Young People Disabled Accommodation
The Hon. JOHN RYAN: My question is also directed to the Minister for Disability Services and is about a similar matter. Is it a fact that more than 1,350 people with disabilities under the age of 60 are living in aged care facilities in New South Wales? Has the Minister made a submission to the Council of Australian Governments inquiry into this issue and what commitment has he made in that submission to assist young people with disabilities who are living inappropriately in aged care facilities?
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: I thank the Hon. John Ryan for his question, which is in very similar terms to that of Ms Sylvia Hale. Yes, I am obviously aware that there are approximately 1,350 young people living in nursing home accommodation in New South Wales. I do not know whether I would describe the process as involving formal submissions. The Hon. John Ryan will understand that the Council of Australian Governments [COAG] process is a high-level process involving the Premiers and the Prime Minister. It was agreed in July to formulate a new approach to both the issue of young people in nursing homes—
The Hon. Catherine Cusack: Blah, blah, blah, blah.
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: Someone in a group home said that to me recently.
The Hon. Catherine Cusack: That's not very politically correct.
The Hon. JOHN DELLA BOSCA: No, but it is absolutely true. The fact of the matter is that the COAG process does not involve submissions. However, at the last Ministers conference I had a number of meetings with the Minister for Health, senior officers in the Cabinet Office, the Premier, the former Premier and the relevant Commonwealth Minister as well as representatives of the Young People in Nursing Homes support group and my colleagues in other States. I believe progress will be made as a result of the COAG process.
In New South Wales we have to be careful to understand the ramifications of young people currently supported in nursing homes being moved into other types of accommodation, and the vacancies they create in nursing homes. The issue of people occupying beds in acute care facilities who otherwise could be accommodated properly in nursing homes or other forms of disability accommodation, or other forms of ageing and retirement accommodation, is quite a complicated calculation. To be fair to both the Commonwealth and the State we need to make sure that the distinctions—
The Hon. John Ryan has to remember growth. He is falling into the very trap that I am trying to warn the House about, that is, the Commonwealth is in charge of a shrinking sector of demand. More and more people are choosing—the demographics are clear on this regardless of the ageing population—to be admitted to nursing homes at the end of their life rather than spend a long time in nursing home accommodation. The reality is that people in disability accommodation are living longer. The Commonwealth is alive to the concern that we do not want this to become a simple cost-shifting exercise by the Commonwealth against the State. We have been successful in persuading Commonwealth officers and the Federal Government that a proper, comprehensive plan is needed to make sure that we match accommodation to the needs of individuals, regardless of their age, and they are properly accommodated, regardless of the jurisdiction in which their care is currently undertaken.