The Hon. GREG DONNELLY I direct my question to the Minister for Disability Services. Will the Minister outline the innovative approaches being developed to assist people with a disability?
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: I congratulate the Hon. Greg Donnelly on asking that question.
The Hon. John Ryan: Point of order: I do not wish to be in any way disparaging on the member's first question without notice but the question was: Will the Minister outline innovative new measures. That would indicate that the Minister was being asked to outline new policy, which, as I understand it, is against the standing orders.
The Hon. Peter Primrose: To the point of order: "Innovative" is not "new". "New measures" do not mean policy. In any case, my recollection is that the word "new" was not mentioned.
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: To the point of order: My understanding of the member's question was that he asked me to outline innovative approaches being developed to assist people with a disability. I thank him for his question.
The PRESIDENT: Order! The question asks the Minister to outline "innovative approaches", which does not necessarily constitute a request for an announcement of government policy. The question is in order.
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: It is my privilege to answer the first question asked in this Chamber by the Hon. Greg Donnelly. The Inclusion of Communication and Behaviour Support program delivers simple, proven techniques for communicating with people with disabilities to increase their participation in the lives of their families, friends and community. A similar program in Victoria has assisted in reducing by 70 per cent violent assaults in the regions in which it was introduced. The Inclusion of Communication and Behaviour Support program is delivered by speech pathologists with extensive experience in direct service delivery to people with disabilities in group homes and large residences.
Under this program, specialist speech pathologists visit group homes and large residences, deliver classroom-based training, provide practical material to use in the workplace and follow up implementation. The program assumes that challenging behaviour is a form of communication, that is, it is a response to needs not being understood or met by families, friends and others in the community. The program intends to improve communication between staff and the people with disabilities that they support. The department is testing this program with approximately 90 staff in the Hunter and metropolitan north regions. Another new project that the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care has instigated is the Active Support model.
I am not making an announcement. The honourable member should read the standing orders. The Centre for Developmental Disability Studies has been funded to trial the model with clients, staff and managers from five group homes in Sydney. Active Support represents a highly cost-effective intervention because group home staff apply their time in a very focused manner, which results in greater opportunities for people with disabilities to gain skills. I am also pleased to advise the House that the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care has implemented a new regional approach to information and referral known as reception, which provides a single point of contact in each region for people seeking information and assistance.
The new approach ensures that people who contact the department receive good quality customer service, that they are referred appropriately and that people with a disability are assisted to access mainstream services in their local community. These are just small examples of some of the changes— [Time expired.]
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate his answer?
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: More than $940 million will be allocated this financial year for disability services, representing more than a doubling of funding since 1996. The Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care supports more than 13,000 people each day across a range of services delivered by government and non-government providers, or a total of 80,000 clients a year. In this financial year funding of $455 million will be provided for accommodation support services—up by more than $230 million since 1996. This funding assists more than 5,000 people in accommodation provided directly by government and non-government service providers. An amount of $137 million has been allocated in 2004-05 for respite services, representing a doubling of funding since 1996. This included an extra $3.2 million this financial year and for future years, providing an additional 400 flexible respite care packages each year.
Around $180 million a year is spent on services for children and young people across a range of early intervention, respite, therapy and post-school support services. Under the boarding house reform strategy this Government has assisted more than 440 residents with high support needs into more appropriate accommodation. The Government provides $5.7 million annually for resident support services. The Local Support Co-ordination Program, which operates in 55 areas of the State, employs 29 co-ordinators at a total program cost of more than $3 million. This program assists individuals and families to plan for the long term and to prevent crisis.