Page 2660 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 11 August 2015
Seniors are asking to see increased accessibility in our transport system, an increase in the frequency of bus services and close proximity to residences for pick-ups and drop-offs. Light rail cannot provide this. If Canberra really were an age-friendly city, this government would not be asking our elderly to walk to a bus stop, catch a bus, ride on the light rail and then, most likely, catch another bus from the city. Keep in mind, this is only one way—it has to be done all again on the way home.
This is what the government is serving up to our senior citizens, and this is where the Minister for Ageing is not standing up for his ageing constituents. Their rates are tripling and their cost of living is going up, but the government is spending millions of dollars on a light rail system that will not serve the needs of the Canberra community. The government needs to recognise the difficulties facing our ageing population and start listening to the community.
MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Racing and Gaming and Minister for the Arts) (9.11): I welcome the chance to talk on this line in regard to disability services in the ACT. It is absolutely understood in this place that the disability sector is undergoing significant change in the ACT. Members no doubt will be aware that that is a result of the national disability insurance scheme and that over the next 12 months all eligible people in the ACT—some 5,000 of our community members—will have transitioned to the scheme. I acknowledge Sue Chapman, Deputy Director-General of Community Services, and Ian Hubbard, who are here tonight to see this line through the budget debate. I want to thank them and their colleagues, from front-line services right through to the executive, for the fabulous work the Community Services Directorate, Disability ACT and Therapy ACT do each and every day for members of our community.
The NDIS represents an exciting opportunity for people with a disability, their families and their carers. I have heard firsthand from many of their excitement and dreams for the opportunities the national disability insurance scheme will bring for them. The commonwealth and ACT governments continue to invest in initiatives to help people to prepare for the NDIS. Over $21 million is the value of those initiatives. From this the commonwealth has approved over $12 million to fund the ACT and work with our community sector to build their capacity and to build the capacity of the community so that service providers, families and people with a disability can prepare and plan for the NDIS.
Currently we are investing $6 million in projects such as a new program to work across community to reach people who may not yet be linked to formal services, to make sure that they are supported and connected through to the NDIS; a dedicated program for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members with a disability and their families, to make sure that they are supported in this transition; and a program with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations, for them to be prepared for the NDIS so they in turn can support their community. We are also providing business investment packages and governance and financial management grants into the community sector.