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Wednesday, 13 May 1981
Page: 2371

(Question No. 773)

Mrs Kelly asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice, on 11 March 1981:

(1) Has he taken action to ensure that inventors and manufacturers in the Australian Capital Territory are being supported and encouraged by being given access to funding for the development of medical aids and equipment, such as wheelchairs, for disabled persons; if so, what action.

(2) What technical or commercially viable projects for improved equipment for disabled persons in the ACT have received funding in this International Year of Disabled Persons.

(3) What funds are available for this purpose for the remainder of 1981.

Mr Hodgman —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) I am advised by my Department that action has been taken by the ACT Advisory Committee for IYDP to encourage the involvement of all parts of our community in assisting disabled persons and is already well advanced. This has included, with the co-operation of the Confederation of ACT Industry, fostering of awareness and support of IYDP by way of an employer education programme directed to some 1,400 outlets. On an even broader plane through the Advisory Committee's Newsletter 'Delta', organisations and individuals are being encouraged to develop projects designed to assist disabled persons and to seek advice and assistance where that is needed.

The Assistance to Inventors Scheme administered by my colleague the Minister for Science and Technology, serves as an excellent means of encouraging individual initiative and provides for financial assistance, by way of a grant, of up to $10,000 for development of any one project including the support and testing of prototypes of inventions. Aids to assist disabled persons are covered by this scheme.

(2) A number of requests have been received by the Advisory Committee Secretariat in recent months for funding to assist the development of innovative projects aimed at assisting disabled persons in the ACT community-surveillance devices to safeguard autistic children, alarms to assist blind and visually impaired people crossing traffic intersections and a wheelchair with special features, for the physically disabled. A grant of $700 has already been paid to the autistic Children's Association of the ACT under a Special Childrens' Services Programme allocation to mark IYDP, to assist the development of various items of prototype equipment. A number of other inventions are being examined by the Advisory Committee for possible funding.

(3) As I have indicated, a well established scheme designed to encourage and support inventions operates at a national level. ACT inventors have access to that scheme. No funds have been set aside in the ACT specifically to assist the development of technical aids and equipment for disabled persons.