Page 2649 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 11 August 2015

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Australians in Canberra. The agreement commits to reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians, and all sides emphasise that cooperation, consensus and collective action are necessary and that the ACT government, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, service providers and the wider community all have a responsibility in meeting this vision. The 2015-16 ACT budget builds on both the goodwill and the understanding that the agreement brings, and continues the successes that ACT Indigenous policies deliver.

The ACT government is spearheading two main initiatives in this year’s budget. The first is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tobacco control strategy. Indigenous Australians are 2.6 times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to be smokers, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. To reduce Indigenous smoking rates in the ACT, the strategy aims to prevent people from taking up smoking, reduce rates of smoking and increase quit attempts, increase access to tobacco control, and raise awareness of the health issues surrounding smoking.

The second is expanding the growing healthy families program. The program is a resource designed to provide practical advice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, carers and professionals in the ACT, to help families stay connected to culture and community and to find ways of staying strong together. This is done by providing access to culturally informed services. Some $624,000 has already been committed for growing healthy families in the 2015-16 budget, with a further $640,000 committed for 2016-17.

The 2015-16 ACT budget builds on the successes of previous ACT budgets. It is great news not only for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans who directly benefit, and the Indigenous organisations who rely on continued funding to deliver their superb quality of services, but also for the wider community who benefit as a whole.

MR WALL (Brindabella) (8.36): I rise to speak to the budget line items relating to the areas of disability, Indigenous affairs and youth, all falling under the Community Services Directorate. I would like first to direct my remarks to disability and the continued changes it faces in the wake of the commencement of the NDIS in the ACT.

Minister Burch, as the Minister for Disability, continues to spruik her ideology that all is well within the disability sector, and even earlier this year presented a motion on disability inclusion, on which I spoke with caution regarding the potential for overreach with the aspirational language used by the minister. Her response was, “I think we on this side want to overreach for people with a disability. We want to aim high.” The minister fails to understand that there is a significant difference between aiming high and actually delivering. Failure to deliver in this sector can have huge ramifications for the quality of life of these people.

Matters considered as part of the estimates process included the progress of transition to the NDIS, and in particular issues that have arisen from that transition, such as the reimbursement for service providers regarding cash flow issues arising between the cessation of block funding and clients transitioning, including budgeted contingency, length of time that organisations are waiting for reimbursement and time frames for verification of submissions for reimbursement.

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