Page 687 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 March 2005

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the many recent initiatives undertaken by the government to better support people with disabilities.

The fourth progress report, which was tabled in the February sitting, contains a comprehensive record of the initiatives taken in the two years since September 2002, when the government responded to the recommendations of the board of inquiry. This Labor government remains committed to implementing the remaining recommendations and advancing the reforming process through the future directions framework to which the minister referred when he tabled the report in February.

Mr Speaker, we have come a long way but of course there is still much to be done to meet the vision of people with disabilities so that they achieve what they want to achieve, to live how they choose to live and to be valued as full and equal members of the ACT Community.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (11.28): Mr Speaker, firstly, I will make a few comments on the contributions of a couple of earlier speakers. I realise that the preparation of the report has been a monumental task. We are still seeing many layers of discussion and I know that there are concerns and rumblings in the media that all is still not well within the sector. Dr Foskey has alluded to those concerns. Ms MacDonald has spoken about the need for a fundamental shift in our approach to the provision of disability services in the ACT, an approach built on respect for the views of people with disabilities and a commitment to community partnership.

We have a long way to go to achieve that goal, and I will mention that later. I recognise the government’s commitment to a four-year cycle of funding, totalling $22 million. Again, though, I would say that we seem to see a government focused on simply trying to throw money at a problem in the hope that it will solve it, without trying to change the cultures sometimes involved in departments or in a community. So we really need to be mindful that throwing money at something is not necessarily going to give us the outcome that we want.

I am very pleased to see that digital divide funding of $50,000. Ms MacDonald referred to that also. I congratulate the government for starting the taxi subsidy scheme, and for increasing it. I agree with Dr Foskey that we have to be careful that many of the community initiatives that Ms MacDonald alluded to are not being used perhaps as smokescreens, if I can give them that title, to give the impression that all is well. Dr Foskey did comment, as do I, because of the feedback I get from stakeholders, from consumers, from parents, that the needs of people with disabilities are not being met. People are falling through the cracks. I am sorry that I have to make that statement. I wish that I was standing here saying that, with this, the fourth and final report into the implementation of the government’s response to the Board of Inquiry into Disability Services, things are going perhaps better than I feel they are. I will talk about that later, too.

It is disappointing to note that a quarter of the applicants for ISPs, independent support packages, are unsuccessful. Many people either do not know about the packages, or there is a language barrier. These and other issues that Dr Foskey alluded to earlier are of great concern to me. People continually talk to me about them. What a thing it is that we have

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