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Thursday, 30 September 1999
Page: 9268

Senator McKIERNAN —My question is directed to the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Newman. Can the minister confirm that the Gold Medal Disability Access Strategy is administered by the public relations firm IPR Shandwick and has a budget of $2.1 million? Can the minister inform the Senate how much was paid or will be paid to IPR Shandwick as their fee for services? Does this fee come out of the $2.1 million, or is it an additional amount? Can the minister outline the outcomes IPR Shandwick are expected to achieve for their fee?

Senator NEWMAN (Family and Community Services; Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women) —I did have some information here; I just do not know if I can find it quickly. IPR Shandwick are the successful tenderers for the Gold Medal Disability Access Strategy. I believe, from memory, that your figure is wrong, Senator. I have heard that figure quoted before, but I believe the figure is something like $1.2 million. By far and away, the majority of the expenditure will be on seminars which will be held in every state and located in the state capitals. The first of them has already been held in Hobart. I launched this program at Stadium Australia at Homebush some weeks ago. I am very pleased with the involvement of both the business and the disability communities in this because what it is about is making sure that businesses recognise they are losing a lot of business by not catering to the needs of people with disabilities. Something like one in five people in Australia have a disability. If you are a small business person or a big business person and you are ignoring that market, then you are mad. There are things you can do to increase the provision of goods and services to people with disabilities, as well as improving your bottom line.

I use this opportunity to tell anybody who happens to be listening this far along in question time that they should contact my department or IPR Shandwick, find out about the disability access program, find out about a seminar which will be held in their capital city and come on board. The program will culminate in about June next year with gold medal awards to businesses which do provide excellent access for people with disabilities—and not just the very visible disabilities. People who have hidden disabilities are in some ways more disadvantaged than anybody because nobody takes any care of them. They are not getting really good service.

Senator McKIERNAN —Madam President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for the response she has given me so far. I wonder if you would consult with your advisers and confirm the amount, whether it is $1.2 million or $2.1 million. Could you also inform the Senate how much of that amount—$2.1 million or $1.2 million—has been allocated towards each of the symposiums that are being held right across the country?

Senator NEWMAN (Family and Community Services; Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women) —I know I have not seen that latter figure, but I have seen the total figure and I can get you that certainly. I will see what I can do in terms of the break-up of the total amount, but that is the budgetary amount.

Senator Hill —Madam President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper .