Page 2955 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 6 August 2008

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enabled people with disabilities to access much-needed accommodation and increased carer support, access to respite and improved community access programs.

In addition to this, the Australian government has committed to matching the ACT government’s $15.8 million funding boost for accommodation and support services. An additional $15.23 million of commonwealth money will go to providing additional individual support packages, flexible respite care options, more supported accommodation places and increased community access places. The commonwealth will allocate $1.69 million of capital funding for the ACT, which will be used to provide additional accommodation options. This contribution is very welcome and again demonstrates how Labor governments at all levels are committed to providing better services for people with disabilities. Further, in the crucial area of therapy services, we have increased expenditure by 106 per cent and have improved the government’s equipment loan scheme and support for children with autism.

As with disability services, the ACT government has made child protection a priority. Since coming to government we have increased spending in this area by 167 per cent. During the last sitting the Assembly passed the new Children and Young People Act, as we are all aware, which modernises the current system and incorporates significant policy changes. This is particularly so in the areas of care and protection, youth justice and childcare services. The changes have been informed by community consultation with young people and key community, government, legal and advocacy agencies over many years.

The Stanhope government will also shortly open the new Bimberi Youth Justice Centre, which will replace Quamby, with design and operation in compliance with human rights principles and which will provide opportunities for rehabilitation, positive personal development and reintegration into the community. Members would be aware that an opportunity is being organised by the Standing Committee on Education, Training and Young People to visit Bimberi next week. I would encourage all members in this place and their staff to take up this opportunity and to join us on that visit.

The Stanhope government has invested in the innovative child and family centre model, now championed by the Prime Minister, as an opportunity to bring health and family services together under one roof. The centres at Tuggeranong and Gungahlin are now providing a vital service to those communities and the government has announced planning work for a third child and family centre, at west Belconnen.

Finally, I will touch on the area of community services. We have increased expenditure on homeless services by 74 per cent and continue to overmatch commonwealth government contributions by $3 million per annum. We have worked with the community sector workforce to improve conditions. This year, the government implemented one of the key recommendations of the tripartite community sector task force report, with the establishment of a portable long service leave scheme for the community sector. We are currently seeking feedback on the implementation of that. As you know, Mr Assistant Speaker, I worked for many years in the community sector. I know how important this and other work undertaken by the sector with government has been.

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