Page 4175 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 26 November 2013

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That said, there is no restriction on how many eligible employees are employed by a business, but the concession is only available once. This is to come into effect from 1 July 2013, which might give somebody a fear of retrospectivity, but it is about the payment periods that they are involved in. What it means is that if you have employed a young person with a disability who has left the scheme from the start of this financial year, the rebate will be open to you. It will continue until 1 July 2015.

I would be interested to know from the Treasurer why he has chosen that particular date. If the concession is a good concession and if it is true to the objectives of getting young school leavers with disability into, and keeping them in, the workforce, why has he put this tail on it? If it is a period that will be reviewed, we will see that. But it would be interesting to know. Perhaps the Treasurer can enlighten us when he closes as to why that is the closing date. That said, the opposition will be supporting the bill.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.46): The Greens will be supporting this bill today. It is a very short and simple bill but one which could have a strong positive effect for people with disabilities and their families. The bill essentially gives large businesses that are required to pay payroll tax in the ACT an opportunity to employ young people with qualifying disabilities by giving concessions on payroll tax on their salaries. Specifically, the arrangement is for employment of recent school leavers—young people between 17 and 24 years of age.

This is a very important time in the lives of young people with a disability as it is the time when suddenly things are not as clear and as easy as when there is school to attend each day. This can be a hard enough time for many school leavers, but for people with a disability, there is simply no guarantee of finding appropriate employment.

The school leaving stage of life is obviously the prime time to offer employment opportunities. For many young people with a disability, the end of school can signal a drastic reduction in social inclusion and engagement in the community. If positive and meaningful programs and opportunities are not provided, it can be a time when important social and life skills can be lost. For some young people with a disability, learning new skills can take some considerable time, and those skills can become eroded quite quickly if they are not maintained. The same can be said of vocational skills as well. Therefore, it is vital to have a clear and seamless transition for those young people who are able to and who are seeking to engage in supported employment and education.

There is also a need to provide opportunities for genuine social inclusion and potential life skills learning for young people who may have a more complex or moderate to severe disability. Each year in the ACT, according to the Community Services Directorate, approximately 50 young people with disability leave public school education. For most young people this can be a time of change and excitement as they start to exercise more independence, seek employment or go on to further education and training. However, for some young people and their families, it is a time of great stress as they search for positive, meaningful and sustainable post-school options.

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