Page 1218 - Week 04 - Thursday, 17 March 2005

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Disability services

MRS BURKE: (Molonglo) (5.46): Amidst all the celebrations of St Patrick’s Day, I find it necessary to continue to keep before members of this house the plight of the disability sector. I ask the minister to reconsider his approach, as presented to us at question time on 16 March. The minister said, “I have absolutely no intention of discussing individual cases in this chamber.”

It has come to something. The minister constantly dismisses constituents in this place. We have to talk about issues that are brought before us. It is our responsibility. Often members will use case studies. Mr Hargreaves knows only too well that there are many people who are in a deep plight out there. I thought we were here to serve the public, not fob them off. It is now patently clear, from his glib display of words, that the minister simply is not in charge of his portfolio.

It is extremely disappointing that the minister is glib about people in need in our community. He refuses to discuss certain cases in an effort to find solutions. This is an extremely arrogant approach. I have offered to try to talk to the minister and his predecessor, about whom, incidentally, I have never said a bad word. Mr Hargreaves did take me out of context the other day, but I let it go through to the keeper. I want to work to find solutions for these people.

I want to remind members of a letter in the Canberra Times on 5 March 2005: It reads:

When will Stanhope deliver on promises to the disabled?’

Just because you say it doesn’t make it true. “The policies and funding we have in place are addressing the long-term needs of disability clients,” says Disability Services Minister John Hargreaves. (CT, March 3, p4). This is not true.

The long-term needs of people with a disability in the ACT are far from being met, and neither are the short-term needs.

The unmet need for support in a range of areas is overwhelming. There were not 69 applications from people with a disability for Individual Support Packages … There were 205 applications and only 52 of those were successful in receiving funding, which means that the 153 applicants did not receive any funding at all.

In question time on 16 March, Mr Hargreaves said, “There are a number of people for whom we must provide the funds, and we do. There were 52 of them, if my memory serves me correctly. Of the remaining 206, some people did not satisfy the criteria.” I understand that, but do not say that you are funding people when you are not, because 17 people actually missed out. Mr Hargreaves knows only too well the actions those people are taking. I have written to Mr Hargreaves about a couple of cases. He knows that. It is out in the public arena. I really want the minister to have a change of heart, to have this public debate, to bring it out into the open.

I remind the minister that he is charged with the mantle of minister to do just that; not to fob people off. Consider people who have needs, and let us work together. He has never

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