State Budget and Disability Services



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SpeakersSpeaker; Gibbons Ms Melanie; Constance Mr Andrew
BusinessQuestions Without Notice, QWN



STATE BUDGET AND DISABILITY SERVICES
Page: 5386

Ms MELANIE GIBBONS: My question is addressed to the Minister for Ageing, and Minister for Disability Services. How does the budget deliver on the Government's commitment to ageing and disability services?

Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: I thank the member for Menai for this important question. The budget handed down on Tuesday is one of hope, opportunity and delivery for people with disabilities, their carers and families, and seniors across New South Wales. It is a budget that sets in train a five-year funding program—a record—to provide $2 billion of new moneys for disability services, providing some 47,000 new additional places for people with disabilities. In 2011-12 the O'Farrell Government will be spending $2.8 billion on services run through the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care. That is a $342 million increase, or about 14 per cent, on last year's budget. It enables us to partner with some 900 organisations around the State to allocate of the order of $1.9 billion in subsidies and grants to provide services across the board to families throughout this State.

As part of this year's budget we are outlaying some $82 million in capital expenditure, and we are also outlaying $137 million in new moneys to support services. That means $22 million is set aside for supported accommodation—some 300 places. It means 100 supported living funding packages being provided to families across the State so that they are diverted from crisis. It also means that $15 million is being spent on community participation as we transition some 500 students from the education system into the disability support system. What is particularly pleasing about the budget is the record level of expenditure around the regions.

We are spending some $1.2 billion in rural and regional New South Wales in the next 12 months. We are also spending, on a regional basis, in western Sydney $659 million on disability services. In other regions, such as the Hunter, we are spending $328 million, on the Central Coast it is $102 million, in the Illawarra $146 million, and in the St George and Sutherland area we are spending $211 million. That is money that is going directly into disability support services in communities, targeting those families and those individuals that have been crying out for enormous support over such a long time. This is record expenditure, unsurpassed in the history of New South Wales and unmatched by any other jurisdiction in the Commonwealth.

In the areas of ageing and in seniors we are increasing the home and community care budget by some $42 million. This is money that has been earmarked to divert people from nursing home beds and hospital beds, to keep them in their homes longer. So we are providing that $42 million to continue to provide around 40,000 supports each month for the seniors across the State. An amount of $6 million has been set aside for the Ageing Grants Program, which is designed to provide support to seniors around the State, valuable services such as the Seniors Information Service, Seniors Week and Dementia Advisory Services. One of the key and important aspects of this budget relates to payroll tax exemptions for employers who take on employees with disability from the Transition to Work Program, which is an $8 million four-year program.

It will provide and offer up rebates of approximately $4,000 for each business that is willing to take on an employee with disabilities. I can inform the House that it was warmly endorsed by Nova Employment, which welcomed these measures and saw them as particularly exciting. In the area of disability services and ageing the New South Wales budget has been warmly endorsed by a number of sectors around the State: for example, the Council of Social Service of New South Wales, and National Disability Services. They paid tribute to the work that has been put into this budget during tough budgetary times.

Ms MELANIE GIBBONS: I ask the Minister to elucidate his answer.

Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: As I was saying, the Government has received warm endorsements for its budget from organisations around this State, including the Council of Social Service of New South Wales and National Disability Services. In particular, National Disability Services recognised the leadership of the O'Farrell-Stoner Government during a tough budget. If the Government did not employ the tough discipline it has employed throughout this process it would not have been able to quarantine this significant investment into the area of disability services and ageing. That work certainly safeguarded these programs. Let me refer to what has been said by members of the Opposition. During this budget week I have not heard one public statement by the shadow Minister for Disability Services and Ageing relating to disability services and ageing. The Leader of the Opposition made no mention of disability services and ageing in his budget reply which he made yesterday.

The SPEAKER: Order! Members of the Opposition will come to order. I call the member for Auburn to order.

Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: We did have one tweet from the member for Heffron, who warmly endorsed the Government's program for disability services and ageing. The member for Heffron knows better than any member that if Eric Roozendaal were the Treasurer we would not have seen that funding. However, Treasurer Mike Baird worked hard to ensure that this budget was delivered. The Premier gave his commitment and word to disability services and we have delivered.