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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3920 ..

Respite services-Narrabundah and Dickson

MRS CROSS: Mr Speaker, my question is to Mr Stanhope in his capacity as Health Minister. A report in the Canberra Times this morning revealed that two day care centres for the frail and aged, namely those at Narrabundah and Dickson, will close by the end of the year. Those housed in the facilities will be moved to other facilities in Belconnen and Tuggeranong. The report says the action is needed because of the deterioration of the buildings, which were constructed in the 1970s. Minister, can you give an assurance that no other similar facilities will close, and are you aware of any preventive measures to stop other buildings from becoming so run down?

MR STANHOPE: Mr Cornwell asked a question on this subject yesterday and I did provide some information in relation to it. But I note your question does relate primarily to the state of the buildings. The advice available to me is that each of these buildings, which were constructed in about 1970, is certainly showing its age quite considerably. I have been advised that there are some significant occupational health and safety issues in relation to each of the buildings, particularly in the context of their use for frail aged people. That was a part of the considerations in relation to some of the new arrangements.

There were a range of other considerations-namely, a determination by the department to provide the full range of services we as health providers are better set to make (for instance, rehabilitation, therapy and other services), whereas much of the support provided currently at Narrabundah and Dickson is support best characterised as respite care.

The view is-and it is a view I support-that the ACT government, through its instrumentalities, is not the best-placed organisation for the provision of respite. We believe that that is a service primarily provided by the community sector, and we believe the community sector is better placed. We are looking now for a more collaborative and coordinated approach to the provision of respite. We believe that for those clients currently accessing Narrabundah and Dickson, for whom respite is the major need, care would be better provided, if possible, by community organisations co-located in some instances with Narrabundah and Dickson, in particular northside and southside community services, which already provide precisely that range of services.

I think this was discussed in some detail by Ms Tucker in her speech on her motion yesterday in relation to the community sector. One of the issues facing the community sector is the state of some of the facilities and the infrastructure available to them. Ms Tucker mentioned by way of example Directions. Directions is currently, and has been for years in previous incarnations, located on the second floor above a very good bakery in East Row. But the building and the facility are entirely inappropriate for the needle exchange and for a drug support service.

This highlights some of the difficulties faced by the government and faced by some service providers. This is a slight digression but it is very interesting. The government has been seeking to find alternative accommodation for Directions. The department of health tasked Urban Services with identifying appropriate other accommodation for Directions, having regard to the nature of its service, and Urban Services was not able to identify a single commercial property owner in Civic prepared to take Directions as

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