Page 168 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 15 February 2006

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The ACT government also has the Chief Minister’s inclusion awards. Last December, seven awards were presented to Canberra businesses that had demonstrated their commitment to include people with a disability into their workplace, business or community. Last year we had a record number of entries for the awards. I commend the business community in Canberra for beginning to embrace inclusion for people with a disability in their workplaces.

I also acknowledge that Koomarri provides community support and employment services for over 350 people with moderate to severe disabilities in the ACT and has been doing so for some time. I commend Koomarri for leading the way in employing people with a disability and for its commitment to assist people with a disability to reach their full potential. I also encourage other Canberra businesses to continue to follow Koomarri’s lead in providing employment opportunities to Canberrans with disabilities.

In conclusion, I would like to again thank Ms MacDonald for bringing this motion to the Assembly today. There are many organisations and businesses in Canberra that are doing great things for our community, but I am pleased to acknowledge today the special place Koomarri has in our city and our history. It is truly an integral part of our community.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.26): One would need to be churlish, ignorant or just plain silly to disagree with this motion, because there is no doubt that Koomarri does provide a valuable service to our community, and I believe it is a name that everybody would know. In terms of raising the profile of issues related to people with a disability and of increasing the awareness of Canberra people of the needs of people with a disability, Koomarri has done a valuable service just in that.

Koomarri has changed considerably since it was established in 1952, undoubtedly reflecting our changing understanding of what it is like to live with a disability, what people who live with a disability need and want, and a growing commitment as a society to support people who live with a disability to have full and meaningful lives.

One of the key challenges that face young people with a disability and their families is what to do after school finishes for them. Expectations have changed appreciably for people over the years. It is no longer satisfactory to give people just busy work—for instance, having them do work that is not valuable to society just so that they are occupied—or to pay them less than their productivity warrants, as the sheltered workshops of the past used to do. I note that operations such as Ezi Iron and Garden Maintenance provide paid and meaningful work.

The best outcomes are often shaped for individuals, and the least satisfactory arrangements are those that deal with people in bulk without taking into account their individual needs. I am confident that Koomarri is doing its best to provide individual opportunities for the young people in its care, although I note that it is, of course, a question of identifying sufficient resources in the years leading up to the end of school. I have no doubt that Koomarri is well aware of these challenges and I presume it is doing its best to address them.

Another area in which Koomarri has been doing good work is in supported accommodation. I understand that Koomarri has been prepared to try new ideas to

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