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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (5 September) . . Page.. 3174 ..


Mental Health Expenditure

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I table the answer to a question I took on notice in the Assembly on 3 September, when Ms Tucker asked me, in part, where the Mental Health Service spent some $400,000 of Commonwealth funding.

Discussion of Matter of Public Importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received a letter from Ms Tucker proposing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion, namely:

The issue of health management in group houses run by Disability Services in ACT Community Care.

MS TUCKER (3.50): Mr Speaker, I am raising this matter of public importance today because, after the last series of questions to Mrs Carnell, I am not at all satisfied that this issue is being taken seriously. Questions have been dodged and one question was taken on notice, so I will have to wait 30 days for a response. Yesterday, in an attempt to dodge another question, Mrs Carnell showed a total lack of understanding of the reality of some of the issues of these group homes. One thing I agree with Mrs Carnell about is that these are people's homes, which is all the more reason to make sure that the resources are available to support the people who live in them and the staff who work there.

I am also very concerned because I first raised these issues with Mrs Carnell in April and brought to her attention serious allegations concerned with misconduct by some staff, serious mismanagement by Disability Services, allegations of occupational health and safety problems, including staff being inadequately protected from infection because of lack of training and unclear purchasing procedures for protective gear, as well as staff being the victims of violence, allegations of inappropriate placement of clients in homes, and allegations of clients being the victims of sexual and physical violence.

I suggested to Mrs Carnell at that time that it may be appropriate to call for a thorough inquiry into the delivery of services to people with a disability. Mrs Carnell assured me that this would not be appropriate as the Health Complaints Commissioner was there for that very purpose and these were allegations which needed to be substantiated, with which, of course, I agreed. I received assurance that I would have full access to the Health Complaints Commissioner's report and that extra resources would be granted to him should his office not be able to handle the investigation. Mr Patterson has recently

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