Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Extra funding for rural and remote disability business services

The Howard Government will more than triple its supplementary funding for disability business services in rural and remote areas from $700,000 in the past 18 months to a projected $2.4 million in the coming year.

Addressing the Challenge Armidale National Best Practice in Disability Conference today, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said the additional funding was part of a support package aimed at helping maintain the future viability of services located in rural and remote Australia.

“In addition to the increased Rural and Remote Business Service Supplement, and in line with the Government’s commitment to reduce red tape, the current complex fee payment arrangement will be simplified meaning services will spend less time dealing with bureaucracy and more time running their business,” Senator Patterson said.

“An estimated 120 services located in rural and remote areas will benefit from the funding which will see services receiving between $15,000 and $60,000 more per year in recognition that businesses in remote locations face higher operating costs.

“Disability business services can decide what will best serve their business needs, as long as the funds are used to benefit the business service employees, they can use their funding for a range of purposes, for instance, providing a bus service for workers in areas with poor public transport or a marketing campaign targeting local businesses.

“The first payments are to be made before Christmas, providing a boost for disability business services in country areas.

“Other aspects of the package include, a grant up to $75,000 to help business services build new alliances across the sector and grants up to $2,000 to help services attend events like industry trade days.

“This package is in addition to the estimated $200 million the Howard Government is committing to support the disability business sector across Australia in 2005-06 and will further provide services with long-term assurance,” Senator Patterson said.