Page 688 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 March 2005

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to stand here saying that parents have to be competitive in their misery or that people with a disability must compete to get the services they need.

I am sure that the government will be taking all these comments on board in a way that will perhaps better address the issues as we move on, trying to make continual improvement in this very challenging area. People with a disability are still being inappropriately housed. We have seen that. I do not need to comment further. People see it in the media. They see letters to the editor. Other members have people ringing their offices, I am sure, saying that there are still real problems in terms of flexibility within housing to match people to areas where they live and/or follow up people with a disability, mental or otherwise, with relevant and appropriate support and care. I also agree with Dr Foskey’s thoughts on the notion of group homes. I will talk about that later, too.

If we look back at the first report in April 2003, five joint community and government reform working groups were established to assist Disability ACT, as well as the community advisory body that was formed after that date. All are doing a fantastic job. I want to put it on the record that I am not downplaying the magnificent effort by the community. The groups were to investigate a broad range of issues: eligibility, funding, housing quality standards, and work force and legislation reform. As we all know, there were 50 recommendations in total from the Gallop report. Many of these recommendations have unfortunately, from where I sit, really only been devolved, if I can put it that way, to discussion paper, option paper or policy proposal level.

The government, in its first report back to the Assembly on 1 April 2003, stated that, “It is vitally important that people with disabilities have appropriate access to government programs, services and facilities.” In his opening statement of the snapshot of community attitudes on disability in the ACT on 3 December 2003, Craig Wallace asked all of us to take responsibility for improving the outcomes for people with disabilities, families and carers in the Canberra community. It is interesting to note in the snapshot report that some 97 per cent of residents said they would be comfortable about helping a person in a wheelchair carry groceries to the supermarket checkout. I see the community raising its efforts. I am, however, most disappointed that, despite all the talk and hype that we have heard from the government, beefing this thing up, saying, “We’re doing lots of things, we’ve got lots of paper and things are happening”, we still see 45 per cent of ACT residents indicating that people with a disability do not have the same access to services as other people in the ACT.

We have come a long way down the track since Gallop. Two years on people are still saying these things. Forty-four per cent of residents suggest that people with a disability do not have the same opportunities to participate in community life as other people and 30 per cent indicate that, overall, people with a disability are not treated fairly in the ACT. More than half, 54 per cent, of the community feel that people with a disability do not have adequate government financial support. I put this question to the Assembly: surely the community is doing its bit? Is it not clear and evident that the government is letting people down?

In its fourth and final report the government outlines progress made against the government’s response to the recommendations of the Board of Inquiry into Disability Services since the government response was originally tabled in the Assembly in 2002.

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