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Wednesday, 8 December 2004
Page: 148

Senator Allison ask the Minister for Family and Community Services, upon notice, on 2 November 2004:

(1) Is the Minister aware that in Victoria: (a) there are now 3 155 individuals on the waiting list for supported accommodation; (b) 1 160 individuals are rated as urgent; and (c) the average waiting time for supported accommodation is now 140 weeks.

(2) When negotiating the next Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement, will the Government require state and territory governments to better meet their obligations in regard to people with disabilities who are assessed as being in need of accommodation services; if so, what targets will be set for reducing this serious unmet need and reducing waiting times; if not, why not.

(3) Is the Minister aware that families provide over 90 per cent of the accommodation, personal care and support of people with dependent disabilities.

(4) Is the Minister aware that only 10 500 Victorian parents of children with disabilities receive assistance from the state government, out of approximately 140 000 who require assistance; if so, what representation has been made by the Commonwealth to the Victorian Government to meet the needs of those currently not receiving assistance.

(5) Has the Government made representation to the Victorian Government suggesting that the revenue from selling the land on which Kew Cottages is located should be used for accommodation for people with disabilities; if not, why not.

(6) Does the Minister advocate choice of support and accommodation for families that are currently caring for a disabled and dependent person; if so, how.

(7) Is the Minister aware that the board of Endeavour, the largest service provider for people with intellectual disability in the southern hemisphere, has been forced, through inadequate Commonwealth and state funding, to close its services; if so, what action does the Minister intend to take to ensure that those services will continue to be made available to those who need them.

(8) What progress has been made in moving young people with disabilities from nursing homes into more appropriate accommodation in each state and territory.

Senator Patterson (Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women's Issues) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) I am aware that there is significant unmet need for accommodation support services across the country. The Victorian State government agreed in 1991, along with other state and territory governments, that they would have sole responsibility for the policy, planning and management of accommodation support services for people with disabilities in that State. The issue of shortages of services is best directed to the level of government responsible for those services.

(2) The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that State and Territory Governments meet their responsibilities under the Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement, however, I have no comment at this time on the details of the terms of a fourth Agreement.

(3) I am aware that of the 3.8 million people with disabilities living in households, 39 per cent do not require assistance and 37 per cent reported that their needs were fully met. I am not aware of the figure quoted or its source.

(4) See response to (1) above. The Australian government and Victorian State government discuss disability matters regularly, including through Community and Disability Services Ministers forums. We have consistently urged State governments to address the needs of people with disabilities and their families and carers.

(5) No. This is a matter for the Victorian Government.

(6) People with disabilities have the right to live as independently as is possible and in circumstances as close as possible to that of other people in the community. The Australian government and State and Territory Governments discuss disability matters regularly, including through Community and Disability Services Ministers forums. We have consistently urged State and Territory governments to address the needs of people with disabilities and their families and carers.

(7) I am aware that Endeavour Foundation has been seeking additional funding from the Queensland State government for its accommodation support services. Endeavour does not receive any funding from the Australian Government for these services, which, as is indicated in answers to other questions, is a matter for the state government. Endeavour does receive funding from the Australian government for employment assistance services. I understand that Endeavour is closing three employment assistance services, but has said this is for commercial reasons only. The Australian Government has provided assistance to Endeavour to ensure continuity of service to the consumers effected by Endeavour's business decision. People will continue to receive employment services.

(8) I understand that the number of people with disabilities under 50 living in aged care nursing homes has reduced in recent years. I am continuing to work with state governments to encourage the provision of appropriate forms of accommodation support to people with disabilities who need such assistance to prevent any need for their entry into aged care nursing homes, and where possible to offer individuals in those nursing homes a more appropriate service.