29 May 2012

Adjournment debate – supported disability accomodation

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Mr SYMON (Deakin) (29th May 2012 22:13): Last month, on 27 April, I was very fortunate to have a visit from Senator Jan McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers. She came out to announce a wonderful funding program in my electorate of Deakin. This particular announcement was made under the Supported Accommodation Innovation Fund. It was an amount of $2.465 million. It will build six supported accommodation units in the middle of Ringwood.

Those people who know that part of Melbourne may also know that there is very little in the way of supported accommodation. In fact, there is very little in the way of available rental accommodation—full stop. It is a particularly tight market. To have such facilities built for people that need greater levels of care than normal and to allow them to have some form of independence while still having a carer within the building is certainly a great step forward.

The organisations that applied for the funding, Eastern Access Community Health and the Housing Resource and Support Service are well known in the local area and provide many services—obviously, not just in the area of disability but right across the range of community health services—and they are particularly keen proponents of the proposal.

They currently use the site I visited as an office for one of the many services that are spread around the municipality. But that is going to be taken down, and in its place is going to be built a double-storey building that, as I said, has six accommodation units, a unit for a carer and a common space, where the people who end up living there will be able to socialise. It is also close to services, and I think that is one of the most important things. Ringwood is a great area that has a lot of services in one point, and it is growing bigger and bigger as more services get attracted to what is a natural junction point for so many people in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

The Supported Accommodation Innovation Fund was a $60 million announcement, and I am very happy to say it delivers on a 2010 election commitment. Back in 2010 we committed to deliver 150 new supported accommodation and respite places across the country, and what this funding will do is deliver 169 places across 21 organisations and 27 projects. That is a great result. It is very good value for money, because it exceeds what we have promised with the original amount.

As I have said, the project is particularly useful in the local area, but it is also a follow-on from many things that we have done. I was very fortunate to have Senator McLucas out to conduct a roundtable of various disability organisations back in March. Also, prior to that, we did one last May. We ran the roundtable up at the MS Society’s Nerve Centre in Blackburn, which is a centralised service that is well used by many disability groups. We had a great turnout. We had there not only the parliamentary secretary and me but people from Huntington’s Victoria, the Epilepsy Foundation, Parkinson’s Victoria, the MS Society—of course—the Chronic Illness Alliance, Women with Disabilities, Children with Disability, BrainLink, Cystic Fibrosis Victoria, Every Australian Counts, Maroondah Halfway House and Yooralla, plus quite a few more.

In fact, the room was pretty much full to bursting point, and, as usually happens at these things, we ran out of time. The issues that were raised there about how an NDIS could benefit the people that were represented around that table made for a really fascinating conversation. It was especially fascinating to hear people who were sufferers of diseases, people who had various illnesses and people who had been born with disabilities talk about their experiences and their lot in life, as it were, and to find out that they were different depending on how their disability came about.

Only recently I was out at another community centre in my electorate and I spoke to a person who is now disabled for life. He was struck by a tree whilst camping. Although that could happen to anyone, the fact is that under an NDIS he would be covered, whereas at the moment he is not.

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