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Government refuses to tackle disabilities crisis.



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SENATOR RACHEL SIEWERT

Government refuses to tackle disabilities crisis

Senator Siewert, 12th February 2007

"Last week the Senate heard how people with disabilities are some of the most disadvantaged in our community, but this week the Howard Government are washing their hands of any responsibility for the growing shortfall in services," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

The Department of Family and Community Services [FaCSIA] told Senate estimates today that the Government would not be committing additional resources to tackle growing unmet need in disability support services -- despite the unanimous recommendation of a Senate inquiry last week that extra funding was the number one priority.

"While the government recognises that unmet need is a growing problem, federal funding for disability services will not rise in real terms. The government will only commit to monitoring the growing need for support services and will continue to blame the shortfall on the States," said Senator Siewert.

Senate Estimates heard today that a letter from the Commonwealth to states and territories about renegotiation of the disabilities agreement identified unmet need as one of four key priorities.

"We know that there is already not enough support services to go around, and we know that with an ageing population the problem will only continue to get worse," she said.

"The Howard Government has got to stop playing politics with disabilities. It has the resources if it cares to use them, and the Community Affairs Committee report provides an excellent roadmap," said Senator Siewert.

"It is time to show some national leadership and some heart."

For more information or comment call Chris Twomey on 0407 725 025