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Wednesday, 9 May 1984
Page: 1851

Senator KILGARIFF(5.21) —I wish briefly to discuss the report on technology and handicapped people. It is a report to the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) by the Australian Science and Technology Council prepared by the Technological Change Committee. I was most interested, as were other senators, to read of the number of disabled people within our community. As Senator Coleman has said, some 8.6 per cent of the population or more than one and a quarter million Australians are disabled. Of course, that is an immense number and a surprising figure. That represents one in 12 people in the community. In moving through the community one starts to realise that of course this figure is correct. There are so many institutions and associations, for example, in schools or in homes that cater for the disabled person. Wherever one moves these days one finds disabled people.

It takes a report such as this to make one consider whether enough is being done for disabled people. After looking at the six recommendations contained in the report and the thought that went into these recommendations, I think it would be agreed that there is much more scope for action, whether it be by the Federal Government or the State governments. However, I hesitate to say 'the community'. It seems to me that most of the action these days in regard to disabled people comes from church and community organisations. One must commend them for the work they are doing today under extreme difficulties. I say that they are working under extreme difficulties because it is only in the last few days-while the Senate has been sitting-that I have, in a small way, been involved in the problems of a sheltered workshop. The sheltered workshop is having difficulty in getting trained people to work for it and to participate. It seems to me that such workers are in very short supply. The organisation I am speaking of is associated with children in the heart of Australia. It is looking for trained people not within the region now, but throughout Australia who can participate and help.

I support this report to the Prime Minister very much. I have no doubt that the Federal Government will appreciate the value of such a report. Of course, I expect-no doubt it will happen-that when the report is brought to the Government 's attention and it looks at the recommendations we will see some action. Action is most necessary. Once again I return to the six recommendations of the report which are well and truly backed by fact. Of course, these recommendations should be supported. I make one recommendation too. I go back to the point I made before: I believe that community and church organisations need to be given much more assistance. Of course, finance is a major part. I think the time has come when we must take further action by training people to work in an area in which one in 12 people in Australia is disabled.

Question resolved in the affirmative.