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October 11, 2011

The Federal Government is being urged to guarantee the long-term future of the MyTime program which provides respite for parents and carers of children with a disability.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester raised the issue in Federal Parliament after recently meeting with parents, carers and staff from a MyTime group in Sale.

He said the program was critical to the health and wellbeing of parents and carers who were able to get together on a regular basis and discuss issues of mutual concern.

“MyTime provides respite for mums, dads and grandparents, or anyone who is caring for a child with a disability. It gives them a couple of hours on a weekly or fortnightly basis to get together,” Mr Chester told Parliament.

“Their child with a disability is looked after by a professional carer while they have got the opportunity to meet and discuss issues of concern to them.

“Its ongoing funding is uncertain in the sense that groups are forced to fundraise to make sure they can afford to pay for the extra help. I call on both sides of the House to remain committed to this program and to ensure it continues into the future.”

In his speech, Mr Chester also referred to the Productivity Commission's final report into disability care and emphasised his personal support for a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“The current system of disability care and support is unsustainable, underfunded and unfair,” Mr Chester said.

“People need help today and it will require a multi-billion dollar commitment from this and future governments. The case for the NDIS is compelling. I believe we have to move as fast as we possibly can to achieve a fair and workable system.

“We need a system that puts people with disability at the very centre of the equation and provides them and their carers with flexible packages to access the services which most meet their needs in their own particular communities.”

Mr Chester also paid tribute to the staff who work with people with disabilities at special schools and support services across Gippsland.

“They do an amazing job with great love and tenderness for the people in their care. It can be a very difficult job at times and it is an unforgiving role in many ways, and I know the families certainly appreciate the support they receive from you,” he said.

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Darren Chester MP