Page 1396 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 April 2013

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There is much that this government is doing to help people with autism, and with the important national reforms in disability and in education there is much underway. I would accept that whilst we deliver a substantive range of programs, some individuals and some family members want more. I can appreciate that, and I have always had very open communication with anyone who has come to my office about how we can continue to improve services for people with a disability, including those with autism.

That is why I was very pleased, as I indicated in my comments on the motion, to take to the community quite a substantive package of additional work, which included $5,000 per person for an extra half-day of support for young people with a disability as they graduate from school. I recognise that that transition time is difficult for any young person, and for any family, but for those with the additional challenges of autism, hopefully that will be a well-received additional support. The individuals and families can make the decisions about where and how they access support services through that additional $5,000.

I think that the payroll tax concessions for businesses to employ school leavers with a disability is very much a step in the right direction. It is about going into the private sector and providing opportunities for young people with autism to have a connection and to have opportunities for employment in the longer term. I reflect on an Autism ACT event a couple of years ago where they were giving out awards. I had the pleasure of meeting a young woman who had some sort of disability who was looking to establish a playgroup, an after-school care group. I was pleased to be able to make a connection for her into the Gungahlin Child and Family Centre. As I understand it, that program continues to grow and be supported at Gungahlin Child and Family Centre. That young mother has provided a great service to others in the community.

I am very pleased also to provide additional funding to Carers ACT to help carers to maintain their personal wellbeing. Carers do tremendous work in our community—the unsung heroes, in many ways, of our community. There is that little bit of assistance through Carers ACT to go to the carers, because it is important that we do not take our eye off providing that care to the carers, who face daily challenges, and more often than many of us would appreciate.

I am pleased that my amendment also calls on the government to provide a report to the Assembly on the last sitting day of May 2013 on support provided for autism diagnosis and services and the potential for other reforms. Whilst I have outlined a significant suite of packages, it is important that I outline for all members of this place and more broadly across the community what government, not only through Therapy ACT and the Community Services Directorate but as a whole, currently does, as we move through the next month. The disability insurance scheme and the national plan for school improvement will have progressed even further along the line and we can bring additional information to bear for members at that point.


MADAM SPEAKER: Before we proceed, I note the presence in the gallery of former Deputy Chief Minister Mr David Lamont. Welcome to the Assembly.

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