26 September 2023

Assembly calls for more PS staff with disability

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The ACT Government has been called on to hire more people living with disability to be chosen for roles in the ACT Public Service.

Ordered by the Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Health and Community Wellbeing in its Review of ACT Health Programs — Children and young people and responses to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) report, the Committee found that misconceptions and stigmas around disability were present in the ACT health system.

Chair of the Committee, Johnathan Davis MLA said the evidence suggested these attitudes contributed to poor outcomes for patients, including, in extreme cases, a misinterpretation of medically caused behaviour as criminal behaviour.

“Despite making up 18 per cent of the ACT population, people with a disability accounted for only 3.4 per cent of staff in the ACT Health Directorate and 1.8 per cent of staff in Canberra Heath Services in the period 2019-2020,” Mr Davis said.

He cited a submission to the Review from Advocacy for Inclusion, which said increasing the number of people with a disability could contribute to an organisation’s understanding of disability.

The focus of the Review was on ACT health programs for children and young people, including foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

Mr Davis said the disorder, a lifelong condition with no cure, occurred when a fetus was exposed to alcohol during pregnancy and resulted in a range of birth defects and impairments.

“Many cases are not diagnosed,” the Chair said.

“Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is preventable,” he said.

“The Committee strongly encourages the ACT Government to do more to raise awareness of the condition and invest in suitable programs to detect and manage the disorder.”

The Committee made 14 recommendations, including that the ACT Government improve early detection of disability in the ACT and establish these services for FASD.

It also called for the establishment of measures to address shortcomings in FASD screening and diagnosis to determine the prevalence of the disorder in the Territory, and that the ACT advocate for easier access to NDIS for people with the disorder.

The Committee’s 49-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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