Page 1345 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 5 April 2011

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The audit found scope for improvement to the quality and equity of services and made 14 recommendations. Of those, the ACT government has agreed to 10, agreed in part to one and noted three. As of April 2010, the actions resulting from recommendations have been completed.

The ACT government welcomes the standing committee’s report as it addresses a wide range of issues informed by the personal experience of those families caring for a child or adult with a disability, carers of people living with a mental illness or elderly parents and people receiving care. This report benefits greatly from their submissions, and I thank everyone who took part, who participated.

The role that carers play is vital. We have recognised this through the ACT government’s caring for carers policy 2003, which provides a framework to recognise and support the diverse needs of people providing unpaid care and to support persons with needs associated with disability, ageing, ongoing physical or mental illness or substance abuse.

Most recently, the government asked the community for its view on the ACT carers charter. This charter recognises that carers in the ACT come from all ages, including young carers aged under 18 years and young adult carers aged 18 to 25 years. It recognises that young carers and young adult carers require support in order to access the same life opportunities as their peers.

It also recognises that older people often provide primary care to family members, particularly in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. These carers may be grandparents, uncles, aunts or other significant persons in the life of a child and these carers require supports that promote carer health and wellbeing, so that they too, in turn, are able to meet the needs of the persons who are in their care.

As noted by the standing committee, the object of the inquiry was to look at the full range of respite care services for people with a disability, mental illness and the elderly. In all, the standing committee made 28 recommendations in its report and the government agrees with seven of the recommendations, agrees with one recommendation in part and agrees with another seven recommendations in principle. The standing committee report is timely as the government is commissioning a feasibility study into respite services delivered by Disability ACT.

My department has established a respite service stakeholder group to inform the feasibility study and to provide advice on service models that best meet the needs of children, teenagers and adults with a disability. The respite service stakeholder group comprises people who currently or previously have used the respite services, parents and families of people who currently or previously have used the respite services, Housing ACT, Disability ACT respite service, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, Therapy ACT, specialist schools, the Department of Education and Training and Carers ACT. This group is well placed to give due consideration to these matters raised in the standing committee’s report, particularly around therapeutic and creative outlets for residents at the respite centres.

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