Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is to the Minister for Community Services. Can the minister explain to the house how the Bracks government is supporting the health of older Victorians by providing a continuum of care and in particular what the government is doing in my electorate to focus on the high-care end of this spectrum?
Mr JENNINGS (Minister for Community Services) — I thank Ms Tierney for her question and in fact for eliciting spontaneous support from members of the other side of the chamber in trying to rope themselves into the important commitment of the Bracks government to make sure that we support those people right throughout Victoria, in this context in the Barwon south-western region, which is part of the Western Victoria Region electorate to which many members lay claim.
In fact I am sure there are many members of this chamber who will lay claim to the great initiatives that have been undertaken by the Bracks government to support older members of those communities right throughout that region.
I had the good fortune last Friday to see, in its construction phase, a fantastic new state-of-the-art nursing home facility in Grovedale, which the Bracks government has supported. It is a 108-bed facility with a construction cost of $25 million, which is part of the third stage of the McKellar Centre redevelopment. During the life of the Bracks government we have committed to the redevelopment of 261 beds through three different facilities. The majority of the redevelopment has taken place on the McKellar Centre site. The new greenfields nursing home in Grovedale in the southern part of Geelong will provide for timely care for citizens of that region now and into the future.
I took the opportunity on that occasion to also indicate to the community throughout the Barwon south-western region the significant contribution that we recognised — —
Mrs Coote interjected.
Mr JENNINGS — No. When it has been opened I would be very happy for all members to be invited. This was actually a site visit and possibly my familiarisation with it did not warrant a full-scale invitation to all members of the region. But indeed I look forward to that in a better time frame.
Mr P. Davis — So what was the basis on which they were invited? There wouldn’t be a political overlay, would there?
Mr JENNINGS — President, I can see you are about to assist me in not being distracted from my essential message on behalf of the government, which is to indicate that we recognise our commitment to older members of the community when they require nursing home care, but in fact that is not the only recognition of the support that it is appropriate to provide for older people.
I took the opportunity to make the announcement that $693 000 would be added to the aids and equipment program throughout the Barwon south-western region, which will in fact eliminate the waiting list of 379 people who have been waiting for aids and equipment through the disability program. I am very pleased to be able to say that the majority of the beneficiaries of that announcement will be older members of the community.
I took the opportunity to indicate that significant investment will be made through the home and community care program (HACC) throughout the region. It is a fantastic program in which the Bracks government more than matches the funding requirements of the state and commonwealth HACC agreement that we provide for the appropriate support of older members of the community to live at home independently and with high-quality home and community care.
In the Geelong municipality alone $17 million was allocated to home and community care in the last financial year. Indeed we estimate in the next year that funding will increase by more than $1 million in Geelong alone to support the quality of life of older members of the community. Indeed $35 million is being spent throughout the Barwon south-western region to try to make sure that people can live independently and be appropriately supported at home, regardless of where they live throughout the region.
The Bracks government is very keen to support older members of the community, regardless of where they live, but particularly throughout Western Victoria Region. And I note the sheer enthusiasm of the opposition benches to join with the Bracks government in trumpeting the support that we provide to older members of the community.