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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 3393 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

Mr Deputy Speaker, many of the disabled people in our town became so through some type of trauma, either surgery to eliminate disease, stroke, or head injury or accident. In order to help these people return to as normal a life as possible, we need to help in two ways. In fact, we need to remember that we must provide rehabilitation and ongoing support. Rehabilitation is doing something with a patient, whereas in all other areas of health primary care we tend to do something to a patient. I will not go into any detail about the professional medical services available to patients who have suffered a disability, but I must say that I have been most disappointed to witness and hear about the most serious deterioration of services available at the Canberra Hospital.

Mr Deputy Speaker, in previous times the services at the hospital were geared towards clinical recovery, coupled with resurrection of esteem. Sadly, the attention to the esteem aspect of recovery has been eliminated from the case management processes. Over the past four years, the valuable work done by the rehabilitation workshops has all but ceased. The innovative programs of health professionals aimed at helping patients who want to get better, want to cope after rehabilitation, have been wound down in the interests of greater patient throughput, quicker discharge and thus dollar economics.

The whole ethic of assistance to people has been changed. People have approached me with horrendous stories about the shabby way they have been treated. They are scared to put in an official complaint for fear of retribution and loss of some of the services they need. I hope that the Minister's attention has been drawn to this matter and that, in the proposed changes to the hospital and community care services, these rehabilitation services are restructured with emphasis on the client, not on the bottom budget line nor on the professional egos which have run riot over the past four years.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to pay tribute to the rehabilitation support organisation - You and Me. This organisation had its genesis in the destruction of services in the workshops at the rehabilitation service at the hospital. Mr Cec Millane and his wife, Carol, felt abandoned by the system. Mr Millane has suffered significant disability through stroke. They decided to provide these services themselves and are doing so successfully with little help from government. They had to beg, borrow and steal to set up something to help their fellow disabled. Their struggle is a sad testimony to the lack of real compassion seen in government services. There is the constant restriction of rules and budgets and little room for discretion.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I conclude by supporting your comments. In the delivery of support services, we should all say, "There but for the grace of God go I". We should be looking for ways to help, not looking for excuses not to.

MR QUINLAN (4.55): Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like to refer back to something that Mr Moore said about helping him - I think he spoke in the first person - to sell ACTEW to fund future disability services. Might I say in reverse that I would like to think we could save ACTEW, an income-earning asset, so that we have income well beyond Ms Carnell's lifetime which, in question time, she stated was as far as she was prepared to look, care or plan. Over recent years I have had some direct experience in the field of disability services, admittedly more as a facilitator than as a direct supporter or carer.

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