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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 4449 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

people living in our territory. He has just spoken quite eloquently on how public housing is an important part of the social development of our community.

We know that our stock of public housing has declined both in number and quality under successive Labor and Liberal governments. We all have a job to do in this Assembly to keep the issue of public housing on the agenda and to work collaboratively to increase the funding available for public housing, be that through the array of ideas that have been put forward in this debate. I hope, as I said, that we will be able to keep this issue on the agenda and actually progress it between now and 2008 when the asset management strategy will need to be reviewed.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Commonwealth/State/Territory Disability Agreement

Ministerial statement

Debate resumed from 26 August 2003, on motion by Mr Wood:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

MRS BURKE (5.08): Mr Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the coming into effect of the latest agreement between the Commonwealth, states and territories dealing with the provision of a wide range of disability services. There is no doubt that many negotiations of this type can be protracted, particularly because so many parties are involved, as the minister will probably attest to. Nevertheless, it is gratifying that a positive outcome has been achieved on this occasion.

From the perspective of the ACT, the Commonwealth will provide almost $39.4 million over five years from July 2002 for the provision of services to people with disabilities. This agreement continues the cooperation between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments in pursuit of a just and inclusive society. The funding that will support the policies, programs and services that are inherent in this agreement is critical to promoting the rights and the equality of opportunity of people with disabilities.

Importantly, the focus of these policies, programs and services is on enhancing the dignity of people with disabilities to reinforce their place within our modern society. There is no question that communities are enriched by the effective inclusion of people with disabilities and that the gifts and capabilities of people with disabilities, including those who have quite profound disabilities that require high levels of support, should be fully recognised and utilised.

An important issue that I want to highlight as we consider the implementation of this agreement is the assistance that is available to the carers of people with disabilities. One of the critical issues facing us as a community at present is the way in which we treat the carers of people with disabilities, the many people who live with this responsibility for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. The commitment of these people is not questioned, but we must recognise the cost of this commitment in terms of the quality of life of these carers.

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