Page 840 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Adding to the mix of disaffected participants and anxiety is the ACT-based organisation SHOUT. SHOUT—Self Help Organisations United Together—is a not-for-profit organisation that provide self-help and support in the ACT. They have been operating in the ACT for more than 35 years. In July last year, concerned that their transitional funding would cease in June this year, they approached the ACT government for assistance and advice, looking for some certainty in the context of an uncertain environment. They were forced to do the rounds of government directorates, pushed from Health to disability and back again. They sought meetings with the Minister for Health, who was then the assistant minister, with no satisfactory responses.

Finally, in late August, they secured a meeting with an adviser from the Minister for Health’s office. In September they were advised that a brief had been prepared to “go up the line” and that the directorate or the minister’s office would be in touch “once a recommendation had been made”. In early November another meeting was sought. In late November the adviser they had met with in August told them he would be briefing the minister. In December, with Christmas a week away, they were told that the directorate had not seen the brief but they would be in touch in January.

In January SHOUT were told there was no update. In early February they were told that the brief was “under consideration”. In late February they were told that “the minister is busy but the brief is under consideration”. Earlier this month, when I asked questions of the minister for disability during the annual reports hearings, she stated that SHOUT was panicking for no reason, that all they needed to do was to submit an application under the information linkages and capacity building framework.

Perhaps in an effort to resile from any responsibility to the group, when I asked questions of the Minister for Health, it was suggested that SHOUT really did not fit into the health space because only four or so of their member organisations have a “health focus”. When I discussed these claims with SHOUT, they told me that there were in fact at least nine health-related organisations as members, five of whom have permanent subleases, and that their health-related organisations use up more than 200 hours of SHOUT’s meeting rooms per year.

Despite all the briefings and all the apparent concern for the future of this organisation, it seems that the ACT government has failed or refused to find out exactly what work SHOUT does, the extent of the impact of their work, the extent of the reliance of their member organisations on SHOUT and their integral and unique place in our community.

How far removed is this from the optimistic but clearly now misplaced or even misleading statement from the then Minister for Disability in 2013 that “meeting the needs of people with a disability is best achieved through a growing and diverse non-government sector where the sector offers a wide range of choices”? It is disingenuous for the minister to use the availability of the ILCB funding through the NDIS as the basis for withdrawing ACT funding.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video