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Independent assessment of department's handling of Docker River flexible aboriginal aged care service begins.



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THE HON JUSTINE ELLIOT MP

Minister for Ageing

MEDIA RELEASE September 23 2008

Independent assessment of department’s handling of Docker River flexible aboriginal aged care service begins

The Minister for Ageing, Mrs Justine Elliot today formally began the independent assessment of the Department of Health and Ageing's handling of the Docker River Flexible Aboriginal Aged Care Service.

This afternoon, Mrs Elliot formally wrote to Aged Care Commissioner, Ms Rhonda Parker to personally conduct an independent assessment of the Department of Health and Ageing’s handling of the Docker River Flexible Aboriginal Aged Care Service.

Mrs Elliot also wrote to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing, requesting she instruct departmental staff to cooperate with the assessment.

Yesterday in Federal Parliament, Mrs Elliot expressed condolences to the family of Ms Dulcie Brumby who died on June 14, 2007 at Docker River - after falling into an open fire.

(The Docker River service is also known as Tjilpi Pampaku Nguar Flexible Aged Care Service which is located 670 kilometres by road southwest of Alice Springs).

"It is now over to Ms Parker to begin work on this matter," Mrs Elliot said.

Mrs Elliot said while the department administers the funding for flexible aboriginal aged care services, they are not covered by the Accreditation Principles.

The referral to the Aged Care Commissioner includes the period before Ms Brumby's death - as early as 2005 when issues were raised by Maggie Kavanagh from NPY Women’s Council - through to the recent provision and monitoring of staff at the facility particularly at night.

Mrs Elliot described the death of Ms Brumby as an “appalling tragedy”.

“We must act to improve aged care services for older Indigenous Australians,” Mrs Elliot said.

Yesterday, the Australian Government detailed a plan to improve the long-term quality of aged care for Indigenous communities.

This includes setting - for the first time - an independent set of quality standards applied to flexible Aboriginal aged care services in remote and very remote communities.

This is supported by a $46.2 million program to support care staff and management, provide locum relief and improve facilities.

There are 30 Aboriginal flexible aged care services, providing about 700 places in mainly remote and very remote areas.

For more information, contact Mrs Elliot's office on (02) 6277 7280