My adjournment matter this evening is directed to the Minister for Community Services, Ms Wooldridge. It relates to a constituent in my electorate, Mrs Caroline Colby of Ocean Grove. Mrs Colby is a 33-year-old woman who became a tetraplegic almost 18 months ago. Since that time she has required 24-hour care. Caroline has no movement from her neck down and also relies on a ventilator 24 hours a day.
Subsequent to Caroline having spent an extended period in hospital and at a health accommodation facility, Caroline’s husband, James, and her mother, Sally, have taken on the task of caring for Caroline so she can be at home with her family, which includes her 20-month-old daughter, Emma. Caroline currently receives a temporary support package through the Department of Human Services, which was due to expire on 4 April but has been extended until the end of June.
This package is completely inadequate to meet Caroline’s needs.
Caroline’s individual support package, which I understand has been accepted by the Department of Human Services panel dealing with the funding needs of disabled people, shows that the temporary disability support allocation Caroline is currently receiving has a shortfall of 58 personal care hours per week. If this inadequate funding package continues, Caroline will have no choice but to return to an intensive care unit bed in hospital, which is no place for a young woman and will not assist in the developing relationship between mother and baby.
I ask the minister to urgently get involved in this case. The enormity of the situation this family finds itself in I believe requires the minister’s immediate attention, and I look forward to a resolution that will alleviate these very difficult circumstances.
The family has been pursuing this matter with a number of politicians all this year. I know the family has written to the Minister for Health, Mr Davis, and that he referred her to the responsible minister, to whom the family had already written. As recently as yesterday — it is nearly 2.35 in the morning, so it was yesterday — the family still had not had a response from the responsible minister.
I ask Mr Davis to take this matter up as a matter of urgency with Minister Wooldridge. I note Ms Wooldridge is so far on the record in the other place as saying she will not take on individual cases, and I think that is abhorrent. We live in a healthy, fulsome democracy that requires ministers to get involved, especially when we have dreadful situations like this in our electorates.