Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 4 May 1995) . . Page.. 231 ..
MRS CARNELL: You are absolutely right in everything you have said in that question. One of the things that have been of real concern to many of us here in the Assembly and to the Social Policy Committee when we looked at this issue, amongst other issues, with regard to accommodation for the ageing last year is that respite care has become less and less available since self-government. In fact, in areas such as IDS - people with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities - not that long ago parents could look at respite of one week in four. My understanding now is that it is one week in eight. That is an extremely difficult position, particularly to some of the ageing parents of not so young people with disabilities. We are looking, in many cases, at parents who are over 70 and who are looking after people in their late twenties and thirties. They are not children any more. That is a tragic situation for somebody who, potentially, is not all that well.
The benefit to the community of carers keeping their loved ones in their own home is huge, not just in financial terms - but we should not overlook that - but also in social terms. Respite care is one of our primary concerns and it will be one of the things we will be addressing as a matter of urgency. The Dell report is something that I am sure this Assembly will look at. I hope that the Social Policy Committee looks at it as well. This is probably not the proper forum to suggest that. I think the Dell report makes some very important comments and recommendations in this area and I believe, as the follow through from that, that we should be looking at ways to address the problem.
In the ACT at the moment we have a number of approaches to respite care. There is, obviously, the facility-based respite care. There is in-home respite care as well and a community access style. One of the things that we need to look at more is the in-home style, where a helper can come in and look after a patient or a person in the home for either a day or a couple of days, so that we do not have to move that person with a disability into a centre. That can often be a very good way around some of the problems. I understand that Fabric provide that sort of service, and it is a service that I would like to see expanded.
There is the Finniss Crescent centre. That is a six-bed facility for young adults with a disability who are still living at home. That is one of the facilities, as I said before, that have ended up with less access over the years. I think it is now about one week in eight, which I do not think is quite enough. There is Birralee at Belconnen, which is a centre that has capacity, I think, for 10 children up to the age of 16 years. I think at the moment there are about four families on the waiting list for that facility. Waiting lists for respite care are deceptive because regularly what happens is that there is no waiting list but the periods between access become longer and longer. I think we should not be lulled into any false sense of security by waiting lists not seeming all that long. It is an issue that we are going to have to address in this Assembly. It is an issue that we, as a government, are going to have to address as a matter of urgency. We have, Australia-wide, closed a number of residential facilities. At the moment John Knight is in the process of closing. A lot of those people are going to community-based houses. It means that, regularly, there will be more need for respite as we have an ageing community and fewer institutional facilities for people to live in, which I think, by the way, is a good idea, but we have to have that backup.