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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3715 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Report of the Board of Inquiry into Disability Services-Second Six Monthly report, dated September 2003.

I seek leave to make a statement.

Leave granted.

MR STANHOPE: Today it is my pleasure, on behalf of Mr Wood, to table the second six-monthly progress report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Board of Inquiry into Disability Services in the ACT. Mr Speaker, working in partnership with the disability sector, we continue to make significant progress with advancing the substantial disability reform agenda mapped out in the government's response to the recommendations of the Board of Inquiry into Disability Services.

The significant progress in implementing the reform agenda has been undertaken with the commitment and input of the many members of the various working groups established to address the key areas of access, eligibility and funding for services, service quality and standards, appropriate housing models and tenancy arrangements, a sector-wide work force strategy, and legislative reform. Importantly, these working groups have joint community and government participation and have a community member appointed as a co-chair. In total, there are over 50 community representatives on the working groups and the Disability Advisory Council.

The reform process has not been undertaken by the government and within the working groups alone. There has been direct community involvement through the work of the former Disability Reform Group and a series of public forums conducted by RPR Consulting. The channels of communication will continue to remain open and accessible to all people involved in the disability sector.

Mr Speaker, in terms of tangible reform changes and improvements, we have finalised the structure of Disability ACT into three teams: policy and planning; sector development and support; and individual support services. Disability ACT, in close cooperation with the Disability Advisory Council, has successfully launched an access to government audit kit that will enable government departments to identify and address barriers preventing people with a disability from accessing their services. All ACT departments are required to conduct audits, develop action plans and report progress against these plans in their 2004-05 annual reports.

Disability ACT has also successfully introduced long-awaited amendments to the taxi subsidy scheme which increase the subsidies available to eligible people with a disability and ensure that funding is targeted at those with the most need. Disability ACT has visited every non-government agency in the ACT with which Disability ACT has a service purchasing agreement to discuss with the service providers any problems they may be experiencing under the current agreements and reach a resolution on how those problems may be addressed. All of the 36 agreements due for renewal have been renewed, while an additional three agreements continue under their current conditions.

Disability ACT has also assisted with the initiation of six projects under the innovation grants fund following a comprehensive evaluation process involving 49 applications for funding. Disability ACT is currently piloting a number of client-focused initiatives,

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