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Friday, 10 May 1985
Page: 2074


Ms FATIN —Is the Minister for Health aware of an article on the front page of yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald relating to AIDS and haemophiliacs, which states that last November the Federal Government promised funding for more counsellors for haemophiliacs and that there is still no sign of the money? Is this statement correct? What has the Federal Government done to try to prevent haemophiliacs from getting AIDS?


Dr BLEWETT —I thank the honourable member for her question. Yes, the article has been drawn to my attention. I must say, first of all, that the remarks it made about funding are incorrect. Last December the Commonwealth Government committed $5m to $6m in emergency funds in relation to AIDS. In distributing those funds I accepted the advice of the National Advisory Committee on AIDS that a proportion of that money should be allocated for information, education and counselling, including the counselling of haemophiliacs. However, I have to point out that the delivery of actual services in this country is mainly the responsibility of the States, so these moneys have been provided to the States for services in relation to AIDS.

We, as the Federal Government, however, have taken specific action in relation to haemophiliacs. First of all, in December 1984 we provided and put aside $10,000 for AIDS anti-body testing, specifically for haemophiliacs. Secondly, the Department of Health has had detailed discussions with the President of the Australian Federation of Haemophiliacs on requirements for that organisation and we have given the Federation a grant of $20,000 for administrative support services. The President of that society has been included on the National Advisory Committee on AIDS. We have covered the expense involved in developing a special method of treating factor 8 by a heat process, hopefully, to eliminate the possibilities of contamination of the plasma provided through factor 8. Those are specific actions that the Commonwealth has taken.

I also wish to take the opportunity, because the statement on funding in the Sydney Morning Herald was pretty inaccurate, to indicate just what the Government has done in relation to funding for what is a major public health problem in this country. As part of the emergency grants, we have provided $2,700,000 for the Red Cross Society, mainly for its blood transfusion services in relation to AIDS. We have established, at a cost of $291,000, a national reference centre at the Fairfield Hospital. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories have been provided with $350,000 to upgrade their blood processing treatment. Media advertising, with which many honourable members would be familiar, has cost us some $651,000. Pamphlets have been provided at a cost of $131,000. In addition, $1.5m has been provided to the States for education, support and counselling services. In conclusion, I say to all members of the House that we face a major public health problem in this area which will make great demands on both Commonwealth and State health resources.