Page 3067 - Week 08 - Thursday, 25 June 2009

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I thank members for their contributions to the debate. This is an important area of the budget—I think about 28 per cent of the overall budget and growing every year. Part of the government’s plan is to integrate our public health system, to focus on our community health initiatives. There is $50 million-odd there for an enhanced community health centre in Belconnen to take services that are able to be removed from the public hospital and offer them in a community-based setting, in new environments; to keep people out of hospital, to make sure the hospital is there for the people who need the hospital and that when people leave the hospital our focus is on keeping them out of hospital so that they do not have to return.

There are a number of good news initiatives in this budget: more beds, more infrastructure, more focus on chronic disease and preventative health programs, and support for new services such as the mental health assessment unit and the medical retrieval services. I commend that line to the Assembly.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.12—Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services, $181,687,000 (net cost of outputs), $30,366,000 (capital injection) and $34,239,000 (payments on behalf of the territory), totalling $246,292,000.

MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (9.10): The disability sector received some good news in this budget in relation to the transition of long-term hospital patients to the community. However, the extra funding provided was a matter of necessity and not an optional bonus. The government made the announcements in relation to this funding magnanimously, as if they were providing something that had not yet been identified as a pressing need, as if the funding was actually adding to the whole budget for Disability ACT. This has been an excruciatingly long time coming for some individuals. The fact that, according to the Disability ACT website, $74.5 million is required to meet demand in the disability sector and that the current allocation is $68.5 million puts paid to the myth that the government is even meeting demand in the sector.

As I have said before in this place, support for people with a disability must go beyond the basic needs of accommodation, personal care and financial support. Quality of life is a crucial aspect of the needs of people with a disability, and this should not be seen as an “optional extra” when we consider programs that address the fundamentals. It is important to note that the commonwealth will be picking up that $8 million shortfall as part of the CSTDA—the Commonwealth-State/Territory Disability Agreement.

The estimates committee questioned aspects of the Auditor-General’s recent report into respite services; namely, seeking clarification of how accreditation and audits are currently conducted and other issues raised by the Auditor-General. It is important to note that the minister was unable to address the possibility of implications from the report in relation to similar problems associated with the overall service delivery of Disability ACT.

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