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Thursday, 10 May 1984
Page: 1930

Senator COLSTON —I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Are certain aids available for disabled people in Queensland under a scheme which is funded by the Commonwealth Government and administered by the Queensland State Health Department? What aids are available under this scheme? Do those aids include surgical shoes? Has the provision of some aids recently been approved but not been made available because of a lack of funds? If so, what level of funding is required to allow the program to continue? Have those funds now been made available?

Senator GRIMES —As Senator Colston says, certain aids are available to eligible persons under the program of aids for disabled people, the so-called PADP scheme . The scheme is funded by the Commonwealth Government but the States in each case are responsible for the day to day administration of the program. The program was designed to provide aids for daily living for disabled people who are not eligible under other government programs to assist in keeping them in the community rather than in institutional care. Categories of aids available include: Home modifications, wheelchairs, oxygen, prostheses, surgical footwear, wigs, electro-larynxes, aids for incontinence, walking aids and all sorts of equipment and appliances for personal use.

Over the years since this program was initiated, I think in 1980, the amount of money allocated has been increased. In the last Budget $7.1m was allocated to the States and Territories under this program. That money has already been fully committed in Queensland and in all other States. In fact, the money was fully allocated, I believe, more than a month ago. That has led, of course, to the deferment of some applications for aids. In other words, the program is federally funded but administered by the States. The States are responsible for the expenditure of funds. Because of pressure on the program, those funds have, in fact, already been utilised. That, of course, has created problems of the type that Senator Colston has mentioned.

The matter of additional funding for the program for the remainder of 1983-84 is under consideration by Dr Blewett. All State Ministers have been consulted and will be informed when a decision has been made. But it must be understood that that decision will have to be taken against the background of a need for restraint in Commonwealth expenditure. The State Ministers are well aware of that. They were notified of it at a recent conference. The result of those considerations, which I dare say will have to be brought to Cabinet, will be made known as soon as they are finalised by the Minister and his Department.