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Tuesday, 16 February 1971

Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (QUEENSLAND) -RANK IN - On 26th August Senator O'Byrne asked the Minister representing the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs in the Senate, without notice:

The Minister is no doubt aware of the isolated nature of Cape Barren Island in Bass Strait. It is often cut off from shipping in bad weather, and the aerodrome is in bad shape. Is the Minister aware that the indigenous community on the Island is most concerned about the closing of the hospital and the departure of its trained nursing sister? They are concerned also at the lack of someone on the island trained in first aid for amongst the Island people are aged and invalids as well as families with young children and babies. Will the Minister make representations to the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs to have an inquiry made into the closing down of the hospital and the lack of a trainednursing sister on the Island?

The Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The Tasmanian Department of Health Serv ices has advised that the whole question of the continuation of a District Nursing Centre on the Wand is at present under review and also alternative suggestions are being considered. The Sister who served on Cape Barren Island for some 15 years finally reached the stage where she was no longer able to continue. It is extremely difficult to obtain the services of a trained nursing sister forsuch a remote and lonely area as Cape Barren Island.

Atthe presenttime the District Medical Officer is visiting the Island on the second and fourth Thursday of every month. This service is supplemented by a Royal Flying Doctor Service medical chest which is administered by the Headmaster and his wife on a voluntary basis. The Royal Flying Doctor Air Ambulance Service providesan emergency service and can reach the island in approximately one hour, except at night and exceptionally bad weather conditions. There is also a fast Police Launch based on Flinders Island which can make the night crossings with the Doctor in emergencies. Until a firm decision is reached regarding the future of the District Nursing Centre the medical care of the Islanders is adequate.

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