Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

$435,000 For Bedford Industries Inc. SA

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today announced a funding package of $435,000 for Bedford Industries Inc. South Australia.

“The funds will help them purchase and implement an IT corporate information system, employ a contractor to help develop design specifications in the timber business, and upgrade the Pooraka Packaging facility to meet pharmacy standards,” Senator Patterson said.

The Minister made the announcement during a visit to Bedford Industries’ Panorama site where she discussed the outcomes of current disability employment reforms.

“The Business Services operated by Bedford Industries employ 525 people with disabilities and are located at a number of sites in South Australia, including Pooraka, Lonsdale, Panorama and Clapham,” Senator Patterson said.

“The employees are involved in a variety of work including timber furniture manufacturing, sewing, packaging, hospitality, cleaning and production of wooden garden edging.

“The $435,000 is part of more than $25 million allocated over two years and announced in the 2003-04 Budget to improve the viability of disability employment services.

“This will be spent on business reviews and tailored assistance grants to improve business employment services in the lead up to quality assurance certification by December 2004.

“In addition, the Prime Minister and I recently announced the $99 million Security, Quality Services and Choice for People with a Disability assistance package to ensure that employees with disabilities have better access to high quality services, including training and ongoing support, and receive fair wages for the work they do.

“This new funding to be used over the next four years will help the 17,000 Australians with a disability working in business services.

“Importantly, the package includes direct assistance to ensure business service employees have job security and businesses remain viable.

“Business services like Bedford Industries Inc. have provided people with disabilities support and employment for a long time. The funding of $435,000 will help it provide an even better service and more opportunities for its employees,” Senator Patterson said.