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Thursday, 21 March 1985
Page: 569


Senator ZAKHAROV —Will the Minister for Community Services advise the Senate of the arrangements that will apply to services for psychiatrically disabled people under the supported accommodation assistance program, the handicapped persons assistance program, or the home and community care program? Is it the Minister's intention to exclude all such services from Commonwealth sources of funding?


Senator GRIMES —No, it is not my intention to do so. Services for pshychiatric people in the community have been, by and large, the responsibility of State governments. State governments in recent years, certainly with my agreement and I am sure with the agreement of most people here, have been moving towards the deinstitutionalisation of people with mental diseases or psychiatric illnesses. In doing so, it is important that the community provides services within the community for those people who previously would have been institutionalised. We do not want the situation to arise, as arose in some States in the United States of America, where deinstitutionalisation proceeded without the development of community services and people were left without such services. In those circumstances, I believe the State governments have a responsibility when deinstitutionalising people in this way to look at the funds they previously used in institutions to see whether those funds should not be used to provide services in the community. Indeed, the Richmond funds in New South Wales are intended to do that.

As for SAP, the sheltered accommodation program, at the moment we are discussing with the States what will be and will not be included in the program. Quite clearly, sheltered accommodation is at present provided for young people and, in some cases, women's refuges include accommodation for people with psychiatric illnesses. We cannot exclude them from that program. We have funded some halfway houses under that program and under the handicapped persons assistance program in the past, and in the future we will again fund halfway houses which provide accommodation for those who are leaving mental hospitals or other institutions and who are psychiatrically ill.

The home and community care program is designed to provide home services for people who need them, again to keep them out of institutions, both people who are disabled and people who are aged. Obviously some people under this care will be classed as being psychiatrically ill and, therefore, one cannot arbitrarily exclude them from such a program.

I qualify all that by saying that I do not believe it would be right for State governments-I am not suggesting that any State government would be so outrageous as to do so-to believe that they could take advantage of these programs to transfer the funding from programs that were traditionally theirs to the Federal Budget. Should they do so they will not get much co-operation from me or from the Treasurer.