Page 3973 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 15 Sept 2009

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on the very positive steps of the last five years and guide priority areas for disability policy and service delivery across the ACT government and community through to 2014. The framework has been developed within the context of the ACT Human Rights Act and is consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The development of the new framework has been led by the ACT disability strategic governance group, a unique model of shared governance comprising family, community and government members. I thank the group for its considerable foresight and commitment in delivering this framework. In particular, I would like to single out a few people: Brett Phillips, Lois Ford and Andrew Whale. Of course, they have quite a number of people working for them, all of whom are dedicated officers.

In developing the six strategic priorities that embody the framework, the strategic governance group undertook extensive community consultation. Thirty-three consultation sessions were held across the ACT and attended by 260 people. These were a mix of people with diverse disabilities, their family members and community and government agencies. Twelve written submissions were received. I would like to thank those community members and agencies who shared their experience and knowledge in having their say. A report on the consultations has been released by the strategic governance group.

The key messages from the consultations confirm that we are on the right path to achieving the vision. We heard about the life aspirations of people with disability and the need for concerted action on whole-of-community and whole-of-government integrated responses. Similar to previous consultations, people with disability and their families still want access to safe, stable and continuous support that is going to meet their individual needs. They also want the community to recognise and respect their contributions and welcome them as valued family members, friends, employers, employees and volunteers.

The consultations have given us a new set of challenges over the next five years. We need, for example, better systems planning to ensure that people with disability can access the right support they need in the right time and at the right place. We need to form partnerships with education providers and potential employers to create stronger pathways to employment for all people with disability.

The ACT government needs to continue to show leadership as an employer of choice by people with disability. We need to continue creating partnerships with community, sport, recreation, cultural and environment groups to create more inclusive community activities that welcome people with disability. We need to work hard in changing community attitudes. This continues to be a long and complex challenge and the policy framework will help us tackle this together.

We need to find ways to cut back the number of times people have to fill in forms for basic supports. We also need to keep asking people with disability how our services and supports can be made more responsive to their needs. Our aim is to make life easier, not harder, for people with disability and their families.

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