Tuesday 2 May 2017
Daniel Andrews has announced ten new taxes in two years but has effectively cut the number of residential mental health beds.
The Government's own budget papers show that Daniel Andrews is failing Victorians struggling with mental illness by cutting the number of mental health beds.
Buried away on page 244 of Budget Paper number 3 is the disclosure that the government fell around 16,000 short on residential bed days this year and have wound back their target next year by a further 12,000 bed days.
Daniel Andrews likes to brag about his doctored Code 1 ambulance figures, but his own budget papers show that Victorians in the midst of a mental health crisis are being let down.
The Andrews Government has failed to meet its target of 75 per cent of emergency patients being admitted to a mental health bed within eight hours - falling a whopping 15 per cent short.
Daniel Andrews is not only the highest taxing Premier in Victoria’s history, he’s the highest taxing Premier in Australia. Despite being the highest taxing state, with a $10 billion windfall from the Port of Melbourne lease, this budget fails to deliver for on the ground mental health support for people in crisis.
The Andrews Labor Government has failed to support more than 25 community-based groups to establish ice prevention programs in their local area.
Established education and prevention strategies in rural and regional Victoria have also missed out in the latest round of the Community Ice Action Grants.
“The ice scourge is hurting families and country communities and there are dozens of groups ready to make a real difference but have been passed over by Labor,” Shadow Minister for Mental Health Tim Bull said.
“If this Government was serious about tackling the damaging impacts of ice they would fund all of these programs and continue support to those with successful programs already in place.
“After the windfall $9.7 billion sale of the Port of Melbourne lease there is no excuse to refuse funds to those trying to make a positive difference in their community.”
About 40 applications were submitted from groups across the state, 12 received funding.
Under Labor the 13 groups funded last year, including Mildura’s Project Ice and other programs in Rochester, Warrnambool and Wangaratta, will not receive ongoing funding.
“The reality is Labor talks a big game with its Ice Action Plan, but when groups put their hand up to work with Government at the community level they are being ignored,” Mr Bull said.
“Given Labor is beating its chest about a massive budget surplus and the windfall $9.7 billion Port of Melbourne lease, there is no excuse to continue to neglect our country communities.”
More than 1000 Victorians have been locked out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) under Daniel Andrews’ botched implementation, Shadow Minister for Disability Tim Bull said.
Reports today show the Andrews Labor Government has failed to meet a deadline to pass on information to meet a target to assess the eligibility of 6110 Victorians for the NDIS.
It means more than 1000 people with a disability will miss out on vital financial support this year.
“More than 1000 Victorians with a disability are being locked out of the NDIS under Daniel Andrews’ botched implementation of the scheme in Victoria,” Mr Bull said.
“Daniel Andrews says he is committed to getting the rollout on track, but has failed to meet the most basic requirements of the NDIS rollout.”
All state and territory governments agreed to provide data on existing clients six-months before they can be transitioned to the NDIS.
Victoria is the only state to have failed to meet these deadlines and those who missed out must now wait until next year to have their eligibility assessed.
“The scheme is vital to the wellbeing and quality of life of thousands of Victorians across the state, but Daniel Andrews has shown even the state’s most in need must take a number and join the line,” Mr Bull said.
“Rather than fighting for a union takeover of the CFA, Daniel Andrews should be fighting for support for our state’s most vulnerable.”
Demand for public housing is growing, but a lack of direction from the Andrews Labor Government is putting more stress on vulnerable Victorians, according to Shadow Minister for Housing Tim Bull.
Infrastructure Victoria found demand for affordable housing is outstripping the relative supply, with thousands of homes in the existing public housing stock in disrepair (Source: Infrastructure Victoria Draft 30-year Strategy, p90).
The Draft 30-year Infrastructure Strategy, released on Tuesday, identified a clear need to provide better access to housing, now and in coming decades.
“Daniel Andrews has no plan to relieve the intense stress on our state’s public housing assets, while tens of thousands of vulnerable Victorians are reduced to a number on extensive wait lists,” Mr Bull said.
“Simply building more homes isn’t the complete answer either. Daniel Andrews also continues to fail to address the underlying issues that have contributed to this crisis, like spiralling unemployment in a number of rural areas."
There were 32,250 applicants on the public housing wait list at June 2016, more than 8000 are in regional Victoria.
Labor’s own hand-picked infrastructure advisers identified a lack of leadership in social housing.
“This is no surprise, given Labor failed to allocate any significant funds for public housing in this year’s State Budget,” Mr Bull said.
“Under the previous Coalition government the public housing list decreased by more than 6000 applicants. Daniel Andrews has relegated this issue to the too-hard basket for too long.
“We already know our state is facing an affordable housing crisis.
“Our most vulnerable shouldn’t be forced to wait for a report to confirm this to get a roof over their heads.”
Bannockburn residents are concerned that someone will suffer dearly from ambulance delays, according to The Nationals candidate for Polwarth, David O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien recently doorknocked Bannockburn with The Nationals Leader, Peter Walsh, and said that a number of residents raised concerns about the delays in ambulance response times.
“One particular resident was a young mother, particularly concerned for the health and safety of children who may through incident, accident or illness required the service of an ambulance,” said Mr O’Brien.
“Some of the elderly folk we spoke with shared the concern. It is worrying to elderly people that the emergency services they rely on might not be there for them.
I call upon Jill Hennessey, Labor’s Minister for Health, to address the long delays as a matter of urgency,” said Mr O’Brien.
“The Minister should get down here herself and talk to the people of Bannockburn about their concerns with ambulance delays,” said Mr O’Brien.
The Labor Party has chosen not to field a candidate in the October 31, By-election for former Liberal Transport Minister Terry Mulder’s seat of Polwarth.
The Nationals Candidate for South West Coast Michael Neoh has welcomed today's pledge from the Liberal-National Coalition to invest $100 million for Stage 2 of the Warrnambool Base Hospital upgrade.
"Our hospital is a critical piece of infrastructure, and everyone who lives in this community understands we need Stage 2 of the upgrade project to keep up with growing service demands,” Mr Neoh said.
"The Andrew's Government has been in charge for nearly a year now but the Health Minister has focused on Melbourne issues and ignored the needs of Warrnambool.
"Now the people of South West Coast have an iron-clad guarantee that the next Liberal-National Coalition government will deliver the hospital that our region deserves."
Victoria’s Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Tim Bull, is calling on all Victorians to get involved in Mental Health Week which finishes on World Mental Health Day, Saturday October 10th.
Mr Bull said Mental Health Week is a great opportunity to educate and raise awareness among all Victorians about the effects of mental health on our society.
“With one if five people experiencing a mental health disorder it is very likely that you or someone you know will be affected during your lifetime.
“Mental Health Week is about helping to remove the stigma associated with mental health disorders so it can be treated like any other illness such as diabetes.
“I would encourage all Victorians to visit the mental health week website and get involved in one of the many events that are running right around the state,” Mr Bull said.
For more information about Mental Health Week and how you can get involved visit: http://mentalhealthvic.org.au/
Disability Minister Martin Foley must make it clear today how people living with disabilities will be compensated for the additional costs of care on AFL parade day.
At the eleventh hour last Friday, Martin Foley promised that Individual Support Packages (ISPs) would be topped up to meet the cost of care, which will increase due to penalty rates.
But this week one person with an ISP, Rachel Croucher, was told to submit an “application for non-recurrent funding”, a process which can take months, because the Department of Health and Human Services had not given any directive to care providers that there would be top-up funding. It has been a similar story for other people.
“My care agency know nothing about additional funding, no one else with an ISP I know is aware of anything, basically no one has heard of anything about additional funding,” Rachel said.
“This is affecting thousands of people who require disability support and in-home care.”
Shadow Minister for Disability Tim Bull said it was unacceptable that the Andrews Labor Government may wait until after the public holiday and then ask individuals to submit an application for the extra costs.
“This means those who are facing uncertainty and anxiety are being left to organise family to assist or are cutting back on care – all due to the uncertainty created by this government,” Mr Bull said.
“It is just not good enough.
“The government needs to commit to the full amount of the increased costs for support workers and put this money straight into ISPs, so there is no change to support for people with disabilities tomorrow.”
Victorians with disabilities and their families will receive funding to cover the cost of the AFL parade holiday, thanks to pressure from the Liberal-Nationals Coalition.
People with disabilities and their families were going to have to pay up to hundreds of extra dollars for carers on AFL parade day, because their Individual Support Packages did not include money for the penalty rates.
In some cases people with disabilities were planning to cancel part or all of their care on AFL parade day to lower the cost, leaving them bed-ridden or their families taking on the carer role for the day.
Shadow Minister for Disability Tim Bull said the Andrews Labor Government last night gave in to pressure from the Coalition, disability sector and Herald Sun, and would now make funding available.
“It’s disappointing the Andrews Labor Government has only provided this support under pressure at the 11th hour, but I’m pleased common sense has prevailed,” Mr Bull said.
“In Daniel Andrews’ rush to introduce this parade holiday he forgot all about those in the disability and aged care sectors, who are some of the most vulnerable in our community.
“I’m sure people with disabilities and their families will breathe a sigh of relief today, and now the government needs to show the same support to the aged care sector, which is facing a similar situation of increased costs because of AFL parade day.”
Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath is calling on the Labor Government to fund an administration officer for the Gippsland Carers Association so it can continue its valuable work.
Speaking in parliament recently Ms Bath said the Coalition had provided $25,000 a year over four years for a part-time administration officer for the association however the funding ran out at the end of last financial year and the Labor government has not renewed it.
“This funding paid for an administration officer to work 19 hours a week, which allowed the association’s carer mentor to be out on the road helping our carers,” Ms Bath said.
“Without an administration officer the carer mentor needs to divide her time between being out in the community where she is needed and being back in the office doing administration.”
Ms Bath said the carer mentor helped looked after the carer in their own home and offered a range of support to them.
“This results in huge savings for the government because it reduces the amount of time that people needing care spend in nursing homes and respite centres, as well as reducing the drain on the public hospital system,” she told the parliament.
“Without the funds to support the administration officer the Gippsland Carers Association is left facing a difficult decision: either to cut back on direct face-to-face support for carers or to cut back on other initiatives to help fund the part-time administration officer.”
Gippsland Carers Association president Jean Tops said the funding was critical to the volunteer committee of management’s ability to open its centre three days a week and provide necessary support for unpaid carers across Gippsland.
“Without an administration support officer we will be forced to reduce our opening hours to just two days a week and that means carers across Gippsland will miss out on vital support,” Ms Tops said.
Ms Bath said she hoped the Labor Government would value the work of the Gippsland Carers Association and provide the funding needed for an administration officer.
She said often the work provided by carers went unnoticed and it was important Gippsland carer’s contributions were recognised.
“The perfect opportunity to recognise these wonderful people is by nominating a local carer for the National Carer Awards,” Ms Bath said.
Now in its second year the National Carer Awards is a partnership between Carers Australia and Life Without Barriers and celebrates the unpaid carers and foster/kinship carers.
“These awards are a fantastic opportunity to recognise community members in Gippsland for the outstanding contribution they provide to the people they support,” Ms Bath said.
Ms Bath said there were many carers in Gippsland doing extraordinary work which was often not recognised.
“Unpaid family carers provide a significant and irreplaceable contribution to the welfare and well-being of their family members, children and adults with dependent disabilities,” she said.
Nominations are open now under four categories: Young Carer (aged 26 and under); Foster and Kinship Carer; Family Carers (general unpaid carer of a family member or friend); Caring in the Country (unpaid carer located within rural and remote locations).
Nominations close on Sunday 6 September. To nominate a carer visit www.carerawards.com.au