Page 483 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 16 February 2005

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MR SPEAKER: The standing order that Ms MacDonald seeks to refer to is 118 (f):

Questions may be asked to elicit information regarding business pending on the Notice Paper but discussion must not be anticipated.

It is reasonable for questions to be asked in relation to the matter.

Mrs Dunne: On the point of order, Mr Speaker, as well: the report that was tabled yesterday is about the allied health care needs of people in aged care. That is about dental and podiatry as well.

MR SPEAKER: I have just ruled on the matter.

DR FOSKEY: Anyway, the point is that we are a little confused. Today’s Canberra Times says:

… the Government’s commitment to investigating issues of retribution in nursing homes in now unclear …

It also reports:

… the government’s formal response to a health standing committee report declined to look into the matter.

My question is: can the minister here confirm that the government will carry out a thorough investigation into retribution claims against aged care facilities and ensure that policies and procedures are in place so that all residents are able to complain safely?

MR SPEAKER: I just want to raise a question here in relation to ministerial responsibility for this because it is a commonwealth responsibility. If the Chief Minister wants to add to that, he may.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, I was going to make that point. It is quite clearly an area of commonwealth responsibility. But the point I made at the time I announced that the ACT government would involve itself in this particular issue was that no government can turn its back on the serious allegations that were made, particularly in relation to its own citizens. But let’s not walk away from the acceptance that the primary responsibility for issues in relation to the management, accreditation and the way in which complaints are treated in nursing homes in the ACT is the responsibility of the commonwealth government.

To the extent that complaints of retribution, elder abuse or unacceptable behaviour in relation to our residents in nursing homes within the ACT have been made, the accusation has been made about the level of care, control and oversight that the commonwealth is showing to this particular issue. And I accept that and I cannot go to that, other than to say that the response I made was that, in light of the very serious allegations of retribution against those residents or family of people within aged care facilities in the ACT, of course we as a government or as a community cannot turn our backs and walk away and simply say, “Look, this is a commonwealth responsibility. The

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