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Wednesday, 13 October 1971
Page: 2241

Mr CALDER (NORTHERN TERRITORY) - My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer to an announcement by the Minister for Health concerning the Government's decision to purchase a motel to be used as a child care centre for Aboriginal children at Alice Springs. Can the Prime Minister inform the House how soon it can be expected that this centre will be ready to receive patients?

Mr McMAHON - Some months ago I received a letter from, I believe, Rev. Downing, the Chairman of the Ministers Fraternal at Alice Springs, in which he recommended to me that we should purchase a property in order to look after the young Aborigines in Alice Springs. Shortly afterwards 1 discussed the matter with my colleague the Minister for Health. He made a trip to Alice Springs and it was agreed that we would purchase a motel at a cost, I think, of about $275,000. Subsequently we exchanged letters of offer and acceptance and Crown Law officers are now completing the relevant documents so we can proceed rapidly to the completion of the building itself. We have agreed also to the expenditure of $25,000 on reconstruction work, although not a great deal has to be done as yet, to make the motel suitable for occupation by young people.

At the same time I have received a notification from the Public Service Board of a special request by the Department of Health for the provision of 45 extra positions for nurses and other supplementary people in order to man the hospital. Secondly, we have one other pretty important problem, that is, the provision of, I think, about 15 rural nurses to fill the complement of the hospital to provide hygiene, nutritional and other kinds of education for the mothers who might accompany the children and also to educate the children themselves. There will be 45- bed wards and 15 to 17 rooms that can be occupied by the mothers themselves. Regrettably I cannot tell the honourable member the actual date of completion but I think 1 can give him the assurance that I am exerting maximum pressure in order to ensure that these young people in Alice Springs get the best medical attention to which they are entitled.

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