Page 2301 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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were more ISPs. We need more services so that people get treated quicker but, on the whole, I have got to say that, compared to many other communities, the community around the people with a disability is not unhappy with this budget. I want to acknowledge that. I also agree, though, with the estimates committee report’s recommendations regarding the autism and Asperger’s peak body and the review of the equipment loans, and I am pleased to see that the government does respond to these recommendations.

In the estimates hearing I expressed concerns that carers were clearly not a priority for additional funding in this budget. The minister advised that there is funding for carers in a number of the other disability services initiatives but that carers do not “necessarily have a separate line in the budget’”. My concerns echo those of Carers ACT. While I do recognise that the government have ongoing funding to programs and services for carers, I particularly acknowledge the support they give to young carers, those people who should be being children and young people, that find themselves, instead, in the incredibly responsible and grown-up position of caring for a family member with a disability, a mental illness or other issues.

It is important for us to understand that carers are often people who, through families and other connections, will do the work. Even if they are not getting support, they will do the work. And that means that a lot of pressure can be put on them. That is because they will just keep doing that work because they love the person they are caring for or they feel a duty towards the person they are caring for. As I said, I think that is often pushed a little bit too far by governments.

There are welcome initiatives in the budget for ACT residents with disabilities. The funding for students with a disability, as part of the education budget, and the $94,000 feasibility study into accommodation needs for people with highly challenging behaviours are good news. I am interested in watching their implementation and I hope that $94,000 is enough and that the actual work on the facility can begin as soon as possible.

In regard to community services, I briefly mentioned the use of school sites as community hubs in my speech on TAMS, in the earlier response to the budget. The proposed community use is a good idea, though, as I noted in my May speech, it comes at the expense of a number of schools. I will be interested to see how these hubs work and whether the aims of sharing services will be beneficial to our struggling sector.

I do note, however, that the government was not encouraging community groups to get together and put in bids. It would make a lot of sense, I believe, for groups with common interests, who can share resources, to be located together in the one community hub. As it was, community groups put in their submissions without knowing what other community groups were asking for. It sets up inevitable competition and it may not lead to the greatest synergies and efficiencies that could be possible in these places.

I attended the consultation about part of the grounds around Weston primary school earlier this week. Weston primary school closed at the beginning of last year as part of

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