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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 119 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

The Government, no doubt, will want to defend the record of the last five months; but we expect a resolution to emerge now. We expect that, since we have these homes and we have up to eight people - perhaps more - who want to move into them. They certainly regard them, as I think we all do, as a much better option than the nursing homes they may currently be in. Those people want to move in. They are desperate to move in. Today, we wait for the new Minister, Mr Moore, to tell us when they are going to move in, the circumstances in which they will be moved, how it will be done and perhaps the way these places will be run. We all remember that, at the base of all this, the project is planned to provide the best options for people who have enough problems already. So, I am sure that we will all want to get it moving.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.00): Mr Wood, thank you for raising this matter. It is of some disappointment to me that you were not able to attend Mr Humphries's briefing, which he offered to you on 15 April - the briefing that I attended with Mr Rugendyke and others. However, it is quite clear from your speech that your understanding of the issues is quite comprehensive. Like the potential residents and like you, I want to see this matter resolved as quickly as possible. However, I have to say that there are still a number of issues that stand in the way of making real progress in this regard.

I say that in the context of accepting your motion. I think it is a positive motion that will help us move things forward. I will come back in a little while to the concept of urgency and just what is meant by that. Does that mean that we need to deal with it in two minutes or five minutes? It is not a matter of just moving people in and trusting that the not insignificant outstanding issues are resolved satisfactorily, as you would understand. We have to give due consideration to the appropriateness of the care model for each person, the compatibility of the grouping, whether the community living expectations of each person can reasonably be met, and the costs of the care. These are really the major issues that we are dealing with.

There are 11 prospective residents for eight places in Fisher. These 11 people meet the eligibility criteria of being under 65 years of age and currently residing in an ACT nursing home. I understand that the seven COOOL Fisher Action Group members, represented by their advocate Mr Matthew Maurer, who is in the gallery today, argue their entitlement above that of all others, due to the time they have been on the waiting list. I have to tell you that I do not support this view. Priority of access to service has to be on the basis of relative need - I think, Mr Wood, you would agree with me there - and available resources, not just the time a person spends on a waiting list.

I understand that the department has advised the potential residents that we are not prepared to move them into the Fisher houses until their support plans are developed and costed and we are assured that the service can operate within the budget. The representative of the potential residents, on the other hand, wants us to move them into the houses without such plans being finalised. This is part of the problem that we are dealing with. I have not had the opportunity, other than to introduce myself to Mr Maurer this morning, to meet with him personally to deal with the problem, although my colleague Mr Humphries has done so and has even spoken to him earlier today.

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