Page 3003 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 14 August 2013
The government’s targeted assistance strategy is aimed at those people and families who sit just above the concessional safety net and are not receiving government income support but are at risk of financial shock. These families typically have incomes falling in the second income quintile and are more likely to experience financial stress but are less likely to seek assistance from community or welfare organisations. The focus of the government strategy is on easing household pressures and reducing the shock of a big bill hitting the household budget.
The ACT government assistance website provides information on the range of ACT and commonwealth government funded programs. The site now receives 7,500 monthly visits. I can advise the Assembly that over 85 per cent of these visits are from first-time users. Examples of the programs available include the no interest loan scheme, to support people who are unable to access mainstream credit; and the energy efficiency improvement scheme, which requires energy retailers to assist households to reduce energy costs. That scheme now also assists small businesses. And $5½ million is made available by the government to reduce public dental waiting lists.
In addition, a range of assistance programs are available at all household income levels. For example, the government provides assistance for the purchase of a first home through the enhanced first home owner grant.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Gentleman.
MR GENTLEMAN: Treasurer, can you outline what further measures the ACT government is taking to support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community?
MR BARR: The 2013-14 budget is providing substantial funding to support ACT households with the costs associated with caring for disabled family members. The budget invests a $5.5 million allocation over two years for enhanced services to prepare the territory for the full rollout of DisabilityCare from 2014. This is in addition to the $10.6 million in funding received from the commonwealth government for this purpose.
DisabilityCare will deliver a new system of disability support focused on the needs and choices of people with a disability and will significantly reduce the associated cost of living pressures on those ACT households.
Funding is also provided for disability support services such as school transport, additional learning resources for students with complex learning needs, payroll tax rebates for organisations who employ people with a disability and a drop-in centre for people with a profound disability.
The 2013-14 budget also funds an extension of the energy efficiency improvement scheme, which has helped 2,000 households in the last six months reduce their energy costs by around 22 per cent per household. The ACT government is also reducing cost of living pressures by reducing study costs for eligible persons through the Indigenous scholarship program, extending the trial of free bulky waste collection services for