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Wednesday, 11 May 1994
Page: 686

Senator HARRADINE (7.16 p.m.) —The Burdekin report and the surrounding consultations and evidence have brought clearly into focus in the public mind the discrimination suffered by many persons with mental illness. I believe the government's response does not meet the expectations which that report and the subsequent debate raised in the minds of the public. The amounts included in the budget and the processes that have been developed do not meet the expectations raised by the Burdekin Report.

  Earlier today in question time I raised with the Minister representing the Minister for Human Services and Health, Senator Crowley, the plight of persons with dementia. I believe that this response is totally inadequate.

Senator Tambling —So was the answer to the question.

Senator HARRADINE —Yes, I agree with that, but I give the minister the benefit of the doubt. My questions are not always couched in terms that people can immediately recognise. The response in the Working Together document is totally inadequate. That is not only my view, but it is the view of those who are caring for persons with dementia. Their views are more important than mine. But more important still are the rights of those persons suffering dementia, and also the rights of others in, say, aged care facilities where some of these dementia sufferers end up. Having been in a number of these homes on a regular basis, I know that it is probably distressing for aged persons to be in the same area and to be disturbed by dementia patients who need separate attention.

  I am concerned about this matter. The current residential care and home and community care funding systems are in crisis because they do not meet the needs of people with dementia. I believe that the government should have addressed the chronic problem of under-funding for persons with dementia in a more adequate way.

  Dementia specific aged care facilities, I am advised, are facing such significant recurrent funding shortfalls that there is a real possibility that they may have to shut down. Some are already requesting licences to operate as nursing homes where the funding is much higher for the same group of residents for which they care. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

  Leave granted; debate adjourned.