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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1273 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

For a number of years, as Mr Cornwell has indicted, the Alzheimers Association, along with other groups, has been calling for increased commitment to respite care for people with dementia. Dementia can be extremely distressing both for the family and for the person experiencing it. Nevertheless, families can, and do, still have valuable and happy times together despite the onset of dementia. Respite care can ensure that families do not become isolated and overburdened by the sometimes demanding task of caring for a person with dementia-that they are free to enjoy to the maximum possible extent the time that they have with sufferers. Partners and families of people with dementia need to know that they can have a break from their caring role, assured that their loved one is being cared for properly. Ongoing considerable stress can be caused if these services are inadequate.

Whilst I thank Mr Cornwell for bringing this important matter to the attention of the Assembly, I believe that a feasibility study into the establishment of a four-bedroom house, as the motion indicates, is perhaps an overly specific and prescriptive outcome to be calling for at this stage. This is why it is only part of the amendment that is circulated in my name. I think the amendment broadens what Mr Cornwell is asking for, whilst keeping true to the core need to study respite care for people with dementia, including specific respite care for those people with early onset or low-level dementia conditions.

My amendment would allow the government to look at this important issue through its ordinary processes, without having to establish yet another review. The motion would be made more general so that the government can look at the issue of respite care for people with dementia without being limited to considering only one possible option-that is, a four-bedroom house-as an outcome of addressing this issue. I hope the Assembly takes on board my comments and supports my amendment to the motion before the Assembly, which addresses a very worthwhile topic.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (10.48): I thank Mr Cornwell for his ongoing interest in aged care matters, and his very obvious interest in issues around ageing and dementia.

Mr Cornwell: I will be one shortly.

MR STANHOPE: We certainly need to make sure that sufferers of dementia-it creeps up on us all, says Mr Cornwell-and their families are well cared for and supported in the ACT. This is an emerging area of need as our population ages, and we know the ACT's population is ageing more rapidly than the national rate.

Respite and caring for carers is an area that this government highlighted as needing attention. In the October election campaign we put forward a plan for carers and a plan for older Canberrans to highlight our commitment in this area and address the very issues Mr Cornwell has raised in this motion. I intend to keep this commitment and allocate funding in the next budget for respite, including respite for the people suffering from dementia and their carers.

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