Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (11 November 1986)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (11 November 1986)


Debates for 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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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 - Tuesday 11 November 1986 from their physical and intellectual disadvantages, can be attributed to this government1s blind pursuit of financial absurdities while ignoring the plight of the Territory1s disabled. This callous disregard, which would not be tolerated in any- other part of Australia, is best demonstrated by the inadequacies within the present so-called system. there is no sound statistical data on which policies can be formulated. The role of government in service delivery can be best described as invisible. Persons in isolated communities are largely, if not totally, ignored. Finally, funding levels are inadequate and fail to address existing and emerging problems. We all agree that the Territory is a fine place in which to live. It is not such a fine place, however; if you are a handicapped person. Over the last 8 years, despite a plethora of surveys, this government has ignored the needs of handicapped persons and offered no solutions or hope. Like SCarlet OIHara in IGone With the Wind l , it will think about it tomorrow. There are probably 1500 handicapped persons in the Territory. That figure represents 1% of our population, and it is a conservative estimate. Our studies indicate that the level could be as high as 3%. We could be looking at as many as 4500 people, although we know of only 300 individuals. We do not know about the real numbers because this government hopes that, by ignoring the needs of these people, the problems will simply go away. They will not go away; they will increase. Experts in the field will confirm that we need 40 more beds immediately. We urgently need 1 fully residential cottage at Somerville, and it is critical that we address the crisis in respite accommodation here and now today. For the information of honourable members, respite is like insurance for families. It is the opportunity to have a break from the constant attention involved in caring for people who have problems. In many cases, parents feel guilty about accessing respite because it is seen as a reflection of their inability to cope or because they perceive that others have greater needs. However, in the Northern Territory, desperate parents plead continually for respite. The profoundly handicapped need constant care. We cannot hide our problems in southern institutions any longer because they will not take any more of our people. At present, about 60 Territorians are in this position. It is a disgrace in itself that 60 Territorians are exported because we cannot take care of them. In Darwin, we have only 12 beds available at Somerville for severely handicapped people. There are 6 other beds at the Harry Chan Nursing Home. Those people who have less difficulty need the opportunity to partake as much as possible in normal life. The right to generic services like housing, education and employment is the accepted philosophy in the care of these people throughout Australia. They need a variety of facilities such as hostel accommodation, supervised cottages and flats. The Handicapped Persons Association has accommodation for 6 people as part of its vocational training orientation. . . Quite clearly, the situation can be seen to be desperate. The problems are so many and so depressing that it is hard to know where to begin. The minister acknowledges the need but, as usual, there is no money. People are tired of this continuously-used fob. Of course there is money, but it just is not available for the needy; it is available only as window dressing for the electorate. . 790