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 In his speech, the member for Nhulunbuy outlined many of the problems that continue to plague physically-handicapped and intellectually-impaired people in the Northern Territory. Mr Speaker, I am sure you will agree that the picture is depressing and only prompt action by the NT government will give some dignity to these people and save lives and families in the Northern Territory. To date, the government has shown no willingness to apply itself to accepting responsibility for the care of these people, and recent media events have shown and expressed that. Unless this government shows some initiative immediately, the circumstances of these people can only deteriorate. To this end, I will make some suggestions which I hope that the minister and the government will accept and adopt in the future. Lack of planning is an excuse for having done nothing . We believe quality decisions are based on quality information. We cannot plan or make decisions if we have no information. In fact, we would not build casinos based on a guess about their viability - or maybe we would. But, essential services cannot be planned or provided for handicapped people if we do not know how many there are, how severe their condition is, whether they are 6 or 60 years old, Aboriginal or European, or whether they are near help or not. No information is available, and it must be if we are to be effective and efficient in this vital area. The information must be gathered and managed properly. We believe the Disabled Persons Bureau must be given adequate resources in order to become an effective agency and not just a token created as a political gesture for the International Year of the Disabled. As an umbrella organisation advising government, its role must be truly active as it was intended to be originally. It is entirely appropriate that this bureau should be the focus for coordinated activity. The new philosophy of integration, not institutionalisation, for disabled citizens has to be promoted and funding must be provided to support these people and the groups that have roles to play in this field. We hear the words 'economic restraint' often from this government but, as a society, we must care for these people and offer them dignity and independence. These people need help now. Other states have lotteries and community chests; our lotteries would not fund 1 facility. If gambling proceeds can be used to support less fortunate people elsewhere, why not here? The casinos could be the source of some benefit to this community if the taxes were as they should be. The revenue could well be directed to the care of the needy. The income generated this way would enable agencies to plan on a more certain economic basis rather than at the whim of a minister or the Cabinet. For instance, agencies could develop triennial funding based on present and projected needs. These people need more money. They need professional care and support, as the member for Nhulunbuy indicated. They need more therapists urgently and, to attract them here, we need to pay them at least as well as the states do. As the minister said, speech therapists, in particular, are in short supply, but we urge him to keep seeking the type of people that we need here. At the Henbury Avenue School, there are at least 40 children who need speech therapy at all times. At the moment, they are lucky to receive 2 hours per week. This is disgraceful. The trend these days towards normalisation for handicapped people means that communication skills are paramount. How can we hope to cater for these needs if we pay less than other states? Why would professional people come to live in isolated areas, with all the associated stresses, for equal or less 798