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Tuesday, 13 May 1997
Page: 3157

Senator ALLISON —My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Family Services. Minister, the Council of Intellectual Disability told a New South Wales parliamentary committee yesterday that almost 1,000 young disabled people in New South Wales are forced to live in nursing homes with elderly residents. Minister, do you consider nursing homes to be appropriate permanent accommodation for young people with disabilities and mental illness? How many young disabled people are there throughout Australia in such accommodation? Why does the Aged Care Bill not mention people with disabilities or how they will be affected by the nursing home entry fees?

Senator NEWMAN —I do not believe personally that they are ideal places for people with severe disabilities, if they are young, to spend years in. However, that has been a point of last shelter, you might say, for many years for people for whom there was no other appropriate accommodation. That means that under the previous government that was the situation too.

I know that Mrs Moylan has been having a lot of discussions in recent times with the states to see what we can do better for people in Australia with disabilities. I know that this government has been across portfolios focusing very much on improving the lot of people with disabilities, and their carers. Beyond that, obviously, at this stage of the day, I am not able to say any more.

Senator ALLISON —Madam President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for her response. However, we would like to know what the government is prepared to do, particularly in the case where we end up with a two-tier system in nursing homes, as many people believe we will with your so-called reform? What sort of accommodation and services can we expect for these young people?

Senator NEWMAN —I am happy to take that on notice to the minister responsible, Madam President.