will not go away just because we had bushfires. Their needs need to be addressed, if we are to move into a future where we do not suffer the problems that led to the Gallop inquiry in the first place.

I would like to touch on the issue of early intervention programs and strategies for children with disabilities. That was one of the first issues I raised in this chamber, and one I am still keen to see progression on.

In the past financial year, the government allocated money to expand services for children with autism in the ACT. I understand there has been much work on a new program for allocation of resources to children with disabilities in schools. There have been a number of concerns about that process, which unfortunately flagged to the community that maybe things were not progressing in the way they should-in that those concerns were not being addressed.

I acknowledge that the government has stated it has a strong commitment to this area. Thankfully, its response includes the word "agreed"a number of times. That is always positive to see after such a long inquiry, but we do need the confidence that these words are being turned into action. Six months later, we have not seen-or that not I recall-a six-month implementation report, and we are still awaiting a whole lot of information that the government flagged in its response.

The key test put down by Justice Gallop was the need to engage people living with a disability in the services they require, and elect to use, and to integrate them with the general community. That is still the key goal the government and this Assembly must have in working on the area of disability reform.

I await more information and call for concrete action to progress the area of disability reform in the ACT.

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