Territory Stories

Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 28 February 2001



Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 28 February 2001

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Parliamentary Record 27


Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 28 February 2001 new facility? I understand the going rate in Queensland, for instance, is approximately $85 000 per person. The minister talks about the HACC program and the CACP program that are intended to facilitate people remaining in their own homes. They certainly are excellent schemes and we support them fully. The CACP funding is vital to ensuring support for people to stay in their own homes rather than having to enter institutional care, and Commonwealth funding in this regard is welcome. I got a list from the Commonwealth governments website yesterday, and I was interested to look at the range of allocations through the Northern Territory. This is an issue I have turned my attention to of late because, on a parochial note, Tennant Creek was very disappointed to miss out on this funding for the third year in a row. I understand there is a further round of CACPs to follow - probably on the eve of the federal election. In the meantime, I have pursued the issue with the federal minister on behalf of the Julalikari Council in Tennant Creek, which has unsuccessfully bid for funding for frail, aged Aboriginal residents in Tennant Creek over the last three years. It is a concern that this organisation, which looks after approximately 35 aged Aboriginal people in Tennant Creek, has had no discernible support from this program over the last few years. Transitional care is a great initiative. Why did the two people who have been employed in that program recently resign? I understand those positions are now being filled. I also understand it is being funded through the HACC program, and HACC in the Territory, in the past, normally has been allocated to non-govemment organisations and voluntary organisations so they can enhance work in the community. I find it worrying that this program the minister is rightly applauding and rightly promoting is not funded from within the resources of the department, because for every HACC dollar that goes to government programs, there is a dollar less for community-based programs. We all know the dollars can be spent more effectively, often more appropriately, on the ground. That is not to denigrate the transitional care program - it is a good program. Pressures on the HACC services are consistently being reported by organisations throughout Australia, including the Northern Territory. Those reports relate to the difficulty of older people obtaining a small number of services, or having services cut back. These services are essential for older people to maintain independence and an appropriate level of dignity in their lives. They also have an important effect of preventing admission to residential care or, in some cases, hospital. There is also concern of increasing pressure on HACC services as hospitals pursue early discharge policies, and as the options of hostel-type residential aged care for low-dependent clients is reduced in the context of the aged care reforms implemented from 1997. The issues for HACC are about the allocation of resources between various target groups and the overall program funding. It is being affected in profound ways by ongoing changes in the health and aged care sectors; an increasingly older population needing services; and the increased emphasis in aged care policy on helping people remain at home. It is critical that allocation mechanisms and overall funding levels for HACC are continuously updated to ensure that the program remains able to achieve its fundamental objectives of maintenance of function, and assisting people to remain living independently in the community for as long as possible. Of course, that takes us on to the funding issues for HACC, and the Northern Territory doesnt do very well in comparison with other states when you look at their contribution to this very important program. The minister also talked about breaking down some of the barriers of existing mainstream programs. I think he is talking about his discussions with the Commonwealth on aged care for the Northern Territory. It was all a bit vague and I would appreciate more specific information on that. Is he referring to aged Aboriginal people in remote communities? I think he might be. I dont know why he is obscuring the issue, because it is a very vexed issue and it is a very important issue for the Northern Territory. We know that Aboriginal people in remote communities face enormous disadvantage in the provision of services. I am not casting aspersions on the government in that regard. It is simply difficult to provide those programs, and aged Aboriginal Territorians, of course, are probably among the most disadvantaged. If that is what he is talking about, why doesnt he say so? Why isnt he more specific about what he intends to do? This is a delivery of a speech about aged care, and we want to know what is going on. We dont want these vague comments going on for about three paragraphs. What discussions has he held on the development of innovative and flexible options for aged care? Have those discussions included the peak body? If one ignores the ministers obsession with having a go at the member for Wanguri, the rest of his speech is confined to self-congratulation about all the wonderful innovations brought in by the CLP for seniors: Seniors Card, International Year of Older Persons, the taxi scheme, and the pensioner concession scheme. Yes, minister, all are welcome, though many of them are in no way better than any 7509