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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 685 ..

MR WOOD: (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for the Arts and Heritage and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (5.45), in reply: I close the debate, and I close a period of time in this Assembly when we have fiercely-not today-debated these issues. I find remarkable the circumstances in which I stand right now.

Those of us who are here will know what I mean. This has been one of the most significant issues before the Assembly in recent times. In fact, Mr Berry, Mr Speaker and I are the only ones who will remember some of that fierce early debate, when the benches here and the gallery were filled. The interest was intense.

We wrap up that debate today, and I cannot say the interest is intense. I do not know whether to be sad about that or to congratulate the government, the department and all those who work in it, for the fact of this acceptance today. It suggests to me that what has been happening in the period has been totally accepted by the community, although there are one or two issues remaining. Ms Tucker has mentioned one of those. I would judge that it indicates the success of the process. We were not all happy with the way Gallop handled it, but I believe that what we consequently did was sound. I think that has been shown today.

Perhaps I will get some comment on this. Of the coroner's inquiries into those three deaths, I think there is still one to be reported upon. These things take time, don't they? Ms Dundas was a bit cynical about what has been happening.

Ms Dundas: I was seeking more information.

MR WOOD: I suppose it is your job to be cynical, Ms Dundas, and it is my job to be optimistic. Let me tell you some of what has been happening.

After the tabling, in September, of Steps to Reform, we developed a very significant strategy. In our first budget, there was $2.5 million in extra expenditure. We have been moving forward. We have made significant progress on delivering improved disability services-working in partnership with people with disabilities, their families, carers and supporting community organisations.

You are right-that is essential. It is very important. We have moved quickly to progress the range of initiatives outlined in our response. We have established an innovation fund, designed to encourage families and others to apply for funding between $5,000 and $25,000 to explore initiatives that will result in sustained improvements for people with disabilities.

That was advertised late last year and there has been a great level of interest. There have been two public information sessions and a panel has been formed for evaluation purposes. We expect to allocate those funds in a month or so. We have established five joint community and government working groups to assist Disability ACT, and we will soon appoint a community advisory body. That will be the replacement for both the Disability Reform Group and the advisory council. The groups we have established include housing and tenancy; legislative reform, quality and standards; access; eligibility;

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