Disability advocates have welcomed the continuation of a dedicated portfolio under Braddon MHA Roger Jaensch in the state's reshuffled cabinet, after "a bit of a panic" caused by its earlier omission.
Material circulated by the government on Sunday did not feature the Disability Services and Community Development portfolio previously held by Jacquie Petrusma, who resigned from her ministerial responsibilities due to health concerns - or the word disability at all.
Instead, the Community Development role was added to Mr Jaensch's Human Services portfolio. He also gained Aboriginal Affairs from Ms Petrusma.
"It was pretty clear yesterday they had forgotten," said Tasmanian Disability Education Reform Lobby founder Kristen Desmond, who added both Mr Hodgman and Mr Jaensch now needed to "come out strong" to show they took the community seriously.
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"It may well have caused a lot of angst and a lot of lost trust," she said. "I just hope that it doesn't get lost in Minister Jaensch's very large [group of] portfolios."
Disability consultant Jane Wardlaw said the time it took for the government to clarify where the portfolio lay "caused a bit of a panic among those living with disability and their supports".
Ms Wardlaw thanked Jacquie Petrusma for her work in the sector and said she looked forward to working with Mr Jaensch who she expected to continue to "fight for us" throughout the transition into the full NDIS roll out, the royal commission and a "whole range of other issues".
Premier Will Hodgman told media Monday morning the Disability Services portfolio would remain an "important" one in the new-look cabinet under Roger Jaensch and administrative orders "would reflect that".
"We are a government that believes very strongly in supporting those within our community who need support and that includes those with a disability and those who care for them," Mr Hodgman said. "So that will continue."
A government spokesperson later confirmed the existing Disability Services and Community Development portfolio would be retained.
It's an attitude from @WillHodgman and many other that is not good enough. Every single disabled person in #Tasmania deserves an apology and a commitment from their Premier towards ending the discrimination we face every single day #AusPol#PoliTas#pwd— Senator Jordon Steele-John 🧻💧 (@Jordonsteele) July 1, 2019
Earlier, Will Kestin, the state manager for National Disability Services, the country's peak non-government disability service organisation, said the disability sector, advocates and people living with disability were "shocked" the ministry had been "unceremoniously dissolved into Human Services".
Mr Kestin noted such a change would make Tasmania the only state without a disability portfolio.
Greens leader and disability services spokesperson Cassy O'Connor said with the full roll out of the NDIS on July 1 now was "not the time" to abolish a portfolio established just over one year ago.
"Regrettably, the Premier hasn't provided any explanation to Tasmanians with disability for his portfolio snub," she said. "He should do so without delay."
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