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Thursday, 14 November 1985
Page: 2179

Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE(3.49) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I speak briefly to the first annual report of the Department of Community Services which covers the period from 13 December 1984 to 30 June 1985. It follows the announcement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) on 11 December 1984 of the creation of the new Department of Community Services to co-ordinate all government social security, community services, health and welfare policies, and also to administer some of the subsidy programs in that area of government work. I take the opportunity to refer to the establishment of the Department and to the repeal of the National Welfare Fund, a move that was supported by all parties and by other bodies such as the Joint Committee of Public Accounts in May this year.

Senator Puplick —And first proposed by you, Senator.

Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE — Yes, it has been proposed, I think, on a number of occasions, and in May this year the National Welfare Fund was repealed. Future amounts will come from standing appropriations and the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Senator Button —It is an on-going contribution which you have made, for which we are grateful.

Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE — Thank you, Minister. That is a very appropriate comment.

Senator Button —Recognition, even if too late, is worth while.

Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE — Thank you. The interest I have in the new Department is in the development of the programs under broad bands, such as disability services or the home and community care program which has now been established. In fact, legislation is listed on the Notice Paper today to put into effect the new home and community care program. This program, which has been designed to help aged and disabled people stay in their own homes, is a way in which the Government can work with the voluntary organisations in the States and Territories to achieve a range of services that can have support from Government and can be developed in accordance with the needs of the community. I was pleased to see that this program has been established. When I look at the top structure staffing diagram of the Department, I find that the home and community care program is under the charge of Miss Mary Scott, who is an experienced officer in the Department and who, I feel sure, will bring a great deal of experience and intelligence to the work of this essential program.

I am aware that there has been a great deal of discussion with the States through a committee that has been negotiating and interpreting the aims of this program and has been looking to provide programs that will have additional funds available, in at least the next two years, of $25m in 1985-86 and $30m in 1986-87-on a three-for-one basis in the first instance and a two-for-one basis in 1986-87-to those States which have concluded agreements with the Commonwealth on this program. Thereafter the matching funds will be provided by the Commonwealth on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

I do not think anyone would accept that the establishment of a new way of working will provide solutions unless there is achievement within that program and that objective. I look with hope to the development of the range of services that will not only enable people to stay in their own homes for as long as is possible, with as much independence as is possible, but also provide those services when they are unable to remain in their own homes. I have taken this opportunity simply to refer to this new Department's creation and to the new programs that will work within it. I look forward to hearing the results and the achievements of these programs in the years ahead.

Question resolved in the affirmative.