Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 February 1989)
Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 16 February 1989 substandard and unsatisfactory situations in the community. thus denying them the chance to realise their full potential as human beings. Although these persons are being cared for by their families, again due to lack of respite care services, the families often become exhausted and frustrated, resulting in the temporary abandonment of these persons, leaving them to fend for themselves. This results in hospital admissions, further reducing their capacity to retain a reasonable quality of life and at a greater cost to the Northern Territory government. Not only is it economically ludicrous to be using an acute medical hospital for respite care, it is also clearly causing the violation of human rights of intellectually, behaviourally and physically disabled persons and further violates the rights of the hospital staff. The right of disabled persons to live in their own community and receive services specifically tailored to their needs is clearly stated in the 1987 Commonwealth Disability Services Act. Furthermore, the legislation also makes specific reference to people who experience a double disability because of their origin. As an advocacy group acting on behalf of the intellectually, behaviourally and physically disabled persons in Tennant Creek and the Barkly region, we implore you to make available funds for the attendant and personal carers for the Tennant Creek and 8arkly area, housing through the Department of Lands to relieve the current crisis in Tennant Creek Hospital, and to establish full residential care with associated costs in Tennant Creek. We look forward to your response. Mr Speaker, that is not the first letter which the minister has received on this subject. I wrote to the minister last year pointing out to him that 2 intellectually-disabled persons had been forced on the Tennant Creek Nursing Home to a point where the nursing home was no longer able to nurse and care for those people or the other patients in the home. When the nursing home cracked crook about it, the doctor at the hospital said to its administration: 'If you want to know what is good for your next cheque and government support for this home, you will go along with this, take the people and keep your mouth shut'. That is how we are nursing the mentally, physically and other handicapped people in the Northern Territory. It is not satisfactory. There are some areas in which the provision of services is good, and the government is to be complimented on that. However, there are certainly areas in which we are falling well behind. I applaud any measures which move people out of institutional care and enable them to stand on their own. However, the fact of the matter is that, in terms of nursing the mentally-disabled, there will always be people who are incapable of looking after themselves. Those people need to be under constant surveillance so that they do not harm themselves. They possibly need to be nursed for 24 hours a day with constant care. There are some people, whom I might go so far as to describe as criminally-insane, who may need to be restrained for the greater part of their lives in an environment which, Mr Speaker, you and I would hate to have anything to do with. This is where our system is lacking. There is nowhere in the Northern Territory where such patients can be placed in a suitable environment and cared for satisfactorily and with some dignity. 5574
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