The Hon. PETER PRIMROSE: My question without notice is to the Minister for Community Services. What action has the Government taken to appoint a chairperson to the Disability Council of New South Wales?
The Hon. CARMEL TEBBUTT: The Disability Council of New South Wales is an extremely important body established under legislation, and plays an important role in both providing independent advice to the Government and also monitoring the implementation of government policy in relation to people with a disability and their families. It provides advice to the Government on the effect and relevance of services to people with a disability and their families; the priorities to be accorded to services; and the role of voluntary organisations in relation to service provision. The council also plays a valuable role in promoting the integration of people with a disability into the community, and promoting awareness of matters concerning disability issues to the wider community. The Government is particularly committed to promoting community awareness of disability issues.
I take this opportunity to advise the House that on 3 December we will be celebrating the International Day of People with a Disability. With that in mind, I am pleased to advise that I have appointed Mr Andrew Buchanan as Chairperson of the Disability Council of New South Wales. Mr Buchanan has a strong communications background, and succeeds Ms Leonie Manns, whose term has expired. Ms Manns has done an extremely good job as chair of the Disability Council and has undertaken some very important initiatives and reform. She has provided the former Minister with extremely valuable and important advice. I know the former Minister for Disability Services would want me to express our appreciation to Ms Leonie Manns for her exceptional work as chair of the council.
As a person with a disability himself, Mr Buchanan is well qualified to provide advice to the Government on issues which affect the disability sector, their families, and carers. His strong communications background as a senior manager with the ABC, and in private enterprise, will make him invaluable in promoting community awareness of matters concerning people with a disability. Mr Buchanan also has great experience in facilitating organisational change. This will be particularly useful as the Government continues to develop the role of the Department of Disability, Ageing, and Home Care, and to improve service delivery for people with a disability throughout New South Wales.
The council is extremely active in researching and responding to disability issues. It has, for instance, provided advice to both this Government, and the Federal Government, on the effect of the Federal budget on people with a disability. During next year it will consult with people with a disability from various culturally and linguistically diverse countries—with a focus on the Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Italian, Spanish, and Vietnamese communities. It is conducting research into the experiences of parents with a disability with their children's school education in New South Wales. I have met with both the council and delegations from the council on a number of occasions and the council is extremely valuable in providing independent advice to the Government on disability issues. I believe that Mr Buchanan's appointment as chairperson will add a new dimension to the work of the council. I believe he will do much to promote the vision of the council—that difference is to be celebrated, included, and valued. Disability should be regarded as a social responsibility, rather than an individual problem. I welcome the appointment of Mr Buchanan as chairperson of the council.