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Tuesday, 21 August 1984
Page: 86

(Question No. 943)

Senator Peter Rae asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 5 June 1984:

(1) Have funds for the program of aids for the disabled been exhausted in some States.

(2) Why has this situation come about.

(3) Has the scheme been abused.

(4) What action has the Minister for Health taken to investigate the administration of this scheme.

(5) If no action has been taken, will the Minister immediately initiate an investigation into the administration of the scheme and give an undertaking to report to the Parliament the results of that investigation.

Senator Grimes —The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Funds originally provided for the program of aids for disabled people (PADP ) in 1983-84 were $7.1m, an increase of 27 per cent over 1982-83 funding. The original allocation was virtually fully committed by the end of March 1984. The Government was concerned that disabled people within the Community were suffering unnecessary hardship as the waiting list for aids increased and accordingly, an additional $3.8m for PADP for 1983-84 was approved in May 1984. Total funding for PADP for 1983-84 was therefore $10.9m-a 95 per cent increase on 1982-83 funding.

(2) The underlaying reasons for the accelerated commitment of original 1983-84 funding ($7.1m) were increased demand for aids and the fact that most states issued aids on a first come first served basis although the PADP arrangements provided that the states may determine priorities in the issue of aids as between categories of aids and/or recipients.

(3) There is no evidence that PADP has been, or is being, abused.

(4) and (5) As indicated in my News Release of 26 May 1984 announcing the additional funds for PADP for 1983-84, it is not possible in times of financial restraint for the program to be left open-ended and the States have the continuing responsibility for ensuring proper regulations of monies spent under PADP.

My Department recently examined the operation of PADP in the current Budget context, with a view to developing options for the future of the program, including proposals for greater expenditure control and to ensure that funds are provided on an equitable basis with priority to those in need. These proposals will be discussed in detail in consultations with the States and Territories, and I will be seeking the assistance of all State Health Ministers in working together with the Commonwealth so these objectives can be reached.