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Monday, 11 August 2003
Page: 13116

Senator Allison asked the Minister for Family and Community Services, upon notice, on 27 May 2003:

With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 1357:

(1) Given the answer to part (2)(b), can the Minister explain the discrepancy between the answers given and the figures published by the Department of Health and Ageing on page 10 of the Australian on 24 March 2003.

(2) On what evidence does the Minister base the assertion in answer to part (3) that the government disability services deal with clients with higher support needs.

(3) With reference to the answer to part (3), that the current snapshot service data and the Productivity Commission cost data is to be treated with caution, and that the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare demand study has not been fully recognised in the Commonwealth State and Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA) growth funding: how does the department do its planning with such unreliable data.

(4) With reference to the answer to part (7), that the `Commonwealth's view is that residential aged care rarely provides appropriate accommodation support for younger people with disabilities': does the Minister accept that this is the only option for accommodation for some families.

(5) Can a copy be provided of the CSTDA Implementation Plan mentioned in the answer to part (8).

(6) With reference to the answer to part (9)(b), which states that the department encourages states and territories to address the needs of young people in nursing homes: (a) how does this occur; and (b) is this encouragement monetary.

(7) Given that the second CSTDA was held up with disputes over funding and the third CSTDA remains unsigned after nearly a year, despite the disability administrators' CSTDA implementation plan, does the Minister recognise the failure of the CSTDA negotiation process to reach agreement on national strategic policy and funding issues; if so, what process will be put in place to reach agreement.

(8) With the limited growth funding available to the CSTDA over the next 5 years, how is the work plan in relation to young people in nursing homes going to be achieved.

(9) With reference to the Victorian Department of Human Services' estimate of a 46 per cent growth in service demand for disability services by 2011: how is the CSTDA planning for this growth.

Senator Vanstone (Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The data published in The Australian on 24 March 2003 included all people under the age of 65 in Commonwealth funded residential aged care at 31 January 2003. The data provided in response to question 2b, QON 1357, however, was only on the number, age group, and jurisdiction for people under the age of 65 in Commonwealth funded high (nursing home) and low (hostel) residential aged care where the State or Territory Government was the approved provider of aged care services.

(2) As part of their client selection process, Government-funded disability services give priority to those people with highest needs, especially those with high support needs or a combination of factors which place them at a critical situation.

(3) The Commonwealth has been collecting whole of year data for the last three years for disability employment services. Whole of year data is superior to snapshot data used in the Productivity Commission Report because it provides a count of service users accessing a service throughout the full year. This data is robust enough to be used for planning and policy development.

(4) The Aged Care Act 1997 specifies that younger people with disabilities will be accepted into nursing home care on compassionate grounds and where there is no other alternative. My Department has worked with the Department of Health and Ageing to tighten admission guidelines to ensure that admission is a last resort, and to ensure that all young applicants for residential aged care are first assisted to pursue more appropriate options through their state or territory government.

(5) A copy of the CSTDA Implementation Plan will become available when the CSTDA has been signed by all jurisdictions.

(6) (a) The Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) has met a number of times with State and Territory government officials to discuss strategies that could be included in Bilateral Agreements. At these meetings jurisdictions are strongly encouraged to address the needs of young people in nursing homes and to include relevant strategies and performance indicators in their Bilateral Agreement.

(b) There is no extra funding attached to CSTDA3 Bilateral Agreements.

(7) The Commonwealth is pleased with the outcomes achieved to date under the CSTDA negotiation process. We have a much more robust agreement which provides greater transparency and accountability to parliaments and the public as well as bilateral processes to achieve greater flexibility and better service delivery for people with disabilities. To date, two States have signed the Agreement and it is expected several more will follow in the coming weeks.

(8) The issue of young people in nursing homes is a complex one, involving players from the State and Commonwealth, disability and health areas. Many of the bilateral agreements establish mechanisms for all parties to work together on this issue.

(9) The Commonwealth has made a commitment of nearly $5 billion under the third CSTDA for disability services over the next five years. This is an increase of $1.7 billion over the last Agreement including an extra $835 million to address unmet need in employment services with the increased employment funding announced in the 2003-04 Budget.

In order to establish and reform systems to improve demand management over time, all Bilateral Agreements contain a standard clause that commits jurisdictions to provide information on improvements in areas such as systems to predict, monitor and manage inflows, methods for assessment and prioritisation of applicants, and systems for balancing long-term accommodation demand with other intervention.