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Wednesday, 18 September 2002
Page: 6608


Mrs DRAPER (3:24 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Ageing. Can the minister inform the House of the government's response to the aged care specific nursing recommendations made in the National Review of Nursing Education 2002—


The SPEAKER —I interrupt the member for Makin. I think the minister is having trouble hearing the question.


Mr Fitzgibbon —I can hear it all right!


The SPEAKER —I remind the member for Hunter that if I were to act as the standing orders oblige me, he would not now be in the chamber. The member for Makin can commence her question again and be heard.


Mrs DRAPER —Can the minister inform the House of the government's response to the aged care specific nursing recommendations made in the National Review of Nursing Education 2002 released earlier this week?


Mr ANDREWS (Minister for Ageing) —I thank the honourable member for Makin for her question and her continuing interest in health and aged care in Australia. I welcome the report of the Review of Nursing Education, which was released earlier this week by my colleagues the minister for education and the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Patterson. I commend those who are responsible for this comprehensive report, in particular Mrs Patricia Heath, the chair of the task force that compiled the report.

There are a series of recommendations in the report for Commonwealth, state and territory governments and also for the health sector. I am delighted to be able to inform the House that a number of the initiatives outlined in recommendations of the report, particularly in relation to aged care, are already being addressed by the government. These include the $211 million in additional recurrent funding, which was announced in this year's budget; the pricing review, which I referred to earlier in the week; an initiative worth $26.3 million designed to create 1,000 scholarships for nurses in Australia, particularly those who wish to go into or remain in the aged care sector; an additional $21.2 million for training aged care workers, personal care workers, particularly those in smaller homes in rural and remote Australia; and, in addition to that, the review of the paperwork burden for nurses in aged care.

There is one other recommendation which I will address: a call for a nationally consistent framework to be developed that allows all nurses to work within a professional scope of practice, including the administration of medications by enrolled nurses. In this country, we have an absurd situation where, for example, in the state of Western Australia an enrolled nurse can give an insulin injection to a resident of a nursing home, whereas in every other state of Australia an enrolled nurse with the same qualifications is not permitted to give—is prohibited in fact—an insulin injection to a resident of a nursing home. Indeed, this is more bizarre because not only that enrolled nurse but anyone for that matter—any of us; a spouse of an elderly person living at home, for example, in receipt of a home and community care package or simply living at home, as the great majority of elderly Australians do—could receive an insulin injection from anybody else. So we have this bizarre, restrictive practice, so far as nursing is concerned, that enrolled nurses in most states of Australia cannot do something as simple as give an insulin injection to a resident of a nursing home. I noted and welcomed that in their press release welcoming the Review of Nursing Education, the Australian Nursing Federation said, `It is now time for all interested parties to work together in responding to the report's recommendations.' I call upon all state and territory health ministers, who are responsible for the legislation in this regard, to follow the recommendations of the report and to amend their legislation.