Page 1454 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 6 May 2008

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A Caring Community

Mr Speaker, a caring community supports its marginalised members and tries to understand and then respond to the root causes of their economic and social exclusion.

We grieve when we do not succeed in every instance.

We search our hearts when our efforts founder.

But our response—the response of this Government—is to redouble our effort. That’s why we have invested so heavily in services for vulnerable individuals and families in our community. Protecting children at risk of abuse and neglect and strengthening services for people with disabilities and mental health problems have been high priorities from the start of our period in office.

Mr Speaker, this Budget meets the future head-on.

It allocates $12.4 million for programs for people with disabilities, older members of our community, pensioners, and disadvantaged groups and individuals. There’s:

• $0.8 million for a West Belconnen Children and Family Support Service;

• $0.6 million to help disadvantaged Canberrans access the arts and culture;

• $0.6 million to get older Canberrans and those with disabilities involved in physical activity; and

• $8.5 million to help those living with mental illness.

And we’ve extended water supply concessions to all Centrelink Health Care cardholders, Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) holders and asylum seekers.

Mr Speaker, our Child and Family Centres are regarded nationally as a model of service delivery.

Through this Budget the Government will do forward design work on a third Child and Family Centre—this one to be located in Belconnen.

And many older Canberrans who can no longer drive will benefit from free bus travel under the ACTION Gold Pass funded in this Budget as part of the Surrender Your Licence Program.

The community sector in this town works in genuine and passionate partnership with the Government to deliver services to people in need.

This Budget provides a further $3.6 million to increase the capacity of the community sector.

I am also pleased to be able to provide seed funding in this Budget to establish a portable long-service scheme for the community sector.

Mr Speaker, after intensive consultation with the community, the Government is upgrading a number of surplus school buildings into community facilities. The Budget

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