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Wednesday, 16 October 2002
Page: 5284


Senator KNOWLES (2:39 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Health and Ageing. Will the Minister update the Senate on how Australia's first-class health care providers are assisting all victims of the terrorist attack in Bali?


Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Health and Ageing) —I thank Senator Knowles very much. In answer to an earlier question, I indicated that I had spoken to the relevant health ministers and/or their chiefs of staff to ensure that I was kept up to date in a first-line way with the ministers themselves. As I said, our doctors and nurses and every other part of our health system that have been involved have responded in a magnificent way. Since the beginning of the crisis, the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing has been in constant contact, as I said, with the states and territories to ensure the coordination of health resources. In Bali, counselling services have been provided to relatives and victims by four ADF chaplains, two psychologists and one trauma counsellor at the registration centre in the consulate and at the morgue in Bali. These services will be supplemented in the next few days. The consulate is also in the process of establishing support services to assist Australian and other volunteers who came to the assistance of victims following the explosion.

As I said yesterday, my department arranged for the dispatch of four medivac teams to Darwin and for a quantity of medical supplies to be sent to Bali. The department has also played a major role in facilitating the transfer of 49 serious patients to major hospitals in other states—of these, six went to Adelaide, 11 to Brisbane, eight to Melbourne, 12 to Perth, 12 to Sydney and I think seven injured people remain in Darwin hospital. These transfers were required because Darwin did not possess sufficient capability to handle adequately these serious burn cases. Twelve injured foreign nationals have been evacuated, including at least five seriously injured persons, and they have been distributed to major hospitals around Australia. As part of its national coordination role, my department is assisting in the compilation of a full list of people who have presented in Australian hospitals suffering from injuries received in Bali. Some of these people were not necessarily evacuated; they presented after having come back by commercial flights. This list will assist health authorities in management of longer term health support, including improving access to mental health services and rehabilitation. Importantly, we will work with the states and territories to ensure victims receive the care and rehabilitation they need. The Commonwealth is also compiling a national list of state counselling and mental health resources to ensure people can access these services. A national list of 1800 numbers is available on my department's web site: www.health. gov.au. It is clearly there, and there is a hot sync for people to access the relevant counselling services.

I want to congratulate the significant goodwill and effort being displayed by many private companies and community organisations across Australia in assisting the victims and families of the tragedy in Bali. Private hospital groups and pharmaceutical companies have made generous offers to donate medical supplies and services to the Indonesian victims of the bombing, and the government is currently working with them to determine what is required. I thought Senator Bartlett might be interested in that particular part of my answer. The Australian Private Hospitals Association have offered whatever assistance they can in treating Australian patients, and the health funds have offered to treat Australian victims as if they were injured in Australia. I thank them for their offer.

I just want to extend, once again, my appreciation to my state and territory colleagues for their efforts in these tragedies and to the senior bureaucrats and bureaucrats—many of whom have worked well beyond the call of duty to ensure the coordination of the treatment of people who are so seriously injured.