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Tuesday, 16 April 1985
Page: 1100

(Question No. 8)


Senator Puplick asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 21 February 1985:

(1) What level of financial and staff support will be provided for the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Task Force (Prof. D. Penington, Chairman) for the balance of the financial year 1984-85.

(2) Have specific funds been earmarked for support of the Task Force in the financial year 1985-86; if so, how much.

(3) Will the Minister for Health give an unequivocal undertaking that no attempt will be made to restrict the public statements issued by the Task Force.

(4) What is the relationship between the AIDS Task Force and the AIDS Advisory Committee.


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

(1) My Department provides secretariat and financial support for the AIDS Task Force. The financial allocation for 1984-85, to cover the Task Force's travel, sessional fees and incidentals, is $18,244, of which approximately $3,100 remained unexpended as at 21 March 1985. A Departmental officer is acting full-time as secretary to the Task Force and six other officers, who deal with AIDS matters day to day, provide part-time support to the Task Force.

(2) As allocations for 1985-86 are subject to confidential Budget deliberations, I cannot answer this part of the honourable senator's question. The matter of support of the AIDS Task Force will be considered in negotiations between my Department and the Department of Finance.

(3) No. The AIDS Task Force is responsible to the Australian Health Services Council which is a Commonwealth/States body not subject to my direction.

(4) The Task Force reports to the Australian Health Services Council and provides advice on medical-scientific aspects of AIDS and on public health measures required to prevent and manage the disease.

The purposes of the National Advisory Committee on AIDS is to provide two-way communication between the Federal Government and the Australian community on AIDS and its implications. It does this by advising me on how best to inform and educate the general community and particular groups as necessary on AIDS, and also on the development of counselling and support services for people with AIDS and those responsible for their care.

The Task Force provides medical-scientific advice and information to the Advisory Committee. Although the two bodies report to different authorities, close co-ordination of their activities is facilitated through my Department.