I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse a question.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Last week I met with a representative from Family Matters, an alcohol and other drugs service, which has been the recipient of state funding of some $50 000 per annum. This has enabled it to fund (among other services) an 1800 number for individuals and families in crisis. Family Matters estimates that its crisis helpline has received up to 30 phone calls a day, many from grandparents who had been assaulted and robbed but who were too afraid to report it or prosecute through the police.
I am advised that Family Matters has a sister organisation in Victoria which receives $300 000 per annum from the Victorian government and that its Tasmanian and Western Australian counterparts are supplied with full overheads, including premises, equipment and up to four salaries, by their respective governments. Family Matters tells me that it has applied three times for commonwealth funding through the Stronger Families Program. However, the administrators have told Family Matters that they need to demonstrate stronger local (that is, state) support if they are to be successful.
Family Matters would like to expand its services, especially to include those which do not exist in this state, including a residential rehab service for single mothers who, they tell me, often refrain from seeking help for fear of losing their children to Families SA. Family Matters told me quite clearly last week that it is yet another non-government organisation which does not know whether the government will continue its funding after 30 June. My questions are:
1. What should I advise this organisation in relation to its funding?
2. Is the minister concerned about the closure of the 1800 number for people and families in crisis?
3. Have any NGOs or the peak body (SANDAS) sought meetings with the minister in relation to funding issues?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO(Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse): You would think that after a break of a couple of weeks the honourable member could have come back with a fresh, new question. I have answered the same question in this council before, so it is incredibly sad that, after all that time, the honourable member could not come back with a fresh or different question. This goes to the issue of NGO funding. I have given this same answer previously, in response to this member’s questions. It has to do with NGO funding. NGO funding and other funding matters are a matter of the budgetary process, which is in place. The budget will be announced in a week or so. We will not be releasing any details of the budget until that time. It is the same information that I have given out time and again. As I have said in this place before, for those NGOs it is the same answer as I have given before.
It is really sad that the honourable member could not come back with an original or fresh question. But, not to worry, she has rolled out the same old question and I am really pleased to roll out the same old answer, which is, in terms of NGO funding, all those groups that I have said—
The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink interjecting:
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Mr President, perhaps if she listened to the answer this time she would not have to come back and ask the same question again and again. So, again, I will answer the same question: in terms of NGO funding, I have invited those organisations that are meeting budgetary problems before the end of the financial year to approach my office to discuss their specific funding issues and we will set up whatever arrangements that are needed to assist them in the interim. I have said that, and I have said in this place previously that some organisations have come to see the department and we have gone through their budgets. In regard to many of the NGOs, because of the spending cycle, their funds do not run out at the end of June. Many of these NGOs’ funds roll out for at least another couple of months. Some of the funding rolls out until December of this year.
So, it only applies to a few, and those organisations have been invited and we have sat down with them and addressed every specific budgetary problem that has been brought to our attention. The reason honourable members cannot find fault is that we have been dealing with it at an individual organisational level and working with these organisations to ensure the continuity and flow of their services in light of the budget being handed down at the particular time that it will be.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I have a supplementary question, Mr President. Is the minister—
The Hon. G.E. Gago: I hope it is not the same old follow up question.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: This is about drugs, Gail. This is about mental health NGOs.
The Hon. G.E. Gago: It’s the same old supplementary. Let’s hope it is an original supplementary, Mr President.
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Will the minister confirm whether SANDAS, the peak drug NGO, and Family Matters have sought meetings with her and been refused, which is what they told me?
The PRESIDENT: That is hardly part of the answer.
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: This is the same old question, Mr President. Even her supplementaries are repeat supplementaries, Mr President. I have answered this same old supplementary question previously. I have said that any organisation that has sought to see me or my department has been able to do so. We are willing to meet with them; we have invited them to meet with the department and me, and we have done so. I do not have a list of those particular organisations but I am happy to supply it. Any organisation that has requested a meeting has been given an appointment time. Whenever possible, I try to personally attend these meetings but, unfortunately, I am not able to attend—
The PRESIDENT: Order! Both sides of the council will come to order. It is like a rabble.
The Hon. T.J. Stephens: Throw him out.
The PRESIDENT: And Mr Stephens will come to order, also.
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Thank you, Mr President. If the honourable member bothered to listen to the answer, she would not have to keep asking the same old questions and the same old supplementaries over and over. Even in spite of the break it is the same old, same old. So I hope she has paid attention today. Any organisation that believes it has a budgetary problem is welcome to make a time to come and see my officers. As I said, whenever possible, I try to attend meetings where I am requested, but unfortunately I am not able to attend on every occasion. I try to extend myself as far as possible, but if I am not able to be there I ensure that an appropriate officer is available—someone with the authority, knowledge and skills to help that person deal with the problem. That is the issue.