Kelly Vincent MLC - Appropriation Bill Speech to Parliament - 28/10/2010 12:10pm
Kelly Vincent MLC | Legislative Council
28 October 2010
Adjourned debate on second reading.
(Continued from 26 October 2010.)
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT (12:10): Thank you, sir. There I was saying earlier that I would be back later in the week; I am back on the same day, so how's that for organisation! As I said earlier, I have a number of concerns in relation to the budget and will speak briefly about them generally now. I do not wish to imply that I do not commend the government for increasing disability funding by 7.7 per cent. However, considering that unmet needs for disability services increased by approximately 30 per cent last year, it is simply not enough. I look at the extra 29 supported accommodation places provided, for example, and cannot help but think of the 1,000 people who are still waiting.
While the government has increased its funding, it is simply not coming close to keeping up with the need. I am worried that the 3.5 per cent increase provided to the NGOs who service the disability sector is insufficient to provide support to the 600 people who are waiting for therapy services, the 500 people waiting for respite, or the 1,000 people waiting for personal support services.
Just yesterday, my office received a desperate call from a mother whose daughter's distressing and challenging behaviours are worsening. It now takes this family a full hour to cajole their disabled daughter into the car to get her to school, or anywhere else for that matter. When this mother called her service provider she was told, with great regret, that it would take around six months on a waiting list until she could be provided with the help she needs in the home for her child and her family.
Tell me, Mr President, how many honourable members here today could live a truly productive life if it took them two hours to get in and out of a car. This family is, in fact, now so disabled by this lack of support that they face the shut-in lifestyle that we hear about far too often in the disability sector.
I am also concerned about cuts to Disability SA Client Trust Management. I have been told that the effective outsourcing of this department to the Public Trustee will add not only red tape but also more costs to the people using Disability SA services. These people are already living in poverty, having a disposable income of only around $55 per week.
As an artist I am concerned about the cuts to Arts SA and the realisation that there are even fewer art grants available to artists. For many artists it is grants that enable them to develop their work and their passion, and without these grants artists are left to fend for themselves, which is near impossible financially.
I am concerned that continued cuts to arts funding will lead to South Australia being an artistic backwater, to be frank. What the government should be looking at is supporting artists for them to be able to create great work so as to enhance the fabric of our society. Surely, if the government can invest in sports stadiums it can invest in its artists.
We have heard the Hon. Gail Gago, for example, talk on several occasions about the Act Now Theatre for Social Change and the project Expect Respect as an example of the important contribution that artists make to this great state. It saddens me very much to think that we will now have less of that.
We have all heard of the cuts to country hospitals, which may well lead to the closure of the Keith, Ardrossan and Moonta hospitals. I hope that the government will take heed of the hundreds of people who rallied on the steps of Parliament House yesterday.
And then there is education. I was ready to bang my chest about cuts to adult education funding, but I am pleased to note that the Minister for Education has realised the importance of this program to people over the age of 21 years and decided against implementing these cuts. I commend the government's spending $9 million to establish six new special education units for children with disabilities. However, I note that despite this students are still waiting for places in special education classes in mainstream schools. I believe in dignity through choice, and I believe that students with disabilities are not often enough provided with the support required to make a real choice.
All in all, I expected more from this budget. I hoped that the government would at least clear the unmet needs list for equipment, and I hoped that the government would prioritise some of the most vulnerable people in our community, but I am sorry to say that my hopes were largely dashed.