Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2975 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
approvals round, the Commonwealth has allocated 90 residential places for the ACT and has identified priority areas in relation to bed readiness, dementia care and respite care. The latest round of allocations will assist in meeting some of the pressures within the community. I will continue to urge the Commonwealth to undertake future planning of the provision of respite care places to meet the needs of our community.
The ACT government is also prepared to respond to respite care needs in the ACT community through particularly the Burrangiri crisis respite centre, which is a 15-bed facility. The centre provides a valuable role in providing short-term emergency respite care. Clients are not required to have an aged care assessment in order to access Burrangiri's services, which allows carers to access the service during times of crisis. (Extension of time granted.)
The government has also implemented its other election commitment to undertake an assessment of met and unmet need in respite care services in the ACT. I released this report in the Assembly during the last sitting. The consultation phase of the respite report highlighted the need for more flexible responses to respite care requirements that go beyond the provision of respite hours and also support families in sustaining their caring role.
The government has responded to this need with the establishment of a $450,000 pilot program through three community agencies-Community Options, Community Connections and Carers ACT. The program will provide flexible family support to people and families who are caring for an older person who needs support, a person with a disability, a person with mental health issues, or a person with an acquired brain injury. This model represents a significant change in approach from that of the traditional provision of respite care, in that it allows families and individuals to make decisions on the support that they require to help them in their carer role.
Mr Speaker, the government has responded to key findings in that report, is acting on them and is providing new services to help meet the need. The government is also currently examining the other recommendations of the report and will respond fully to them. The government is committed to meeting the needs of older Canberrans, and we are working to facilitate additional places, additional land grants, additional support and a new step-down facility. The government has a good and strong track record on addressing these issues.
The pressures we face in relation to aged care accommodation are not unique. They are faced right around the country and they require a approach based on collaboration between all agencies and all levels of government. That is the approach I am endeavouring to foster here in the ACT.
Mr Speaker, given the issues I have addressed in my comments, I would like to move an amendment to this motion, which I have circulated in my name, which outlines what steps the ACT government has undertaken, expresses the Assembly's concern at the difficulties older Canberrans face in accessing appropriate accommodation, and urges the ACT and Commonwealth governments to continue to adopt and implement measures to address this growing level of demand for appropriate accommodation for older Canberrans.