DAP sparks debate

THE rejection of a “lousy” $4000 for a disability advocacy film festival sparked an emotional debate at the tabling of Latrobe City’s Disability Action Plan.

Latrobe City councillor Dale Harriman criticised aspects of the DAP, which aims to ensure people with a disability have equitable access to infrastructure and council services, as a funding rejection showed council was not being “inclusive”.

Disability-based The Other Film Festival funding application of $4000 was rejected by council as it was deemed “prohibitive” with the current budget allocation.

“We state that we will be more inclusive of people with a disability and we’ve had the first opportunities to do something that is inclusive of people with a disability and the whole community, for the price of $4000 and we drop the ball and say no,” Cr Harriman said.

“We have paid more to send people away to courses in Melbourne to learn about being inclusive with people with a disability.”

Consultation in Moe, Morwell and Traralgon was held in December 2010 which aimed to identify issues which could have been addressed in the 2011-12 DAP.

However, Cr Harriman said the funding proposal was rejected before being brought to council.

Council received a recurrent grant of $29,000 from the Department of Human Services for implementing the DAP, which council contributed a further $36,000 in the 2011-12 budget.

Latrobe City Mayor Ed Vermeulen said councillors need to be fiscally responsible before supporting grants.

“It might have been more desirable to spend the $4000 but then I have the temptation to say to someone who suggests that: ‘you have a balanced budget, where do you suppose the money comes from?'” Cr Vermeulen said.

“The DAP overall serves our city very well. It should reflect back to the amount of money you set aside in the first place, so if a councillor has concern with the way it is funded, he or she should be able to say that during budget meetings.”

DAP Disability Reference Committee meets bi-monthly and the current two-year term will end on 30 September.