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Wednesday, 1 June 1994
Page: 1059

Senator TEAGUE (1.12 p.m.) —I rise for a few minutes to refer to the strong concern of many citizens within my state of South Australia about a hostel for the aged. I refer to the Southern Districts War Memorial Hospital, at McLaren Vale in South Australia, which is within the federal division of Kingston. There is a great need for a hostel to be associated with this hospital.

  Over 1,000 citizens of South Australia have signed a petition to urge the federal government to make provision for this hostel. I have the petition in my hands. It is some 70 sheets of paper; it has come to me in various parts over the last several weeks and it contains 1,059 signatures.

  The petition, unfortunately, is not in a form to be presented at the time of presenting petitions because it does not exactly fit the definitions of our standing orders and it is addressed equally to the state parliament of South Australia and to the federal parliament. I therefore want to put firmly on the record the words of the petition. Although technically not conforming to our standing orders, it addresses a matter of very real significance. I do this to keep faith with these 1,000-plus South Australians. The petition is in the following terms:

We, the undersigned residents of the catchment area served by the Southern Districts War Memorial Hospital Inc., at McLaren Vale, South Australia, seek the support and agreement in principle of the Federal and State governments in the following: to allocate funding for residential hostel accommodation in aged care services to be established at the hospital as a priority for the financial year 1994-95 in the government's program of care services for older people. The Willunga Local Government Area currently has no hostel accommodation facilities and is serviced inappropriately, with residents having to leave the district for hostel accommodation and care.

Signatures and addresses are given for the 1,059. The addresses are almost entirely from the following suburbs or semi-rural areas: McLaren Vale, Maslin Beach, Sellicks, Reynella, Morphett Vale, Moana, Aldinga, O'Halloran Hill, Seaford, Hackham, Willunga, Victor Harbour-Mt Compass, McLaren Flat and Noarlunga.

  There is one other element to the petition. Understandably, it is circulated in April-May with the hope of affecting the financial year allocations by the government to begin in July this year. With more careful advice, these citizens would have been encouraged to have got their petition together in December last year in order to have the full impact upon that financial year's budget. I nevertheless urge that full consideration be given by the Commonwealth government, in proper liaison with the state government of South Australia, to include it at the earliest possible time so that this project might go ahead.

  I therefore—through you, Mr Acting Deputy President—put this plea to the duty minister, the parliamentary secretary in the chamber. I also put it to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Housing and Regional Development, the Hon. Brian Howe, not least because of his involvement in these matters of policy over many years; to the Minister for Social Security, Peter Baldwin; to the Minister for Human Services and Health and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women, Carmen Lawrence; and also to the South Australian minister assisting in these areas, the Minister for Family Services, Senator Crowley. I urge these ministers and their advisers, and the public servants in departments that can carry out the liaison and formulation of putting this in place, to respond to this petition from South Australia.

  Some of the petitions that came to my office came through a letter that was addressed to me by Friends of the Southern District War Memorial Hospital. The post office box number is 313 at McLaren Vale, South Australia 5171. I conclude by noting that we sometimes have the greatest difficulty as members of parliament in bringing to the attention of an incumbent government the desperate needs of people for institutions such as a hostel. Public servants and ministers, even with good intentions, sometimes say, `We have to look at this ruthlessly on the basis of how many hostel places are provided per head of population.'

  At the moment, South Australia's population is not growing at the same high rate as that of Queensland and Western Australia and some other places. In terms of an ageing population, South Australia needs to be rightly understood in demographic terms. There are continuing needs, not least in the new suburbs such as those I listed earlier in the south. There are new and developing suburbs where elderly people are now coming for the first time and they need such a hostel. Also, older Australians want to live close to their own families such as those who are living in the southern suburbs of Adelaide. I do urge the Commonwealth government to respond positively to this petition. I seek leave to table the document.

  Leave granted.