Riverland indigenous health services

Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (16:58): My question is for the Minister for Health. At a time when the Labor government is encouraging regional communities to close the gap, can the minister advise why $750,000 of funding to support Indigenous health services in the Riverland has been cut, and how the community will now replace that funding shortfall?

Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (16:58): My question is for the Minister for Health. At a time when the Labor government is encouraging regional communities to close the gap, can the minister advise why $750,000 of funding to support Indigenous health services in the Riverland has been cut, and how the community will now replace that funding shortfall?


Mrs GERAGHTY: If I can just make a point of order, I just draw to your attention that sometimes we are seeing, if you want to read the transcript, that they are pre-empting their questions with inappropriate remarks and I don't think it should continue.

The SPEAKER: I will have a look at the Hansard, but I have already warned the deputy leader twice for doing that. I didn't detect a transgression on that occasion, perhaps because I was talking to the Opposition Whip. I apologise to the member for Torrens. The minister.

The Hon. J.J. SNELLING (Playford—Minister for Health and Ageing, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Minister for Defence Industries, Minister for Veterans' Affairs) (16:59): The programs that the member for Chaffey refers to I have canvassed in the media before. There are a number of elements to it. The first part was an audit that was being conducted of clinical records to ascertain the health outcomes for Aboriginal people. That audit was always expected to be time limited and not expected to continue beyond a particular date.

The second element to it was regarding a program that we were hoping to establish. Unfortunately, the department was not able to recruit people to deliver that service. There just were not the appropriately qualified people to deliver that service, so that money has had to be diverted elsewhere. This government makes no apologies with regard to its commitment to better Aboriginal health outcomes. In the last state budget there was a significant extension of Closing the Gap funding. I am personally committed to having better health outcomes for Aboriginal people.

We are always having a look at the programs we are delivering to ensure that taxpayers are getting value for their money, and I will never make any apologies for that. Where we ascertain that programs are not delivering the results we expect of them, then we will put that money to better uses, but with regard to the two elements of the particular funding the member is referring to, it was simply and unfortunately an inability on the part of the department to find suitable staff, and the second element was always expected to be a time-limited project with an end date.

Mr WHETSTONE: Supplementary, Mr Speaker.

The SPEAKER: Supplementary.

Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (17:01): Given the minister's answer that he was unable to find suitable staff to carry out the funding, did the minister personally consult with the Riverland Division of General Practice before that decision?

The Hon. J.J. SNELLING (Playford—Minister for Health and Ageing, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Minister for Defence Industries, Minister for Veterans' Affairs) (17:02): No, I did not. I do not go out and personally consult with everything that goes on within my department, but I think the member for Chaffey is confusing two things. I think he is confusing the first part of the program, which was the audit, on which I think the Riverland general practice might have something to say, and the simple fact is that, with regard to their particular issue, that funding was always expected to be time limited. It always had an end date. It was a specific project for an audit of medical records in GP clinics to ascertain health outcomes for Aboriginal people. It was always time limited.

With regard to the second element, I do not think that would have had much to do with the Riverland general practice. I am open to correction. I need to check the advice from my department, but that was a specific program for which we needed to recruit workers in order to deliver the service. We advertised, and I think there might have been several rounds of advertising to try to recruit suitable staff, and the department was not able to do that. That does not mean that that money has just been pocketed. That money has been diverted into other areas of Aboriginal health where we think it can be better used.

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