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Friday, 7 September 1984
Page: 668

Senator REYNOLDS —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware that the Queensland Minister for Health, Mr Austin, has asserted that there is an aged care crisis in that State? Can the Minister state whether there is such a crisis and, if so, the reasons which have created such a situation? How does the Queensland Government compare with those of other States in the provision of services for the aged? What initiatives are planned by the Federal Government to help aged Queenslanders?

Senator GRIMES —As Senator Reynolds says, Queensland Ministers, such as Mr Austin , frequently make claims of the type that he has made. However, they always ignore the fact that in the provision of facilities such as aged care there is a Commonwealth and a State responsibility. Queensland has as many aged persons homes and as many beds for aged people per population as any other state in Australia. It receives funding for this purpose from the Federal Government at the same level as other States. Dr Blewett, Senator Gietzelt and I are in the process of negotiating with the States for the introduction of a new package for aged care so that people can be cared for in their own homes much more than they are now. Thus we will have fewer people in nursing home accommodation. All the surveys that have been done throughout Australia, including Queensland, reveal that a far too high percentage of aged people are in nursing home accommodation, and as the honourable senator will know it is the most expensive form of accommodation. The success of the aged care program that the Government is negotiating with the States will depend on the co-operation of the State governments. It will depend on the Queensland Government contributing in line with the other States for the provision of services and co-operating with the geriatric assessment teams so that we can reshape the face of aged people's accommodation in this way.

In the past the Queensland Government has always been loud and long in its complaints about what the Commonwealth does and does not do in its State. The simple fact of the matter is that the Queensland Government, as in so many other areas, such as child care, provides less assistance to aged people than any of the other States. Any fault in the distribution of aged persons accommodation in Queensland can lie largely with the lack of co-operation that the Queensland Government regularly shows with the Federal Government, whether it is a Labor government or a conservative government.