Page 940 - Week 03 - Thursday, 28 February 2013

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to compliance with the standards. The act also amends the Human Rights Commission Act 2005 to include a breach of these standards as cause for complaint to the commissioner about a disability service.

Disability service standards have already, in fact, been legislated through the Official Visitor Act that was tabled in this place by my colleague Amanda Bresnan last year, though the commencement date for this provision in the Official Visitor Act is March 2014 and some of the other provisions are slightly different.

Legislated disability standards are important as they strengthen the commitment that government has to ensure that people with a disability receive services in a professional and appropriate manner. The standards become particularly important in light of the rollout of the national disability insurance scheme. Service standards have existed for some time. Indeed, the national disability service standards are currently being updated and are due for imminent release. This is, I understand, the intent of this bill—to ensure that there is a legislative framework for the ACT government to adopt the national disability service standards as law.

Until now, disability service providers have, in general, had service standards linked to funding agreements. This has been the mechanism by which implementation of standards has been monitored. Obviously, with the rollout of the NDIS, service providers will not necessarily be subject to funding agreements with governments, and so a legislative framework becomes even more important. The capacity to set standards effectively gives the government a clearer ability to regulate the disability service sector.

The bill makes it clear that a service that has to comply with guidelines in a service agreement is also required to comply with any legislated standards. One would assume that the legislated standards would assume priority should there be any contradiction, but my understanding is that there has been an attempt to align service agreement standards with the national disability service standards as they are being developed.

This bill obviously allows for other standards besides the national disability service standards to be adopted—for example, the provision of local standards as well. One would assume that these would be implemented with the full consultation of the disability service sector and disability advocacy groups.

The Greens were also reassured to find out from the minister’s office that the intent of the new section 11—clause 2—did not mean that if standards adopted from other jurisdictions were updated or changed, the new versions were not put through the Assembly as a new disallowable instrument.

The phrase “from time to time” left that a little unclear and we would not want the situation to arise where an updated version of what was effectively the same standard did not pass through the Assembly as a disallowable instrument. Madam Deputy Speaker, the Greens will be supporting this bill today.

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