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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5257 ..

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to table today a report Counselling Services Following the January 2003 ACT Bushfires. This document is tabled in accordance with recommendation 5 of the Report on the Inquiry into the Appropriation Bill 2003-2004 (No 2) issued by the Select Committee on Estimates in September 2003. Recommendation 5 is that "the Government assess the ongoing need for counselling services as a result of the 2003 bushfires and provide an interim report to the Assembly on the last sitting day in December 2003 of plans for 2004".

The January 2003 bushfires were unprecedented in the ACT, not only in the damage to property and life but also in the great personal damage and trauma experienced by those most affected. The immediate need for a fully competent and focused recovery process was clear to everyone. Now that recovery is well on the way for most, that response has been acknowledged as world best practice.

Mr Speaker, the establishment of immediate assistance to those in need-through evacuation centres and the recovery centre fully operational within days of the disaster, and with the full cooperation and assistance of the ACT community-was, to be frank, quite an amazing feat. The range of services provided and the breadth of coordination between ACT government and community organisations in delivering what was needed is outstanding, and much has been achieved.

Mr Speaker, the ability to respond quickly and effectively to those in need of counselling has been crucial to the recovery effort. We know that this will continue to be a crucial need for some time. It is particularly important that those most directly affected by the fires can face the future confidently and with the knowledge that there is still assistance for them when and if they need it.

Consideration has presently been given to the best means of meeting the ongoing needs of those affected by the bushfire following closure of the ACT recovery centre at the end of March 2004. These matters are detailed in the report. Mr Speaker, I commend the report to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Caring for carers policy


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) (3.33): Mr Speaker, for the information of members, I present the following paper:

The Caring for Carers Policy-Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services, dated December 2003.

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

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