Independent Living And Equipment Program

13 Apr 2005 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for Industry and Trade, representing the Minister for Disability Services, a question about the Independent Living and Equipment program.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The 2004 annual report of the Independent Living and Equipment program states:

Waiting times for new equipment remain unacceptably high. . . The ILEP program strives to cope with inconsistent ‘top up’ funding, which precludes staff from strategically managing lengthy waiting list. . . The ILEP team at the ILC has become larger because of the need for more therapist assessments. The workload for all the ILEP staff has been high this financial year. The waiting list of approximately 700 clients has been reviewed and the number of new referrals for ILEP equipment has been approximately 1500. . . As has been common in the past few years, this extra ‘once off’ funding meant that staff had to work very hard at the end of the financial year to commit the available funds.

New responsibilities for the centre in that year include:

Accepting applications, determining eligibility, determining priority of requests, waiting list management, funding allocation, short time acute equipment requirements.

According to the financial statement, there is a $600 000 drop in the centre’s recurrent funding from the Department of Human Services, as it was then, from $5 372 220 in 2003 to $4 763 013. It refers to note 4 further in the statements, which also shows the drop. I do realise that the government has been lauding itself for the fact that it has injected one-off funds of $5.9 million for waiting lists for equipment, including for the ILEP program. It has also congratulated itself on its 16.8 per cent increase in funding since coming to office. My questions are:

1. Why was the recurrent funding to the ILEP program reduced by $600 000 from 2002-03 to 2003-04?

2. Given the additional commitment of equipment funds and increasing demand, will the government increase ILEP’s recurrent funding?

3. What is the waiting list as of close of business yesterday?

4. How much, as at close of business yesterday, has been spent?

5. Where has the 16.8 per cent the government congratulates itself on gone?

6. Where is the review of the South Australian Disability Services Act that was promised at the 2002 election?

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Industry and Trade): That was a very patronising question, typically, from the Hon. Michelle Lensink. The government does not have to congratulate itself. The reality is that there has been a substantial increase in equipment. It really is pitiful that the honourable member should try to attack the government—

The Hon. Caroline Schaefer: Answer the question.

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY: I am answering it. The government has made a substantial increase in relation to equipment in this sector. The honourable member herself gave the figure of $5.9 million, which was significantly in excess, she would have noted, of the entire recurrent support she claimed the government is giving—a massive increase, I would have thought—into that area of need. Members opposite need to work out exactly where they are going. On the one hand they come into this place and say this government should be cutting taxes. They want to spend money.

They are putting up huge lists of areas in which they think this government should be spending money. They need to work out their policies and where they stand. Do they want more money to go into the basics, as this government has been doing? This government has been putting money, in our three years in government, into health, education—

The Hon. A.J. Redford: Wasting money.

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY:Wasting money, he says. He is the person who was talking about the Hindmarsh Soccer Stadium. What was Hindmarsh stadium? What was theWine Centre? They are the experts in wasting money.

The Hon. A.J. Redford: Fifty soccer stadiums.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Members on my right are not assisting the minister. Members on my left are offending the standing orders and both will come to order.

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY: This government has significantly increased expenditure to try to address some of the problems with equipment for disabled people, but members opposite really need to work it out—and they will have their opportunity as there is an election coming up in less than 12 months, and they will be able to set out their plans of where they think money should be spent. They better work it out because they cannot promise to cut taxes and at the same time increase spending in all sorts of areas. I believe that sufficiently answers the question. In relation to any other specific detail, I will refer it to my colleague in another place and bring back a reply.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: By way of supplementary question, given that the Independent Living Centre consistently records underspends, when does the government, without providing additional recurrent funding for therapists to assess client needs, expect that the $5.9 million will actually be spent?

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY: If that organisation records underspends, perhaps the honourable member needs to investigate exactly why those underspends occur. I presume it is up to that government. The Independent Living Equipment Program is just as its name suggests—it is an independent living program. These are matters for my colleague, the Minister for Family and Community Services and I will refer it to him and bring back a reply.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I have a further supplementary question. Does the minister understand the difference between ‘capital funding’ and ‘recurrent funding’?

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY: I suspect that I understand it a lot better than the honourable member.