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Thursday, 20 November 1986
Page: 2624

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(4.13) —The matter Senator Harradine raises is important. The Douglas Parker Rehabilitation Centre is in a different situation from other centres. As Senator Harradine says, there is an agreement between the Federal Government, the State Department of Health and the Hobart public hospital's board regarding the running of the Douglas Parker Rehabilitation Centre. It is an extraordinary agreement. Those who negotiated it some years ago still hang their heads in shame about it-I am talking about the public servants concerned and one politician I know who does the same. We provide most of the funds but have very little control. We are discussing with the State Government the proposal that we withdraw from Douglas Parker the vocational service we carry out there and provide it through two regional units in Hobart so that we have the community access we have talked about and have been aiming for.

The Douglas Parker Rehabilitation Centre will remain. We do not intend to withdraw its funding. We are perfectly aware of the fact that there would be no likelihood of our getting agreement with the State Government without continuing to fund the Centre. We have written to Mr Groom offering to continue funding for the Centre through our health grants, the Medicare system. Delays will not be a problem in Douglas Parker in the future any more than they are a problem there now because the Centre will still be there. We will have our regional units. We will, if necessary, have to get back our specialist assistance from the Douglas Parker Centre but we intend to maintain our financial support for it. I certainly think it will be a much more rationally run centre if we do not have the divided system we have there at the moment.

There is no intention to sell the Douglas Parker Rehabilitation Centre. The Douglas Parker Centre will remain. It will remain the Centre of medical-type rehabilitation in Hobart. At the same time, we will be able to provide more regional units in Tasmania, both in Hobart and outside Hobart, so that we have a better spread of services where the people are. I can assure Senator Harradine that the changes we intend to make in Hobart, if we can succeed in getting an agreement with the State Government, will be consistent with our moves towards community-based services. The present system we have there is certainly not consistent with those moves.