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Wednesday, 14 May 2003
Page: 14613

Mr Kelvin Thomson asked the Minister for Ageing, upon notice, on 19 March 2003:

(1) Has he engaged in consultations with Baptist Community Care concerning the proposed closure of the Church Nursing Home in Blyth Street, Brunswick, and has he engaged in consultations with anyone else regarding this issue; if so, with whom.

(2) Did the Commonwealth provide capital assistance for the Church Nursing Home before, during, or after its construction in 1995; if so, (a) what was the value of that capital assistance, (b) were there any conditions attached to the provisions of that assistance and (c) will the Commonwealth be seeking a refund of any or all of that capital assistance.

(3) Does the Government have any policy to ensure that capital assistance for nursing homes is not wasted; for example, if a nursing home constructed with Commonwealth funds were proposed to be demolished after 30 days is there any action the Commonwealth could take to prevent this.

(4) Does the Government have any policy concerning the re-allocation of bed licences; for example, if a body which has an allocation of bed licences sought to transfer those licences to a facility in an area of lesser need, would the Government allow this; if so, in what circumstances.

(5) Has he received representations from the Member for Gippsland concerning Baptist Community Care nursing home facilities; if so, what action did he take following those representations.

Mr Andrews (Minister for Ageing) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) No.

(2) Yes; the Commonwealth provided a capital grant to the Church Nursing Home in June 1994; (a) $891,000, (b) yes, (c) the Grant Agreement provides that the Organisation shall not at any time, demolish or sell or otherwise dispose of or mortgage or encumber any part of the approved home or any part of the land on which the approved home is situated, without the approval in writing of the Secretary. The Secretary may, in giving approval, impose such conditions as the Secretary sees fit. In making a decision on whether to make repayment of part or the entire grant a condition of the Secretary's approval of sale, all relevant circumstances surrounding the sale will be considered.

(3) Yes.

(4) The allocation of aged care places is governed by the Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act), which contains provisions relating to the transfer of aged care places from one provider to another and the variation of conditions of allocation of places, e.g. from one locality to another. If a provider wishes to vary the location at which aged care places are available, the provider must apply to the Department of Health and Ageing for approval to do so. Each application is considered in accordance with criteria specified in the Act and in the Allocations Principles 1997. For variations of the conditions of allocation, in deciding whether the variation is justified in the circumstances, the Department must consider whether the variation would meet the objectives of the aged care planning process specified in the Act.

(5) Yes; representations have been received from both the Member for Gippsland and the Member for Macmillan. The Members were advised that if the Approved Provider wished to seek capital funding it would need to apply to the Department of Health and Ageing through the annual Aged Care Approvals Round.