Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1280 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
This amendment to an amendment moved by Ms Dundas reflects the fact that the ACT government has moved to undertake an empirical study into respite care needs in the ACT across the board. To that extent, Ms Dundas' amendment is in effect rendered irrelevant. The amendment that I have moved simply reflects the facts of the matter-namely, that a detailed empirical study of respite care needs is currently in process.
MR SMYTH (11.10): Mr Speaker, perhaps what we have here is an example of the Assembly working together. The cumulative effect of Mr Cornwell's motion, followed by Ms Dundas' amendment, followed by Mr Stanhope's amendment is an acknowledgment by all of us that dementia is an important issue and that more work needs to be done in this area.
Mr Cornwell's motion is framed in the way it is because the community has spoken to him about the immediate need for a low-level dementia sufferer facility, and I think Ms Dundas' amendment retains that specific reference. In light of what has been said by the Chief Minister and certainly by Ms Tucker, it is quite clear that there is a broader problem. The purpose of the original motion was not to be dismissive of the broader problem but to focus on one specific area. But given the commitment from the Chief Minister to look at the whole of the issue of caring for those with dementia and the fact that all members who have spoken in this debate have made it quite clear that the issue of facilities needs to be discussed, the opposition will be supporting the Stanhope amendment to Mr Cornwell's motion.
Mr Speaker, one of the issues that were raised by all groups at a small mental health forum I held a couple of weeks ago was what happens when people with a mental disability do age. We also discussed the problems that are facing a group like the Council on the Ageing, which was one of the participants at the forum. Not only were groups like the Schizophrenia Fellowship, the Mental Health Foundation, Centrecare and others telling me what was happening in their field but Jim Purcell, the chief executive officer of COTA, was listening. As he left, Jim said, "Look, that has certainly widened my perspective of what I need to be expecting to deal with into the future as the executive of COTA."
The issues that they raised are very close to the issues that have been raised here today-the issues of caring for those with a mental problem as they do grow older; the nature of the beds and how many beds there should be; and what happens when the parents of a person with a mental disability die. People with a physical disability were often unable to get a lease. When we were in office this issue of leasing arrangements was resolved, I believe, for the first time in the history of the ACT. Through community housing, through groups like Koomarri, people who normally would not have been able to gain access to a housing lease and sign their own contracts can now do so. That is another of the issues that COTA said that they were aware was coming up but perhaps they were not as aware of how major a problem it might be. That is a small summary of what occurred at the mental health forum that I held.