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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5249 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Despite that fact, earlier this year FaBRiC had a one-off budget windfall and it chose to extend the provision of its respite services to an additional 38 families on a short-term basis. FaBRiC advised those families that funding would cease in December 2003. It is of concern to me that a community organisation would choose to take such a step. Clearly, once respite services are provided there is an expectation by those who are receiving them that they will continue.

FaBRiC provided those additional services in the knowledge that the funding was not ongoing. It knew that when it made a decision to provide those services. Unfortunately, I think it placed those families in a difficult position. This matter was brought to my attention last month. I then agreed that the government would provide FaBRiC with additional funding to the tune of $30,000 to ensure that those respite services would continue until the end of February next year.

The government provided additional funding to address a shortfall that became evident as a result of FaBRiC's decision to extend that funding on a short-term basis. In the interim the government will be working with FaBRiC to ensure that this issue is managed until February, at which stage the government expects a tender for an additional $400,000 worth of respite services to be completed. That funding is targeted to provide a number of innovate respite care models that are designed to meet the needs of families.

As a result of that funding the government expects the families who have been supported by FaBRiC to be supported in the long term. The ACT Government did not place those families in that position as a result of any funding cut; FaBRiC decided to extend its services to an additional 38 families. However, as it had a one-off budget windfall we are now confronted with this problem. The government stepped in to provide additional funding until the end of February, at which stage we expected the territory-wide tender for respite services to be completed. Those families who need respite care services should be able to be serviced in the longer term.

MS DUNDAS: I thank the minister for his answer. However, I did not intend to imply when asking my question that that problem occurred as a result of a funding cut.

MR SPEAKER: Order! The member should ask her supplementary question.

MS DUNDAS: Does the government have in place a strategy to eliminate the waiting list for families with children with a disability who have been assessed as being in need of respite care under that criteria but who have not been able to access respite care? If the government has such a strategy, when does it expect that waiting list to be cleared?

MR CORBELL: Ms Dundas asked a somewhat simplistic question, as though there were some way in which this government could automatically remove all unmet need in the community. I would like to meet the members of any government in the world who were able to eliminate unmet need in the community. This government has in place a strategy. An additional $4.1 million was allocated for respite care in the 2002-03 budget.

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