Page 530 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 18 February 2015

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Last year the commonwealth and ACT governments invested $1.5 million to help service providers better understand their business and what they need to do to adopt and adapt to the NDIS environment. This year will see further investment in the sector. I believe that by supporting our organisations to prepare for the NDIS, we are supporting a more robust and effective sector here.

With this in mind, it is indeed a shame that there are organisations in the community sector that have had their money slashed by the commonwealth government and that remain in a time of financial uncertainty, as Ms Porter has touched upon. Ms Lawder seems to celebrate that the Liberal Party will attack the community sector and defends the cut to their funding.

This government recognises that inclusion and equality matter for people, particularly for people with a disability. They want to achieve and live and be valued as part of this community.

Like other states and territories, the government is committed to achieving inclusion and equity by continuing to support the national disability strategy. We will be developing the new disability inclusion statement, which will set out a guiding vision for an inclusive Canberra community that enables Canberrans with disability to fulfil their potential.

I look at some of the community organisations that are under financial threat from the commonwealth government. The Nican organisation and others have been defunded, and this was in the weeks before Christmas. It is a vital organisation that serves our community well and that will no longer be supported and funded through the commonwealth.

It is widely recognised that Canberra has a thriving community sector with unique relationships with government and an ability to work together to deliver the best outcomes for the community we serve. We have a high population of people that are willing to volunteer in the community. This shows an incredible commitment and is testament to the level of social conscience in a public service town. There is an extraordinary level of volunteerism from within the public service.

As Ms Porter has articulated in her speech, we are fortunate in the ACT not only in that we have some of the lowest unemployment in all of Australia but also in that we have incredibly high participation in both volunteer and paid employment. Our community sector is a growing sector. It currently employs approximately 4,000 individuals, many of these across the 150 organisations that the ACT government has a financial partnership with.

I want to go to a few comments that came up in this debate. It is true that we live in a prosperous city—indeed, what is recognised as simply the world’s best city in which to live. But, as Ms Porter has articulated, there is a sustained attack on Canberra. We see people losing their jobs; we see services closing. Ms Porter made mention of one, the Karralika family service, which is unique here and will no longer be provided with funding.

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