Page 1653 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 1 April 2009

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I cannot entirely answer your question because of the point in time that we are at. Rest assured that they are very much part of the discussions. We acknowledge that cutting back on key areas of service delivery would not be something that we are actively considering in this budget process.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Hunter?

MS HUNTER: There is an increasing demand, as you know, on the community services. Is the government exploring other strategies to address this increase in demand?

MS GALLAGHER: Yes, we are. As the first response to representations we had from the community sector around additional pressure we met in the second appropriation with $3½ million for emergency relief support to community organisations, and that has been very well received. We have been, of course, receiving submissions from the community sector around areas of pressure for them, and they are included in the budget process and, I think, in discussions that I have had with you, Ms Hunter, and others.

I have a meeting arranged with ACTCOSS as the peak; a meeting to talk about the community sector as a whole and how we, I guess, do a bit more forward thinking, similar to the thinking we are doing in health, or we have done in health, about projecting forward 10 years, about where we need to be and what the level of demand for services is, so that we can have a look at the money that is available, where the projections are indicating we are going to go, how we apply that money and what other additional resources are needed to get to where we want to be.

It is going to be a pretty difficult discussion because some of that needs to involve some structural reform in the community sector. But I think there is a willingness there to commence those discussions, and I will be doing that shortly in a more formal way with ACTCOSS. We are hoping that our investment into the former school sites, building them up as community hubs and relieving those organisations that have applied for space in there from paying commercial rent, will hopefully assist those organisations with how they deploy their resources, and we are doing a lot of work around that. So there is some work underway and there is going to be a more focused discussion, which I hope ACTCOSS will lead with its members but work with the government to do a bit more longer term planning.

The other area would be in the second appropriation, the money that we organised for the community sector IR work that we had agreed to as part of the parliamentary agreement. I understand that we are giving the information to you around the terms of reference for that, to look at the workforce issues, pay and conditions and what we can do around there. If we can pull all that together nicely, certainly in a year’s time I hope that we will have a better idea of where we are going and how we meet the needs of the community sector and the community in years to come.

Education—public system

MS BURCH: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. Would the

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