Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 28 February 2001
Parliamentary Record 27
Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 28 February 2001 the Top End, rather than having to go interstate. I applaud the efforts of this government as we move towards providing excellent services up here. This will be an ongoing quest because more and more people are staying; more and more people are ageing. We need, therefore, to work towards improving the services here, as does any community in Australia. I applaud the moves of the government, and I look forward to assisting in the development of these services over the years. Mr HENDERSON (Wanguri): Mr Speaker, this is the first statement from the minister for a very long time about government policy on aged care. When I opened it up and looked at it, I was astounded to find it was just a total sledge, with lines of inaccuracies, of what I had to say about inadequate numbers of nursing home beds in the Northern Territory and Darwin in particular. There is nothing visionary in this. It is a heap of rhetorical verbiage from a minister who has no vision of future aged care policy for the Northern Territory government. He just trots out tired old pohcy initiatives, most of which were actually completed a number of years ago. I say to the minister at the outset - bearing in mind his hysterical rantings about the comments I made recently regarding the inadequate number of nursing home beds in the Territory - that he is failing in his responsibility as Minister for Senior Territorians by failing to acknowledge in this statement today that there is an inadequate number of nursing home beds in Darwin. You acknowledged this fact in an adjournment debate last year when you stated in answer to a question as to how many Territorians were waiting for nursing home beds in Territory hospitals: Unfortunately, Territorians being cared for in hospitals awaiting accommodation were as follows: Royal Darwin, 17; Alice Springs, 1; Gove, 0; Katherine, 1; Tennant Creek, 4; a total o f 23. And I say unfortunately because this is an inappropriate place for them on many occasions. And further: But it is a matter o f concern that 23 Territorians are in hospitals who are nursing home appropriate. This is the minister in this House, in an adjournment debate in June last year, acknowledging we do have a problem, and acknowledging that these Territorians, these elderly Territorians, are inappropriately being cared for in hospitals as opposed to appropriate nursing home or hostel facilities. Last year this is where the minister was. What a hypocrite! A minister who can only trot out rhetoric and fails even to admit in this statement that the lack of nursing home beds in Darwin is a significant issue for seniors in our community. This really is a significant issue and this statement does not acknowledge that fact. When the going is getting tough for this minister, he trots out public servants to defend his laziness and inaction as a minister. Whenever he is in trouble, the call goes through to his main trouble shooter and, I might say, one of the best staff at Royal Darwin Hospital - Len Notaras. He wont get up and defend his inaction; he summons Dr Notaras to his defence. It is disgraceful to hide behind public servants and not defend his own ministerial incompetence. I again place on the public record my acknowledgement and praise for the very good work performed by Dr Notaras. He alone is responsible for the recruitment of a large number of clinical and administrative specialists to Royal Darwin Hospital. It has nothing to do with this governments strategic approach to recruitment and retention; it is all to do with Dr Notaras powers of persuasion and his extensive networks in the health community. Let us look at the press release I put out, which the minister so tritely says you could drive a truck through, and also the scenario leading to that press release. I was contacted by a constituent prior to Christmas last year about how extraordinarily difficult it was getting home-based support for his elderly mother who had recently been discharged from Royal Darwin Hospital having suffered a stroke. He was desperate. He could get no one to assist with his mothers care. She was virtually bedridden, hardly eating, and rapidly losing weight. He had exhausted all avenues. All non-govemment organisations he contacted had stated their services were fully subscribed and they could do nothing to help. This man and his mother were in crisis. For the minister to say that some seniors in our community are not in crisis is an absolute denial that we do have problems in this area. To give the ministers department its due, as opposed to the minister, I called the senior adviser in his ministerial office, outlined the case, and asked what could be done. To give credit where it is due, a call came very quickly from officers of the department, and a care plan was put in place to provide an interim crisis level of home-based care to 7512
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