Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 September 2005) . . Page.. 3362 ..
MR HARGREAVES: I thank Ms Porter for her question. The ACT government believes that all people in the ACT should have the opportunity to participate fully in community life and recognises that people with a disability are often at a disadvantage. To best assist people with a disability, we rely on advice and contact with people experiencing some of the barriers to full participation.
Last week, I announced a new term for the Disability Advisory Council. Since its inception in May 2003, the council has been actively involved in the disability reform process and has provided the government with sound advice and recommendations to help us make sure that we are on the right track. Over the coming term, I have asked the Disability Advisory Council to develop strategies that recognise and address the specific needs of indigenous Canberrans with disabilities, Canberrans with intellectual disabilities and Canberra’s youth with disabilities.
I am very pleased that Mr Craig Wallace, who has chaired the council for the past term, has agreed to continue in his role for the coming two years. Craig’s commitment to the council and to the people with a disability in the ACT is well known and well respected. His advice has always been frank and valued.
I would like to welcome the incoming deputy chair, Cheryl Patrick, who has much experience in the disability community and is a parent of a child with a disability. I pass on my thanks and good wishes to the outgoing deputy chair, Margaret Spalding, whose contribution and commitment to the disability community in the ACT are well known and also well respected.
The government further extended its engagement with the community last week, convening and participating in a roundtable on the issue of people with a disability in the workforce. About 15 per cent of the working-age population in the ACT have a disability that puts them at risk of exclusion from full participation in the life of our community. With this in mind, business leaders from across Canberra, Disability ACT, employment professionals and parents of children with a disability gathered last week at a roundtable to explore ways in which Canberrans with a disability could be given greater opportunities to participate in the workforce as well as in the cultural, sporting and intellectual life of the national capital. The gathering of the roundtable, called “Business leaders: innovation, thoughts, solutions”, with the acronym BLITS, was the first time such a group gathered, with the aim of finding a solution to some of the barriers that exist to full inclusion of people with a disability in the workforce.
This area is one that requires the cooperation of the whole community, not just government. What was heartening and encouraging from the gathering was the acknowledgment that this is not simply a challenge for the government; that the solutions need to come from the community and the government working together.
I was pleased to see the passion and the vigour of our business leaders in approaching this topic and discussing their role in finding solutions. This was a particularly timely gathering, as we are about to see more people with a disability try to enter our workforce under the federal government’s welfare to work reforms.