Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 4453 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
because the surplus they had left over from the SACS award implementation funding is about to run out. I understand that next month 31 families will go back onto the waiting list for respite care and by January a total of about 100 Canberra families which have been assessed as in need of respite care will be on a waiting list and in the meantime will have no access to respite support.
I would like to provide an actual example of an affected family. It is of one with a blind two-year-old daughter with severe developmental delay and currently no speech. The family has three other children, aged six years, five years, and five months. The mother has post-natal depression and exhaustion and the father must be away from Canberra for extended periods because of his work, which leaves the mother with very little support. The only support they have been able to access is the three hours of respite care they receive each week through FaBRiC, but they are set to lose this small amount of support next month due to a lack of funds.
That is one family that has approached my office. I am sure members have heard many other tragic stories of families trying to access respite care. In contrast, the disability services that the federal government wholly funds, such as disability employment services, are comparatively well-resourced. The real challenge is in getting the federal and ACT governments to utilise these services to get more people integrated into their work forces.
I think we all understand that disability support is expensive, but we have been informed that the department will be focusing on trying to deliver support to higher needs clients more efficiently to free up resources to support lower needs clients. I understand that it will be quite a challenge to achieve that.
I would like to congratulate the minister on achieving a funding outcome that delivers an increase in Commonwealth funding for disability support over the next four years and again I commend the minister for winning a substantial increase in funding from ACT revenue, but I hope that he will seek to address the acute need for additional respite care for carers in the very near future and that we will see more people with disabilities coming into the work force so that they can earn their own way.
MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and Minister for Arts and Heritage) (5.26), in reply: I thank members for their contributions. There were several common themes, not surprisingly.
Ms Tucker and Mrs Burke commented that it took a while to reach agreement. I cannot tell you exactly how long, but it took over a year, I think. We had the combined might of six states and two territories lined up against the impregnable fortress of the Commonwealth government and-I say this nicely-Amanda Vanstone. We argued for over a year, as I recall, on the need for more Commonwealth assistance, saying, "Come on, you're raking in all this GST. How about giving us a bit?"I do not think that we got one concession. In the end, after extensions and arguments, we signed up.
I suppose states and territories always say that the Commonwealth should come to the party more. We provide most of the funds for disability services. The Commonwealth