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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2802 ..

MS McRAE (continuing):

what is your rationale for offering places to children where there will be no proper care, and then telling their parents that if they are disruptive, which is the reason why they are in a special school in the first place, they will be thrown out of the program? What are you doing to remedy this?

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, as I have said now, probably, on about 10 occasions, there will be proper care. That is the whole idea of these 10 organisations with the 63 places, and each individual parent is working it out with the focus programs unit so that the individual needs of their child will be looked after in what should be a very good integration program. In relation to the behavioural problems, as Ms McRae is no doubt aware, Malkara, like any school, could send children home if they were severely disruptive. That applies, I think, anywhere. We are trying to ensure that the needs of these children, including ones who might cause some disruption, are properly catered for, with people able to look after them in the programs in the various organisations which are now at various places around the city, which is a much more convenient arrangement for many parents.

Community Health Centres

MS HORODNY: My question is to the Minister for Health and Community Care, Mrs Carnell. Have any of the salaried medical officers currently being offered redundancies been asked whether they would be willing to resume their duties as SMOs, and, if not, why not? Will the Government guarantee that SMOs are returned to the health centres if 100 per cent bulk-billing doctors cannot be found?

MRS CARNELL: The position of the Government on this has been clear the whole way through. If we can get 100 per cent bulk-billing doctors into our health centres we will do so. All of the doctors that you are talking about - I think it is all of them now; there might be one who still has not - have indicated to us that they are leaving the system. They have given us dates on which they are leaving the system, and they have even, in most circumstances, told us exactly where they are going. In other words, they have sorted out what they are going to do. In most cases, which I think is very good, the doctors involved will be practising in the same sort of area as the health centre so that their patients will be able to go with them. That is not the case with all of the doctors involved. I am very pleased that at least some of them are in a position where their patients will be able to follow them from a regional perspective. They all have other jobs. That is really what it comes down to.

MS HORODNY: I have a supplementary question. How will the Minister ensure that low income earners are protected, given that she cannot guarantee 100 per cent bulk-billing doctors or salaried medical officers? Many low income earners do not have access to health care cards or equivalent forms of ID that prove that they are on low incomes. Does the Minister expect these people to beg for free health care services?

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