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Tuesday, 2 October 1984
Page: 1018


Senator GILES —Has the Minister for Veterans' Affairs seen recent Press reports of mounting pressure on home care services for the aged, of the possibility that such services will not be able to be maintained at the same level as they currently are and, further, that some service agencies are being forced to close their books to new clients? Is the Minister aware that amongst those who claim to be affected by this pressure on services is the widow of a Gallipoli veteran? Can the Minister say whether frail aged repatriation beneficiaries need be concerned about a reduction in the level of home help services provided through his Department?


Senator GIETZELT —The responsibility for the provision of home help services rests in most of the States of the Commonwealth and, in more recent times, since 1984 with the Commonwealth under the Department of Veterans' Affairs. It would appear that the popularity of the home help service scheme has exceeded the budget predictions of some of the States to the extent that there is now a greater demand for the services than what had originally been planned by some of the State governments. Therefore, I am not in a position to validate any of the criticism which has been made in newspapers by some journalists about the problems associated with the provision of services in some of the States.

However, as I indicated in response to a question asked about three or four weeks ago, the Department of Veterans' Affairs began a pilot scheme in February this year which was designed to keep veterans and their dependants in their homes rather than in nursing homes, hospitals or other institutions. That scheme was scheduled to conclude at the end of a six-month period. I indicated then that it was my belief that the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Mr Willis, would grant additional funds to carry forward the scheme into 1985, because $1.9m had been provided for the scheme in the 1984-85 Budget. In other words, $1.9m has been provided for the scheme next year, leaving an interim period requiring additional funding. That funding was made available by the Government so that there would be no interruption to the scheme.

In respect of the Gallipoli veteran's widow to whom Senator Giles referred, I am not sure, of course, whether she is a beneficiary of the Department of Veterans' Affairs. If she is a war widow or in any way a beneficiary under the Department's jurisdiction, she would be eligible and would have no difficulty whatsoever in qualifying under the home help services scheme. I cannot understand why the article made no reference to a Press statement I issued last Tuesday which indicated that the home help services scheme, which began as a Federal experiment, would continue on a permanent basis. There was no reference to that point in the article.

I take advantage of the question that has been asked of me to indicate that there will be no interruption to the home help services scheme which is run by the Department of Veterans' Affairs. In fact, in 1985, when the Budget allocation for this scheme will begin, it will be extended from the major cities to include some of the regional centres. I hope that if any distress has been caused to Mrs Temple she will be reassured that if she is in any way associated with the Department of Veterans' Affairs there will be no interruption to the services provided by the Department.