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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 34

(Question No. 1575)

Senator Reynolds asked the Minister for Community Services, upon notice, on 5 December 1986:

(1) Is the Minister for Community Services able to report on progress in regard to the Home and Community Care Program in Queensland.

(2) When will Local Government and community organisations be advised of successful applications.

(3) Why is Queensland's Health Department so slow in implementing this important federal initiative to assist elderly people.

Senator Grimes —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) Queensland was the last of the States and Territories to sign the HACC Agreement with the Commonwealth. This did not take place until April 1986.

(2) and (3) $11.4 million is available for new Home and Community Care (HACC) services in Queensland in 1986/87.

The Queensland Government's Department of Health called for applications with closing dates on 15 July, 15 August and 15 September 1986.

I understand that some $50 million worth of applications for HACC service were received by the State, the bulk of them by 15 August 1986.

The Head of my Department went to Brisbane on 30 October to discuss with the Director-General of Medical Services of the State Health Department ways of expediting the application process. He was given assurances that applications would progressively be assessed so that by mid/end November most projects would have been able to be recommended to the State Minister and me.

I received formal advice from the Queensland Minister of Health and Environment dated 31 December 1986 that he has now approved 53 projects totalling around $4.3 million. My Department is now preparing for my consideration this first package of projects from Queensland.

I note that a new Minister-Mr Ahern, has taken responsibility for the Queensland Department of Health and Environment. I can only hope he is able to change this situation where applications are taking around five months for assessment prior to going to Ministers.