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Thursday, 20 November 1986
Page: 2624

Senator HARRADINE(4.16) —I place on record that I have a different understanding of what the Douglas Parker Rehabilitation Centre is all about. As I understand it, the Centre was designed to be, and was developed as, a community base which offered enhanced expertise in other areas as well as the rehabilitation area. From what I can gather from statements which have just been made by the Minister, two centres will be established, presumably in southern Tasmania. Did I misunderstand the Minister?

Senator Grimes —That's right. Two regional-type centres.

Senator HARRADINE —In southern Tasmania?

Senator Grimes —Yes.

Senator HARRADINE —I know that now is not the time to debate the matter, but I wonder whether the size of southern Tasmania warrants the breaking up of what essentially is a team operating out of the Douglas Parker Rehabilitation Centre. The Centre brings together all the professional agencies into one area and is able to provide a unique service offering multi-disciplinary assistance from the time that acute medical care becomes no longer necessary right through until the patient takes his place in the normal community environment. This care is not medical treatment offering a cure, but rather a problem-solving service. I thought that is what we were talking about. The group of agencies has not produced an institution but a base from which services are provided to the community.

The advice that has been given to me is that the service provided can be only as good as the people who provide it. The Centre's basic functional unit is a rehabilitation team which brings together professionals from many disciplines: Rehabilitation counsellors, physiotherapists, social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, teachers, nurses, speech pathologists, rehabilitation medical consultants and vocational counsellors.

To cut a long story short, if the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service staff were withdrawn from the team they could have a narrower outlook and could see rehabilitation as involving only their discipline. The problem with that is that it could lead to the restriction of options available to the person seeking rehabilitation. All these matters should be kept in mind. I agree with Senator Grimes that the agreement concerning the Commonwealth, Tasmania and the board of the Royal Hobart Hospital is very interesting. By the way, I do not see anything in the document which would require the Royal Hobart Hospital administrators or legal advisers to hang their heads in shame. It is vital that, if there is to be an harmonious resolution of the problem, full discussion and consultation take place.