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Senate inquiry on disability services act

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Mr R ay B raithw aite, Shadow M inister for Community Services and Aged C are today called

for a Senate inquiry into the whole mode of change u nder the D isability Services Act,

w ith particular re fe re n c e to the accommodation and funding arra n g e m e n ts th a t are in

place, and the d if f e r e n t types of services th a t are needed.

’We seek an inquiry into the operations of the D e p a rtm e n t in the im plem entation of

the Act, the d ifficu lties being faced by providers o f services, the lack of choice

available to clients, the inflexibility of d e p a rtm e n ta l o ffice rs and the M inister,

and the lack of u n derstanding of the d if f e r e n t d e g re e s of d isab ility ’.

We want to give the industry the opportunity to consult w ith the Com m ittee. A t the

moment, services providers cannot even g et an ap p o in tm en t w ith the M inister, let

alone consult w ith him; th e re is only co n fro n ta tio n .

The Shadow M inister was speaking in F ed eral P a rlia m e n t on P a rt 5 of the Community

Services and H ealth Legislation Amendment Bill 1989 which proposes am endm ents to fa c ilita te the phased tra n s fe r of all nursing homes fo r disabled persons from the

Nursing Homes A ssistance Act 1974 to the D isability Services Act 1986 by June 1992.

’We will oppose these am endm ents’, said Mr B ra ith w a ite , ’for one reason. The message

we are getting from the 38 nursing homes who have y et to tra n s f e r is th a t they have

no fa ith that the guidelines in the Disability Services Act will do anything to

assist them in the tran sitio n stag e.’

Crowle Nursing home has indicated that if it comes w ithin the guidelines of the

Disability Services Act, in some cases the cost of providing care will double or even


A n o th er nursing home, Fairholme - the only nursing home jn the S outhern Hemisphere

th a t caters for epileptics, and which has been in o p e ra tio n for 21 y ears - says th a t

th e re is no g u a ra n te e th a t in the tra n sfe r the people will be looked a f t e r with the

same quality of care th a t was provided b efo re, because the funding will not be there.

The Minister does not recognise the d eg ree to which the in tellectu a lly handicapped

could be affected, said Mr B raithw aite. Nor does he recognise the d if f e r e n t d egrees

of handicap, and th e re fo re the d iffe re n t types of services needed. Most

establishm ents are willing to change, but they are not g e ttin g a g u a ra n te e from the

Government that, if they are prep ared to give it a go, the funding will follow.

We must give the industry the opportunity to consult on these changes, said Mr

B raithw aite. That is why we are referrin g this section of the le g islatio n to a

S enate inquiry. B efore any fu rth e r changes are im plem ented, th e re must be


CANBERRA, 26 May, 1989 Inquiries: Ray Braithwaite (079) 576411