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People with disabilities win guideline change

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Senator Grant Tambling Shadow Minister for Community Services, External Territories and Northern Australia

Media Release


People with disabilities have won an important change to the Disability Services Act following an amendment by the new Shadow Minister for Community Services, Senator Grant Tambling.

Senator Tambling moved the successful amendment in the Senate last night, gaining support from the Australian Democrats and eventually the Federal Government.

The amendment called for guidelines under Section 5 of the DSA to be formulated and brought before Parliament in an amendable form. The Federal Government wanted the yet-to-be-formulated guidelines to come in as "disallowable instruments" and therefore not amendable.

Senator Tambling - speaking on the Health, Housing and Community Services Legislation Amendment Bill 1992 - said the Federal Coalition had long called for changes to the Disability Services Act to provide more flexibility and certainty to people with

disabilities, their families and service providers.

"We proposed that the guidelines be formulated and brought before Parliament for debate, and amended if necessary, so that the criteria for funding of services would be clearly laid down.

"We also proposed that the transition date - the period in which financial assistance for prescribed services and for upgrading prescribed services is payable - be extended to give existing services more time to adapt to the requirements of the DSA."

Senator Tambling said he was pleased the Bill removed the

transition date and provided ongoing funding to prescribed services (in existence pre-1987) meeting minimum standards.

"Unfortunately the Federal Labor Government did not accept our amendments providing for security of contracts between the Government and the service provider, as well as an appeals procedure.

"The Federal Government also rejected our proposal that service- type "supported employment services" be amended to include specifically work crews, small businesses, enclaves, individual supported jobs and sheltered workshops."

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Senator Tambling called for an assurance from the Federal Government that new services for people with disabilities would include a significant proportion of people with severe


"I sought an assurance that the substantial gains criteria would apply to the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service for people with more severe disabilities, and that the proportion of people with severe disabilities receiving a service from CRS would be maintained."

In response, Senator Michael Tate told Senator Tambling:

"I am able to assure the Opposition that the concept of substantial gain will remain the significant test for access to CRS programs. In this context, no

circumstances will arise from the legislation which will alter the general level of assistance to people with more severe disabilities indicated in the

evidence given to the Senate Standing Commitee on Community Affairs." (Senate Hansard 22.6.92)

ENDS Contact: Senator Tambling 06-2773436 Tiz Zeroni 06-2773436