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Tuesday, 14 October 1975
Page: 2038

Mr YOUNG -Will the Minister for Health inform the House how many Australian Government health centres have been built throughout Australia? What services are available at these health centres and at what cost to the patients?

Dr EVERINGHAM (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Health) - I do not have the exact figures of the number of health centres in Australia but there are some hundreds. When this Government came to power, as I said in response to a question on hospitals earlier this week, there was no concerted effort at the national level to integrate hospital facilities. Indeed, the States were floundering in attempts to integrate services. We had the spectacle of things like baby health centres, immunisation clinics, marriage guidance services and all kinds of activities trying to sustain themselves in isolation. All sorts of voluntary organisations were making initiatives to help autistic children or spastic children or whatever. There was no integration, no attempt even to evaluate the services or the need for services. We have set about following the guidelines in the first report which was brought down in the first 6 months of this Government's office by the interim committee of the newly formed Hospitals and Health Services Commission. We had a signal success in achieving integration, a new direction in health care, a new concern on behalf of the States and a new integration of their efforts and ours and those of voluntary organisations. We had a signal success in upgrading the job satisfaction of doctors and other professionals who work in this area, a significant success in involving the community in what is increasingly a matter of community responsibility- to take responsibility for its own health and not leave it to professionals in ivory towers, to move health care out of the highly expensive area of institutions and hospitals and into the community. This success will continue.

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