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Wednesday, 26 June 1996
Page: 2251


Senator HERRON —Mr President, on 19 June Senator Chamarette asked a question without notice. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the answer to that question.

Leave granted.

The answer read as follows

QUESTION WITHOUT NOTICE

SENATOR CHRISTABEL CHAMARETTE—19 JUNE 1996

I refer the Minister to answers by her colleague the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs concerning Aboriginal infant mortality rates, to ask:

(1) Has the Minister's attention been drawn to the announcement that funding for the Ngunytju Tjitji Pirni health project in Kalgoorlie is to end at the end of 1996?

The Government is committed to supporting effective primary health care initiatives in maternal and child health care managed by community-controlled health services.

The Ngunytju Tjitji Pirni was established primarily as a research project securing the vast majority of its funds from an NHMRC Research Grant.

(2) Why has the Government withdrawn funding from the project without reviewing its progress?

I am advised that the Government has not withdrawn funding. The Office of the NHMRC has not received any reports to date from the organisation and has not received a submission for funding in 1996/97. The Department of Health and Family Services has asked the NHMRC to send a copy of the Final Summary Report and any other reports from the organisation to assist in assessment and negotiation of future funding needs of the Service.

The organisation also receives funding under the Department's Healthy Women—Strong Families initiative which commenced in 1995-96 and will be supported as a recurrent program from 1996-97 with funds provided by the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services.

(3) What steps has the Minister taken to review the report of the West Australian parliamentary committee's inquiry into the project?

I am advised that the Department of Health and Family Services and the Western Australia Health Department have commenced discussions about outcomes of the project and arrangements for a joint review in July 1996 to determine ongoing funding and service delivery arrangements for the Service.

BACKGROUND:

The Ngunytuju Tjitji Pirni Health Project receives funding from several sources, including two different programs within the Department of Health and Family Services. A three year research project is funded by the Office of the NHMRC and is due to be completed in November 1996.

Informal progress reports on the NHMRC research project and the 1994/95 Steps into the Future Report published by Ngunytju Tjitji Pirni have generated a great deal of support and interest in this initiative both within the Department and with other interested organisations.

Ngunytju Tjitji Pirni has not applied to the NHMRC for funds in 1996/97. Therefore the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services in my Department is waiting on the Final Summary Report of the NHMRC Research Project to finalise for negotiations with Ngunytju Tjitji Pirni and Western Australian Health Department concerning ongoing funding for this important initiative.