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 Northern Territory is a complete disaster. Our attitude has been one of apathy and neglect. The problem encompasses not only those children who are born handicapped or impaired but also those whose disability results from illness or accident. It is estimated that 13% of the population has some sort of disability. Most people can live a normal life, but it is something that could touch all our lives at some time. You or I, Mr Speaker, could need care tomorrow. It is a prospect we should all consider, and we should pause for a moment to imagine ourselves either as one of these parents or a person afflicted by a less than perfectly-functioning body. I could go on, Mr Speaker, to horrify you with case histories and examples, but that sort of shock tactic should not be necessary among feeling and reasonable people - and I hope that there are still a few of those in the Assembly. All sympathy and no action brings little comfort to this group in our community. In every direction, we are totally under-resourced. Every aspect of our service provision is inadequate. The media has been prominent lately on this issue and I am sure members will be aware of some of the tragedies in our midst. We do not need another excuse, Mr Speaker. There is insufficient time. If the quality of a civilisation were measured by the way in which it cares for its less able members, then I am sorry to say that we would rate very low indeed. There are many other aspects of this issue which need to be brought to the attention of the Assembly. I have raised just a few. These people in need do not have time for further government procrastination. How many more abandoned children, suicides and other tragedies will it take to get action? We need immediate attention in 3 areas. Firstly, the 15-16 year-old age group needs residential facilities. Secondly, respite facilities are needed for the behaviourally disturbed and handicapped who need special care and accommodation. Finally, the 16-plus age group requires at least 1 cottage for accommodation. An increase in respite facilities is needed now. Proper planning and consultation, the establishment of infrastructure, service provision programs and essential support for families and their disabled members is the minimum we should provide to assist these people to help themselves. Life with dignity is not something that people should have to earn. All the government has to do is help. I am ashamed to have to raise this issue because I too am a Territorian. The degree to which we have denigrated our fellow Territorians is a disgrace to this parliament and to this government. When is this government going to stop playing games and get on with the job of caring for those people who desperately need our assistance? These people continue to live lives of quiet desperation in appalling circumstances because of this government's inactivity. Mr HARRIS (Health): Mr Speaker, after listening to the member for Nhulunbuy, I am concerned that he really does not know what it is all about at all. It is a national problem. No one is denying that people who are handicapped, either physically or intellectually, have very real problems. That is the situation throughout Australia and the world. However, the member for Nhulunbuy obviously is not aware of the various programs that have been implemented by the Northern Territory government. He is not aware of national programs where both the Commonwealth and the Territory governments are looking at these problems. He stands condemned for bringing a matter of public importance before the Assembly without knowing what it is all about. Mr Speaker, I am very pleased that this issue has been raised today because there has been considerable debate about it lately and there are many people in the community who have misconceptions about what the government is 793

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