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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Friday, 27 June 2008) . . Page.. 2309 ..

believe that is necessary. It used to work before, and the building has limited space. Whilst the peak bodies within the multicultural arena and the larger associations can quite easily afford to occupy permanent offices in the place, a lot of smaller communities cannot. A lot of smaller communities who also want to run, for example, their own weekend language training courses for migrants settling in to Australia or mother-tongue courses for their own kids—which are very important and should be a priority—find it very, very difficult to find places to be able to undertake that sort of training. They need to be able to use the centre, but at $36 an hour, it is cost prohibitive. Small associations that do not have very much in the way of funds cannot do it. I would much prefer to see the government give up some of the office space they are occupying with the OMA and make smaller community spaces available which can be used by a variety of smaller associations at a much lower fee so that they can have the opportunities they need to really have.

I know of two community groups that badly need resources and interdepartmental assistance in managing youth-at-risk matters. I will stand to be corrected if somebody in the government can point out that I am wrong—I do not mind being wrong on this—but it seems to me that there is not sufficient funding available for some of those organisations to help in the management of those sorts of matters. I do not see funding in the budget through the Migrant Resource Centre to provide that sort of assistance to some of the smaller community groups. That is a pretty important thing to do at the moment.

There is not too much to criticise in multicultural affairs, but there is a lot of room for improvement. There are a lot of good ideas that people from the community have brought forward. The idea of a ministerial advisory council is a very important issue. It is something that is really needed and wanted by the community, and I would implore the minister to relook at that issue. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (9.15): I do not intend to speak for long. As we know, Minister Gallagher had to go home because of a sick child. I want to add a few words of my own in regard to this line item. Mrs Burke raised the issue of there not being any substantial additional money allocated to disability services. I am sure Mr Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong, but my recollection is that this issue was raised by Mrs Burke in the estimates committee process and the minister did address it. Part of the response was that there has been additional money in previous years and that she would look at it further. So I just wanted to make that point.

Also, I know that Mrs Burke was talking about some older people but a new specialised children’s and young people’s equipment loan scheme is being established this year. The budget papers state:

The initiative provides children who have developmental delays and disabilities aged zero to 16 years with access to a variety of equipment for assessment and trial purposes as well as for loan prior to purchase. This equipment will significantly enhance functional outcomes and maximise the independence of these children and young people.

I believe that the minister said at the time that, because it is a significant expense for the families of those young people who are growing and who outgrow the equipment, it is something that the government saw as being an area of need.

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