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Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Page: 979

Mr HUNT (5:46 PM) —In addressing the Disability Discrimination and Other Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2008 I want to begin with the words of the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services. He spoke fine words, powerful words, words with which I do not disagree, but words to which I shall hold him accountable. I say this to the member for Maribyrnong, the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services: you are right when you talk about the need for independence for those with disabilities, whether physical or mental, whether in terms of the impairment of eyesight or other elements, but that power is in part within your gift. When the parliamentary secretary says, ‘Those with disabilities should not have to do all the work for themselves,’ he is again right, but it is my task now to say to him that we have a challenge with real people on the Mornington Peninsula which has been with him for over a year, and I want to use this bill to address a serious issue of denial of support and assistance for those with disabilities on the Mornington Peninsula.

The Frankston-Peninsula Carers Inc. of Mornington Peninsula put forward a plan for supported accommodation in Hastings. It is for people with intellectual disabilities, whether inherent or acquired, who are seeking the simple proposition of independent but supported living. That proposal was announced and supported by the previous government. I would ask that the parliamentary secretary take note of this. It has been with him for over a year, and all his words are fine words, but he alone is the person with the ability to turn those words into action and, for all those words, we have not had a response, we have not had an answer and we have not had a result. So it is a fine thing to stand before the dispatch box in this House and say how much one cares, but when you have the power, the authority, the legislative ability, the financial capacity and the moral purpose but you do not deal with that issue—and despite having made such a fine speech—then there are simple questions. Somebody has to stand up for people such as Beryl and David Gibb, Karl Hill, Don Hodgins and those who are members of and working with the Frankston-Peninsula Carers Inc. That group is seeking to establish a form of supported accommodation, was on the cusp of achieving that prior to the election and was dumbfounded after the election to find that the responsibility had been transferred to the state—and the state has said it is a federal responsibility, such that nobody is responsible.

My message, very simply, gives a short, brief response to this bill, which is that for all the words spoken by the government’s representative—all fine, all sustainable, all real, all important—make them reality by really taking the time to bring this one centre into being. We had a plan, a proposal—a program—but it was taken away after the election. So, for those carers who are elderly, who are concerned about their own ability to care for adults with intellectual disability and who want to give their children both the security and the independence of supported accommodation, this bill is the moment—this bill is the opportunity. If the parliamentary secretary’s words are to mean anything, I would ask him to remember the conversation we had in his office, I would ask him to do more than smile and say, ‘Yes, I’ll do something, mate,’ and I would ask him to actually deliver a result. We had a program, a proposal and something that was about to be achieved, and the parents who have lived for 20 and 30 years, sometimes 40 years, taking care of children on the Mornington Peninsula just want to give their kids independence and a way forward.

So I support this bill. It is a fine bill. It is drawn in large part from the Productivity Commission’s 2004 Review of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. I am not going to take issue or engage on the detail; the bill captures what is necessary. But if the parliamentary secretary, who is somebody whom I respect, means the words he said today, he will help find a solution and not just claim that it is a state responsibility, because the states claim that he is responsible for the parents and the children who have now become adults with a disability on the Mornington Peninsula. There is one test, one outcome. Make this bill a reality, Parliamentary Secretary, by giving the Frankston-Peninsula Carers Inc. a solution for their supported accommodation in Hastings.