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Monday, 4 May 1987
Page: 2552


Mr SLIPPER(10.15) —Over the last two years a great deal of concern has been expressed by local residents over the lack of nursing home accommodation on Bribie Island, within the electorate of Fisher. Recently the new Federal Minister for Community Services (Mr Hurford) visited the island to examine the situation. Unfortunately it would appear that the Minister's visit will have little or no impact on the overall problem still facing our local senior citizens. His reported comment that the area is a priority to receive more care facilities is pleasing. However, under the Federal Government's current formula for nursing home bed approval, no additional beds are likely to be made available until the year 2000.

Residents should be aware that the emphasis by the Federal Government on the home and community care program leaves a shortfall of places in nursing home accommodation. Hostel type accommodation is provided through the HACC program, and this is fine. However, it must be remembered that when people enter hostels they do not remain at the same age and will ultimately need nursing home care. In my speech to the House on this issue last year I outlined that people are passing away while on the waiting list to enter the Bribie Island retirement village. Of course, that village is run by the Churches of Christ. My predecessor as the member for Fisher, the honourable member for Fairfax (Mr Adermann), played a very substantial role in assisting that village in the past. In fact, a section of that village is named after the father of the honourable member for Fairfax, Sir Charles Adermann. At the time I addressed the House last year I said I believed this was a real tragedy. The tragedy is unfortunately an ongoing one as, despite the best efforts of a wide cross-section of Bribie Island community organisations and others, no action has been forthcoming from the Federal Government to rectify the situation.

At the present time Bribie has only 30 beds for a population of over 1,000 persons over the age of 70 years. Because Bribie Island is included with the region of Caboolture for the purposes of of determining a nursing home bed ratio, the Department of Community Services believes the region as a whole `has a relatively high ratio of beds to aged persons over 70 years'. With the high percentage of senior citizens of Bribie it is clear that the area needs more nursing home facilities.

The fact that the Bribie Island retirement village received approval for a 17-bed extension to the hostel in September last year in no way diminishes the need for further nursing home accommodation. People currently waiting for placement cannot be expected to understand the current Federal Labor Government's reluctance to take immediate steps to ensure that Bribie Island receives the facilities it deserves and indeed is entitled to. I firmly believe the new Minister should take immediate steps to resolve the current problems being experienced. As far as the people of Bribie are concerned, the present anomaly concerning the allocation of nursing home facilities is one that must ultimately-indeed as soon as possible-be corrected.

There is little doubt that this problem will simply not go away. In fact, I am sure that residents will continue their strong fight to receive a fair allocation of nursing home beds. Local people-and, I might add, people of all political views-are involved in this struggle. They may be assured that I, in my capacity as member for Fisher, will continue to give this matter my strong support. People are entitled to Government help, and unfortunately to date this help has simply not been forthcoming. Following the Minister's recent visit, I hope that he will look sympathetically at the desperate need for additional nursing home facilities on Bribie Island. The people of Bribie are now looking to the Government to take the next step. The next move is up to the Federal Government and I certainly hope that that will be forthcoming in the very near future.