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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 686 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

funding; and work force issues. They have been meeting regularly since they were established last year.

The establishment of these groups I think is a great achievement. I think Ms Tucker mentioned keeping that communication going with people of expertise in the community. There are very few examples of such extensive and direct community participation anywhere. There are more than 70 people participating in those working groups. Importantly, we intend to provide relevant training in the policy development process. Project management skills will be provided to members to build the capacity of the groups to contribute effectively to their tasks.

We have recently allocated $1 million in additional funding to 22 individuals with a disability with high and complex needs. That will allow them to access support services they require from the community organisation of their choice. That represents, as everybody wanted as an outcome of the report, the deliberate movement towards a more person-centred approach to the support of people with a disability.

The Disability Advisory Council and the DRG completed their terms at the end of February. In their place a new community advisory body is being established that will incorporate the responsibility of both those organisations. People with a disability and their families will be strongly represented on that body, along with community representatives. It is not going to be easy to pick that group. There are many people of great skill that I would like to put on it. We have more people to pick from than we have places for.

Access to disability information, support and services in the ACT is one of our key initiatives. In December last year, Disability ACT and the DRG held a public forum titled "Finding Your Way", to discuss access issues and options. Visiting speakers from Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory discussed their experiences. Attendees were provided with other information outlining successful access initiatives in countries around the world. It is a very important theme we are pushing-access, variety and flexibility. The forum was convened as an education and information session-better to inform the public, as well as the government. Further community consultations will be held later this year.

With regard to the review of community advocacy and statutory oversight agencies, a public forum facilitated by ACTCOSS was held late last year to discuss the terms of reference. I would say this remains one of the issues of interest in the community. That forum was well attended and gave good feedback. Following the selection of suitably qualified consultants, the review will be publicly announced and community participation encouraged.

Ms Tucker asked if we were going to have a community reference panel. No, we will not, but part of the requirements for that consultant was to consult extensively with the community. So I believe there will be no problem in that area.

Disability ACT is also instituting a number of organisational improvements to enhance the quality and standard of direct support services-what we are doing internally. These will seek to strengthen relationships with families by developing partnerships and improving communication processes; to develop flexible support arrangements to better

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