Page 2952 - Week 08 - Thursday, 17 August 2017

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The ACT government has commenced investigating ways to assist veterans to transition to new employment and volunteer opportunities, both within the ACT government and more broadly across the ACT. We will continue to work with our colleagues in organisations such as Soldier On, the RSL and the numerous other ex-service organisations in the ACT to meet this and other challenges faced by younger veterans, and we look forward to making further announcements regarding this in the future.

In this budget the government continues its participation grants program, where we will be providing funding to organisations that support veterans in the ACT. This year we will be particularly focusing on programs that ensure that veterans remain actively engaged in our society, whether through sport, the arts, skills development and training or other programs promoting social connectedness. We will be providing grants of up to $10,000 to help those organisations that aim to ensure that our veterans are integral and active participants in the ACT community and those who are supporting the families of veterans. I commend to the Assembly a budget that supports our efforts in regard to these important parts of our community.

MS LEE (Kurrajong) (4.55): The budget allocation for the Community Services Directorate is significant, with an allocation of $257 million in recurrent and capital injections and 593 FTE directly employed. My focus today is the work done to support people with a disability. When the ACT first announced it was transitioning its disability clients to the NDIS, starting in 2014, there was great excitement and enormous optimism. Three years later, there are still a great many teething problems.

Organisations and clients are falling through the cracks; some are being propped up with short-term funding but with no real direction and certainty; and there is increasing scepticism within a number of sectors that the right balance is yet to be found. Perhaps, as the leading site for the rollout of the NDIS, it is to be expected that there would be many grey areas. However, from talking with various groups within and on the periphery of the disability sector, many fear that things may not be better than before.

During the estimates hearings the minister acknowledged that while there had been a lot of people who had had good experiences with the NDIS, there were and are others still experiencing difficulties across a number of areas: understanding the best direction to take; finding the right plan manager; navigating through a whole new world of service providers competing for work; having significant issues raised about participant pathways; having unexpected outcomes from plan reviews; having delays in getting plans reviewed or adjusted; and encountering the absolute inflexibility to change just one element of a particular participant’s plan. That is to name a few of the common issues that were brought to my attention.

During her estimates attendance, the minister referenced the work of the Disability Reform Council and said that this and a number of other issues were being worked through in this forum. Reference was also made to the work of the senior officers working group, who advocate on behalf of the community and the participants in the ACT who are experiencing problems with their plans.

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