Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4327 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
The stupidity of these decisions is not lost on the community.
Yes, minister, the community are watching the actions and inactions of this government.
Now that the issue is again before this Assembly, the minister has provided a copy of the ACT Community Care's Review of aged day care centre program of March 2002 and a briefing note on how the decision was made. I thank the minister for providing this information and I also thank his staff for speaking to my office about this motion. But this report and briefing note, which was available in March, was provided only 24 hours ago. I think that is being a little slow in accountability, Minister. The review shows that both staff and the aged members and their carers were involved in the process that included focus groups and surveys. But I have heard that these people were disappointed with the process and did not feel that they were properly consulted.
I am hesitant in deciding whether to support the motion before the Assembly today. It is not that I support the decision of the government-I am actually quite disappointed by it; and from what I have read in the briefing papers and the report, it was a lack of political will from the current government that saw the closure of these centres. The Democrats are disappointed by the decision to close these centres and believe the government should reconsider this decision. But a motion calling for a review of the centres and a further report to the Assembly would quite likely lead to the same result.
The Democrats and possibly the crossbenchers would join with the opposition in calling for a reversal of the decision if the government, as it appears will be the case, stands by the decision it has already made. It appears that a number of Assembly members would prefer that the government reconsider its decision and truly focus on the needs of the people accessing age-care facilities in Narrabundah and Dickson. Another review is not needed. As always, action is required and the government needs to prioritise its decision making to truly support those in our community who most need assistance.
MS TUCKER (9.32): I agree with Mr Cornwell that this process has not been well done in some important ways, and I will speak more on that later. But the changes the government is making are based on a fairly extensive review, and the outcome itself-the refocusing of ACT government age-care services on people with higher needs-is well reasoned.
The government has said that this change will not result in fewer places because there are places in the non-government sector. I am not sure that will be possible-it is not clear to me and I have not had time to get the numbers on this-without expanding the capacity of the existing non-government services or maybe introducing new services in the locations which the government is withdrawing from. But making a change to this division of responsibilities makes sense.
There is some confusion about the reasons for the change. In an article in the Canberra Times of 23 November the reason given is that the buildings at Narrabundah and Dickson were inadequate for the high-care needs of dementia patients. The review notes that both these centres had been earmarked for future upgrade and refurbishment. This is the obvious solution to a substandard facility, as long as there are reasons to keep the service in the same location.