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Tuesday, 13 November 1973
Page: 3187

Mr DOYLE (LILLEY, QUEENSLAND) - I refer the Minister for Social Security to various reports claiming that the Australian Government is not assisting aged persons to find appropriate accommodation and nursing home care. Is this true? What has the Australian Government done to provide adequate nursing home care?

Mr HAYDEN -We have expanded the aged persons homes accommodation program which includes provisions for financial assistance for hostel and nursing home services. We have advised the voluntary, charitable and religious groups in the community that are engaged in this sort of commendable enterprise that if they wish to purchase an existing establishment - for instance, a private or a commercial nursing home or a private building that can be converted satisfactorily to nursing home services - they will attract a subsidy from the Australian Government on the basis of $2 for every $1 that they contribute. This is part of the program. We have also indicated to them that they would not be restricted as to the proportion of the total bed accommodation provided in complexes - that is aged persons independent living accommodation, hostel accommodation and nursing homes. They would not be restricted as to the proportion of total accommodation which must be nursing home bed accommodation. That is to say, they can vary it between 0 per cent and 100 per cent if they wish and they will still attract a subsidy from this Government. These are significant alterations in this program. They were alterations which had been sought over many years by the voluntary, charitable and religious groups in the community and had always been rejected by previous governments. One of the early things that we have done is to amend the procedures in this way to give greater opportunity to these commendable organisations to provide more accommodation and to do so quickly.

I am aware of a particular illustration in Queensland, for instance, in which the Metropolitan Fire Brigades Board has reported adversely on quite a number of private or commercial nursing homes as fire hazards. Because I am concerned about this - I was alarmed to find that the last Government had tolerated this situation for many years - this

Government has been encouraged on my recommendation to offer $1.2m to the State Government of Queensland to provide accommodation alternative to existing structures as quickly as possible for nursing home cases that might have to be transferred out of fire hazard accommodation. We have received a reply from the Queensland Government which is recommending another approach to this proposition. We are considering that. I make the point that we are exploring various ways in which we can improve the capacity of the voluntary agencies and State governments to provide this sort of accommodation. We are taking the initiatives. We will not be mean and restrictive as past governments have been in this field.

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