Page 2953 - Week 08 - Thursday, 17 August 2017

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

CSD Director-General Michael De’Ath told the committee that he had been given “very clear direction on the ongoing role of the territory government and the directorate in relation to support, advocacy and oversight for all those people who are either affected or are supporting people with a disability”. He went on to say that the reason for establishing the office for disability and staffing it with appropriate skills was to “ensure that these ongoing roles and functions are carried out; in particular, the high level, ongoing nature of negotiations and discussions with the commonwealth”.

Mr Assistant Speaker, I am encouraged to hear that the issues raised by the ACT government in its submission to the Productivity Commission review of the financial sustainability of the NDIS are continuing to be discussed. It is not unreasonable to expect that contingencies be anticipated and addressed. Many of the glitches have been administrative in nature and are fixable. Payment processes and the online portal, plan design issues, streamlining review processes for plans, additional training and resources for planners—these can all be addressed and improved. I acknowledge the work of the federal Liberal government in having addressed many of these initial issues and the work it is doing to continue to improve the NDIS experience for all participants.

But I remain concerned that while there is a high level policy focus in the senior officials groups and the Disability Reform Council at the ACT level—indeed, the minister just said that the role of the ACT government is to provide ownership and policy leadership—on the issues that directly affect people who live day to day with a disability, the government is failing to provide core support or confidence. These are the people and groups who do not fit neatly into the predetermined NDIS world and seem to now have no-one to turn to. Before the introduction of the NDIS, they did. It was through the ACT Community Services Directorate. Given the relatively small funding for the office and the small amount in the budget for disability access grants of $50,000 a year to fund training, increased awareness and infrastructure modifications for community organisations, the real concern is that this is rhetoric rather than real value.

We have seen the ongoing issues with a number of not-for-profit groups who, in some instances, have been operating for decades, safe in the knowledge that they had the ongoing support of the ACT government to deliver much needed support services to the Canberra community. An example I draw to the attention of members, one that the minister brought up herself today, is the debate that we had in this very chamber about the future of SHOUT and the 47 groups that it supports, the 47 groups that are sitting uneasy with SHOUT’s future up in the air. Some of these are the groups that risk closure because their only failing is that they do not fit neatly into the NDIS defined disability mould. Many of them do not qualify for transitional funding because they will not be transitioning to the NDIS. In some cases, they could be reasonably categorised as allied health; however, when I brought forward the motion imploring the government to support SHOUT earlier this year, the government dismissed many of these groups as disability groups and, therefore, not the responsibility of ACT Health.

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