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Tuesday, 11 February 1986
Page: 29

Senator PETER BAUME —I ask the Minister for Community Services: Will the Government continue to provide funds for the volunteers in the attendant care pilot program after 28 February and at least until the Government has made a decision on the long term future of the program?

Senator GRIMES —At the moment I am having discussions with the new Minister concerned in New South Wales, Mr Peter Anderson-the previous Minister having been replaced-as to the source of funding. The situation is-Senator Baume would know this-that a report of the review of the attendant care program will shortly be considered by the Government. I have said repeatedly and will continue to say that we intend to ensure that those people who have taken part in the pilot program will not be sent back to institutions, back to where they obviously do not want to return. No matter what we do about an attendant care scheme we will have to make arrangements in the long term to look after this group of people.

I can understand the concerns of the people in the scheme but I can assure them that we will make suitable arrangements for them. We will obviously take some time to consider the report. I am sorry that it has been delayed. I hope that I will have finished my discussions with Mr Anderson, who has been the responsible Minister for only a day or so, about the roles of the relative government in arrangements in the interim, while we are waiting to decide what we will do about that report. Certainly I nor the Government will see these people just left in the lurch at the end of the program.

Senator PETER BAUME —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. It is now 11 February. The last payment will be made to these people three days from now. Their money runs out on 28 February. I ask: What will the Minister do to ensure the outcomes he has indicated? Has he told these people that they will be financially secure or do they face the prospect of giving up the jobs which they have as a result of having attendant care money? Do they face the prospect, in spite of the Minister's words, of going back into institutions because they can no longer afford to live independently?

Senator GRIMES —No, they do not. The question in my mind and that of the Government is not whether we will look after these people and support them but how we go about that and where the money will come from. I am absolutely confident that the money is there. Senator Baume probably realises-I would like to tell him now-where the money is coming from but it is a matter of making arrangements with the New South Wales Government.