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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1276 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Burrangiri Crisis Centre: Burrangiri is a 15-bed facility funded by the ACT government to provide respite and post-hospitalisation care. Burrangiri's client base includes people with dementia, and Burrangiri have estimated that dementia patients make up 50 per cent of their client base.

There really is no getting away from the Commonwealth's shameful failure to adequately fund nursing homes for dementia patients and for other aged persons in need of care.

Mr Cornwell and members, we need to ensure that we continue to provide a range of services to meet each individual's needs and provide choices for our clients and carers. Conducting a feasibility study for one four-bedroom house for respite care will not provide a complete picture. As I have outlined, the study that the ACT government is in the process of undertaking will be comprehensive and will indeed provide the foundation on which to plan and improve our services to sufferers of dementia and their carers.

In regard to that, Mr Speaker, and acknowledging that the ACT government has already initiated a detailed inquiry into respite care needs, I have circulated an amendment to amend the amendment moved by Ms Dundas to better reflect the facts of what is currently happening. The ACT government has responded to the ACT Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Health and Community Care, which in March 2000 reported to the Assembly on respite care services in the ACT. That committee recommended that the former government undertake a comprehensive and empirical study to determine the current and future needs of respite care in the ACT community.

During the last election, the ACT Labor Party promised to carry out such an empirical study of levels of need for respite care in the ACT, based on the recommendations of that standing committee. This government is in the process of implementing that election commitment. A tender is currently being prepared for an empirical needs study into respite care, which will cover all forms of respite, including dementia.

A community sector reference group has already been convened to advise the Health and Community Care Department in the preparation of the tender and the conduct of the empirical study. The reference group has already met. The government will report to the Assembly on the outcomes of the study. It is anticipated that recommendations from the study will be critical in planning for service development in dementia respite and all other areas of respite care.

So in summary, Mr Speaker, the government does not support Mr Cornwell's motion, as well meaning as it is. We do not believe it is appropriate to devote resources to a study into a specific proposal-the proposal nominated by Mr Cornwell, namely, "a feasibility study into the establishment and annual ongoing costs of a four-bedroom house for respite care". Most certainly, I am more than happy for Mr Cornwell's suggestion to form part of the empirical work that is already being undertaken by my department or is proposed in the study that is already planned and in relation to which a tender is currently being prepared.

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