Page 167 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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Community services

MS PORTER: My question is to the Minister for Community Services. Minister, can you update the Assembly on the challenges and opportunities facing the ACT community sector?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Porter for the question and for her interest in community services. Members would be aware that the community sector is an essential partner with government in the planning and delivery of community services here in the territory and that all state and territory governments currently are facing pressure to work with pressure on budgets and pressure to deliver an ever-increasing range of services to the community.

This opportunity, I think, is before us to work with the community sector to undertake structural reform to ensure that we are able to deliver high-quality services and that we get value for the $130 million that the territory government invests in the community sector each year. This is a significant investment, $130 million, to support vulnerable members of our community. There is always an opportunity to work with the sector to ensure that this money is targeted, is spent wisely and, most importantly, improves people’s lives.

There is no doubt that the community sector is at the beginning of a significant period of change, driven of course by a number of major national reforms, including the implementation of the equal pay case, the introduction of the national disability insurance scheme and the establishment of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. The NDIS, for example, is a groundbreaking social reform that is placing individuals at the centre of decision-making processes and ensuring that vulnerable members of the community have a say in the services that they are provided.

The challenge ahead for all of us in the sector is to think about how we deliver services in this changed environment. I think this also presents a great opportunity to work with the community sector to make sure it is even more capable and skilled and even better able to make the vital contribution that so many disadvantaged Canberrans depend on.

But, above all, these reforms present an opportunity to deliver better services to people in our community, to provide services that give them a roof over their head, to feed their families and give them the support they need to build their skills and to find a job. This is why the ACT Labor government remain committed to creating the economic environment that supports jobs and sustains services, why we are the only government in Australia to undertake meaningful tax reform that supports economic growth, makes housing more affordable, reduces the costs of insurance and, most importantly, boosts employment opportunities. And that is why we will continue to talk about the long-term benefits that tax reform delivers to this community.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Porter.

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