Page 832 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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group homes, for example, as a viable option in the light of enhanced services to allow people to remain in group homes under the services offered by the individual support services team. However, I note from recent consultations with the sector that there seem to be some problems there. In one case, which I will not go into now, we are paying three or four times the amount that we were to support one young person pre Gallop. So I think there are certainly some issues there. I realise that the disability sector has some concerns with the group house model, but I believe that, if we get the support right, it can still work. At least let us not totally shelve it as an option for some people.

I wish to congratulate the government on the joint project mentioned on page 13 of the fourth report of the ACT government and federal government working together, and I look forward to hearing a positive outcome on that one. Community and employment participation are huge issues for the disability sector, and we need to continue to be innovative in our thinking to find as many ways as possible to engage people with a disability in a true and meaningful way.

There are one or two other areas within the sector that continue to concern me and are worth noting. I will, of course, continue to monitor the government’s handling of these areas, not the least of which being services to children with autism. The recent shelving—or deferring, should I say—of the diploma course in Auslan at the CIT, as Mr Arthur Baker from Braidwood stated in his letter to the Canberra Times on 22 February 2005, is unfortunate. I do, however, realise that the minister is looking into that matter and I hope that she will be making a statement about that course and what is happening to it in due time.

So, by the government’s own admission, there is still much to be done and a long way to go. I hope that the government will not hide behind this as an excuse for inaction and a lack of energy, enthusiasm and commitment to really improve the lives of people with a disability. As I did with the previous minister, I extend the offer of working with the current minister because I just do not think we can stand here having debate after debate, trying to score cheap political points. I am about helping the sector that, particularly in parts, is in crisis. I extend the hand of friendship, if you like, to the minister and say: please work with me so that we can really get some good results for the people who care most, the disability sector.

Arts facilities

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (6.04): I want to take this opportunity to report to the Assembly on some of the arts centres I had the opportunity to visit last week in Canberra. The facilities included the Tuggeranong Arts Centre in Tuggeranong, Megalo Access Arts Inc up at Watson and the ANU School of Art at Acton. I must say that the facilities in Canberra that we have for the arts continue to amaze me in a very positive sort of fashion. I have been quite overwhelmed by the outstanding and impressive array of exhibitions, courses, programs and general services available to the people of Canberra and the wider public.

My understanding and awareness of the arts community in Canberra has increased considerably since stepping into the new role as opposition spokesman on the arts. You think you know about your city. I have lived here for a fair period of time and was involved with the arts community when I lived here back in the seventies, but it has still

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