Page 328 - Week 01 - Thursday, 11 December 2008

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legal aid are obviously coming under pressure as a result. Again, the Chief Executive of the Legal Aid Commission advised me that that is an issue that can be handled in the short to medium term, but in the longer term there will need to be consideration given to the funding base of Legal Aid, and that is a matter that I am in discussions with him about at this time. I intend to meet again with the board of the Legal Aid Commission in the new year to discuss these matters further.

Carers and volunteers

MS PORTER: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, what has been the community reaction to the government’s announcement of the additional emergency assistance funding and other support measurers for carers and volunteers?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Porter for the question. There have been overwhelming expressions of support in the community for the extra funding for emergency relief and for supporting carers and volunteers in our community.

We are fortunate in the ACT that there is a strong willingness within the community sector to work in partnership with the government to achieve the best outcomes for the people of Canberra. We have a long and proud history of working in cooperation with the non-government sector to ensure that we can deliver quality services and assistance to the community, particularly those who are vulnerable or at risk. By making this additional investment in emergency relief and support for our tireless carers and volunteers, we are enhancing the Labor government’s commitment to addressing issues of justice and equity.

The response from the community sector has been positive. The ACT Council of Social Services’ Ms Roslyn Dundas said:

We particularly applaud the fulfilment of ACT Labor’s election promise to provide $2.5 million to carers and volunteers to help with transport costs, and an additional $1 million for emergency relief providers who are struggling to meet the increased requests for assistance.

The measures provided are in addition, of course, to the existing funding received by the community sector to support those in need. We currently provide in excess of $850,000 annually to welfare organisations to provide emergency relief packages to individuals and families experiencing financial difficulty. The extra $1 million being provided through this initiative will allow organisations to provide assistance to even more Canberrans at a time when many people are feeling the impact of the rising costs of living and the emerging local effect of the global financial downturn.

Our assistance measures have been welcomed by groups such as Uniting Care, Kippax. Their team leader, Gordon Ramsay, said:

The Government’s decision to introduce this relief package on the first sitting day of the new Assembly hopefully demonstrates a solid and ongoing dedication to issues of justice and equity. It is a very positive down-payment on the elimination of poverty in this city.

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