Page 686 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 March 2005

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pleasure, Mr Speaker, to actually attend the launch of those documents—the future directions document and the Challenge 2014 document—last year.

The ACT government has made a funding commitment of an additional $22 million towards disability initiatives in the ACT over the period July 2003 to July 2007, including initiatives such as reform and funding of individual support packages and assistance for people with high and complex needs; the digital divide for people with a disability; the ACT taxi subsidy scheme; funding to establish a local area coordination service in the ACT; funding contracts and capacity building in the non-government sector; the innovations grant; and the establishment of the community linking and needs assessment service.

I would personally like to congratulate Disability ACT for their continued hard work across the ACT government to create opportunities for people with disabilities. And, of course, Mr Speaker, I am sure we all appreciate this is not always an easy thing to do. Two of the major achievements across the whole of government include the access to government strategy and the ACT public service employment framework.

The access to government strategy, including an audit and information kit, was produced collaboratively with the ACT Disability Advisory Council and enables government departments to identify and address any barriers that are preventing people with a disability accessing services. This strategy covers areas such as physical access, information, training and business process.

In September of last year, the Chief Minister’s Department and Disability Housing and Community Services jointly produced the ACT public service employment framework. It assists people with a disability to access secure and sustainable employment opportunities within the ACT. The Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services is currently working on implementation plans for this strategy, with a view to increasing the number of people with a disability gaining employment.

Mr Speaker, Disability ACT continues to foster community partnerships and undertakes consultations with individuals and the community to inform the development of policies and services. In consultation with the community, Disability ACT and the disability reform quality and standards working group are developing ACT quality standards and guidelines for specialist disability services. It is anticipated that this will be completed within the next 18 months and will include pilot testing of a self-assessment process.

I would also like to mention Disability ACT’s participation in community life, with the successful co-hosting of the International Day of DisAbility—and the emphasis on “ability” in that case—in December 2003, including the inaugural ACT inclusion awards and, more recently, the continuation of involvement in this important day through the Canberra DisAbility—once again, the emphasis on “ability”—Arts Festival in Garema Place last year.

I had great pleasure in attending the inaugural Canberra DisAbility Arts Festival last year, Mr Speaker, and my congratulations sincerely go to people within the department who helped coordinate that, members of the community and to Arts and Recreation ACT who, I know, coordinated the running of the arts festival in Garema Place. It was a great success and I know that everybody is hoping that it will continue. These are just some of

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