Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 2172 ..
MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Minister for Health and Community Care. Can the Minister say whether the Watson Hostel is to be used as an interim holding facility for acute psychiatric patients from the Canberra Hospital during refurbishment of that hospital's psychiatric unit?
MR MOORE: I have not made a decision on where we are going to have the interim holding facility while Canberra Hospital is being refurbished. The Watson Hostel is one possibility; Lower Jindalee is another possibility. The Watson Hostel is also possibly going to be used for a youth rehabilitation program. There is a series of possibilities. A decision has not yet been made. Watson Hostel is one of the possibilities.
MR WOOD: My question is to Mr Moore on a subject he knows quite well. The Minister will recall the apparent misplacement of targeted Commonwealth mental health funds which were directed to the purchase of a computer for departmental use. I do not think this was done in your time as Minister. You would certainly be aware from our round table in this building recently of the agitated response of some of those groups who believed they had missed out on some much needed projects. My interest is in the future. Following completion of the mental health strategy, will you outline the mechanisms you have put in place to ensure that a similar diversion of funds for a targeted area does not occur with the next round of Commonwealth mental health funding?
MR MOORE: I do not recall the particular situation that Mr Wood refers to, but under our purchaser-provider mechanism the Department of Health purchases quite specific services from Mental Health at the hospital as well as from a range of community providers. I think that arrangement will assist in foiling that sort of problem. Additionally, this Government has put some $4m extra into capital works in mental health, along with the best part of $1m in additional spending this year, $750,000 a year specifically for a secure care facility, and is putting more money into mental health, by a long way, than any government has before, because we take it very seriously. It is an area where we are trying to deliver the best possible services we can, because there is a great need in the community that this caring Government has recognised.
MR WOOD: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. I think I should prod the Minister's memory. It was at the round table convened by the Assembly's Health and Community Care Committee in the committee room that concern was expressed that funds that could well have been used for a club, for example, had instead gone to a departmental computer. That is the issue. You will recall that the concern was that relevant people ought to be consulted in the distribution of those funds. That is the question. My supplementary question, or my original question again, is: Are mechanisms yet in place so that when funds are to be distributed the people at the other end are part of the decision-making process?