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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 1231

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) - 1 too support this Bill and commend it to the Senate. It is part of the social services programme embraced by the Budget and it is part of a new deal in social services which will lead to the abolition of the means test in the not too distant future, it is a simple Bill of 4 clauses which, as the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) said in his Budget Speech, provides that the personal care subsidy for aged persons will be doubled, lt is as simple as that, though many other points were mentioned by honourable senators who spoke earlier in this debate. The Government wants to pass this Bill as soon as possible because, as the Bill itself states, it will come into effect as soon as it receives royal assent. The increases it provides will be paid almost immediately if it has a speedy passage through the Senate. I have noted that this Bill was not even debated in the other place; the Minister made his second reading speech and it went straight through.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think you will find that the 2 Bills were taken together and that debate on them took place simultaneously.

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) - That may be so. As a result of our way of life people have achieved a greater average life span and there is a greater percentage of elderly people in our community. Therefore the community at large has an even greater requirement to care for the aged. This is a problem of our civilisation and of our way of life; we simply have to provide care for a greater number of aged people. Elderly people feel lonely. Then there is the problem that many elderly people feel unwanted; they believe that nobody cares about them. I know that this is a sincere and genuine feeling and that in many cases it is very difficult to overcome. There is the problem of loss of freedom of people in homes or institutions and there is the problem of providing homes or institutions close to the usual place of living of the persons in those homes or institutions. If an elderly person is taken right away to another part of the State in which he lives, he is right out of his environment and his relatives and friends are unable to visit him. This has a disastrous effect on many old people. But if we can provide some form of accommodation for or some way of looking after these people in their own home areas so that their friends can visit them, this has a very great psychological effect on them in their old age.

The Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) in his second reading speech said:

I am sure all honourable senators will agree that these people, by their past contribution to the development of this country, have earned the special considerations provided in the Budget.

The doubling of the rate of personal care subsidy together with the implementation of a special 3-year crash programme to stimulate the provision of more hostel-type accommodation should correct a pressing shortage of suitable accommodation to the frail aged.

Later in his speech he said:

To qualify for the subsidy a home must provide meals and employ sufficient staff to help any residents who need assistance with bathing and dressing, room cleaning, personal laundry and the general oversight of their medication. In addition a staff member must be on hand at all times in case of emergency.

As 1 think Senator Davidson has already mentioned, the people who provide this type of service for the aged must be dedicated people and they are to be commended for their work. I have always advocated that social service help for the aged should be increased during each 5-yearly period over the age of 65 years because as people get older they become less able to fend for themselves and need more and more help. In this Bill we are establishing to some extent, the principle, by providing this additional service for those over 80 years of age. It is another example of the humanitarian legislation introduced by the present Government to help our elderly citizens. I support the Bill and commend it to the Senate.

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