Michelle Lensink

Metropolitan Fire Service

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Emergency Services a question about disability action plans in her portfolio.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The fourth progress report on the implementation of disability action plans was tabled this week in parliament and its foreword, written by the Minister for Disability, states that promoting independence is about demonstrating that government is serious about addressing disability discrimination at all levels of the public sector. The public sector should be the exempt player in this area and a model of what could and should be done by organisations to ensure they are inclusive and free of discriminatory practices. Under outcome 1 in relation to SAFECOM it states that SAMFS is in the process of developing an access plan following an audit of all buildings and that the SAFECOM procurement management office is factoring disability access into new capital works planning and facility constructions. A budget bid will form part of the next round of funding requests for DCS. My questions are:

1. Will the minister advise of the progress of the implementation of disability action plans in her portfolio and, in particular, when will the access plan of SAMFS be completed?

2. Will the minister outline some details of the procurement management office’s submission?

The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO (Minister for Emergency Services): I do not have that information which the honourable member has requested with me. I will undertake to get a response and bring back a reply.

Monday 12 September 2005

In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (26 May).

The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO:

1. All agencies in the emergency services sector have been advised by the Justice Portfolio Managing Diversity Reference Group of the Government's goal to improve and promote independence for people with disabilities. As a result, any plans for building development, refurbishment and/or maintenance are assessed for their compliance with access provisions for people with various disabilities.

As many SA Country Fire Service (SACFS) and SA State Emergency Service (SASES) properties are leased from local government authorities there is often limited scope to address disability access provisions. However, the vast majority of these buildings do not conduct public business. By their very nature they are there to store appliances and equipment and to enable the volunteers to be trained and to respond to fire and other emergencies.

Whilst the SA Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) does own its station buildings, like the SACFS and the SASES they are infrequently visited by the public and/or have no access issues.

The nature of the work performed by the emergency services agencies precludes the appointment of people with some disabilities in operational roles. However, all emergency services agencies have very active programs for the placement and/or support of volunteers and staff who suffer partial or temporary disability as a result of illness or injury, irrespective of whether it is related to their work. Significant progress in implementing disability access plans including the MFS, has been made, however it is yet to be fully realised. There have been no significant access issues reported within the emergency service sector.

2. There appears to have been a misunderstanding caused by the editing of the Fourth Progress Report. The submission' referred to in this question relates to the Department for Correctional Services' budget bid as part of the next round of funding requests. It is not related to any activities being undertaken by the SAFECOM procurement management office in factoring disability access into new capital works planning and facility constructions. No budget bid has been required for this to be achieved.

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