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Tuesday, 31 March 1987
Page: 1520

Senator WEST —My question is directed to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. It relates to the setting up of home help programs for veterans in New South Wales. I am informed that a veterans home help service is available in other States. Can the Minister provide us with information about the provision of a veterans home help service in New South Wales?

Senator GIETZELT —The Senate would be aware that under the community employment program a pilot home help scheme for elderly veterans was conducted by my Department with the stated objective of maintaining veterans in their own home environment and therefore preventing their becoming patients of an institution earlier than necessary. It was a very successful pilot scheme and showed that it should become a permanent feature of my Department. However, in order to do that it was essential that we begin negotiations with State governments which had a similar community home help scheme operating. As we wanted to extend it from the metropolitan area to all veterans wherever they lived, negotiations were commenced with all the State governments with a view to rationalising the services and the Commonwealth purchasing services from the State authority.

Unfortunately, changes did not take place as quickly as we would have liked in New South Wales and agreements were reached with all other States but New South Wales. However, I have had a recent communication with the New South Wales Minister concerned, Mr Aquilina. The first discussions at an officer level have taken place with a view to the State participating in the scheme with the Commonwealth, of course, providing the necessary funds. I can assure Senator West that the delay that has taken place has not been the result of any lack of concern at the Commonwealth level; difficulties of reorganisation are taking place in New South Wales. However, those difficulties have been ironed out and the Minister has given us an assurance that very shortly there will be in operation a scheme which has already been satisfactorily transferred to States with Commonwealth funding back-up, to such an extent that persons wherever they live will be able to have assistance from the home help scheme.