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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 May 2015) . . Page.. 1589 ..

Social inclusion is not an add-on or an afterthought to the regular business of government; it is at the heart of what we are trying to achieve. In my first speech to the Assembly as Chief Minister, in February this year, I outlined my priorities for the government. As I said then, we live in a prosperous city, and it is our responsibility to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be a contributing and valued member of our community. We must build on the strong base that Minister Berry has outlined in her statement today.

We have brought forward reforms that mean the territory is leading the country in many different areas, such as legislative reform through the Human Rights Act and the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act; public housing renewal so that vulnerable people in our society can live with dignity in accommodation that is up to modern living standards and suits their particular needs; the ongoing rollout of the national disability insurance scheme, a distinctively Labor initiative that will ensure those living with a disability and their families and carers get the care and support they need; and implementing true community-based health care so that people with complex health needs are able to easily access treatment and preventative health support.

But, as always, there is more to do. My particular focus for the government in the next year is on practical measures, such as public housing renewal, to ensure we meet the needs of our tenants as best we can. Our city has a long and proud tradition of providing public housing that is part of and strengthens our wider local community. Given this long history, many of our homes are ageing and represent the standards of an earlier time.

So much flows from suitable and dignified accommodation—it is easier for kids to be prepared for school, it is easier for parents to seek or maintain employment, it is easier for individuals to make friends and form resilient communities. The cost of living is lower and environmental impact is reduced. That is why, over the next five years, the government will replace 1,288 of Canberra’s oldest, least efficient and, frankly, unsuitable homes with modern, efficient and comfortable dwellings. We will build this new housing right across our city to allow better integration into the local community. Much of this housing will be supportive housing, where the government and community organisations can deliver a range of services to tenants—things like Meals on Wheels and community nursing for our ageing tenants and those living with a disability.

Another practical step towards greater social inclusion is the rollout of the national disability insurance scheme. We are, as a jurisdiction, proudly leading the way as the only trial site that covers an entire jurisdiction. As Minister Berry noted, this will mean a doubling of investment in the disability sector by the end of this decade. But beyond the dollars and cents, the scheme is about showing those living with a disability that they are essential members of the community and we will do what we can to ensure they can reach their full potential. That was the federal Labor government’s mission when it developed and commenced the rollout of the NDIS, and it remains our mission now.

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