Echo 9 August 01
Waiting lists for psychiatric treatment are lengthening at an alarming rate.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recently released statistics
showing that since 1998 there were 11.6 per cent fewer available beds and 19.7
per cent fewer patients were admitted to hospital while the number of people
treated on a same-day basis increased 3.4 per cent. In some cases throughout
NSW, psychiatric patients have been admitted to non-psychiatric wards in rural
areas and there can be very adverse consequences when this happens. These
incidences and statistics highlight the necessity to pursue adequate mental
health funding and I will continue to do so. It is time mental health was taken
more seriously by the Carr Government.
The State Government has announced the scrapping of the annual licence fees
for some country commuter airlines. This will assist, but only marginally as the
fee represents only 0.2 per cent of regional air service costs. I will be
suggesting to the Carr Government that they give consideration to assisting
local government with the cost of providing local airports and also consider
extending seniors' and pensioners' travel concessions to include small country
airlines in the same way that these concessions currently apply to privately
provided CountryLink buses and private buses in the metropolitan area. The
viability of country airlines depends on there being an affordable fare
structure to ensure adequate loadings, which in turn equates to service.
Olympic Bus for Lismore Electorate
The Lismore electorate was very fortunate to have been successful in
attaining one of the 60 disabled-fitted Olympic mini buses that made it to
country NSW. 525 applications were received from organisations from Broken Hill
to Albury and Tweed Heads. Minister Lo Po announced the allocation to Northern
Rivers Community Transport. The Minister also encouraged recipients to share
mini-buses with other community groups and for unsuccessful groups to make
contact with those awarded a bus. The buses are worth approximately $70,000 and
there were four awarded to Far North Coast community groups, being Tweed Valley
Respite Service Inc, Northern Rivers Community Transport Inc., Grafton Community
Bus Inc., and Clarence Community Transport Inc.
A recent media report that some HSC students were still without vital text
books two weeks before trial HSC exams was concerning. Country students have
enough difficulty in accessing resources without the basic impediment caused by
a lack of texts. This is the first year of the new HSC system and this brings
added pressures on top of the lack of texts. Students adversely affected in the
Electorate should be entitled to special consideration. I would like to be
advised of any local school without HSC texts as a matter of urgency, so that I
may make personal representations.
Mortgage Assistance Scheme
This scheme provides short-term help to people experiencing temporary
difficulties with the home loan repayments as a result of an unavoidable change
in their circumstances. These changes may be due to unemployment, accident,
illness or some other crisis. Mortgage Assistance is not a grant but a loan to
be repaid at a future time.
Funding Programs for Children with Disabilities
Intervention Support Program - supplementary funding for educational
programs for young children with disabilities below school age and for children
with disabilities in residential care funding. Closing date is 28 September
Capital Grants for Projects at Non-Government Centres - for the benefit of
children or students with disabilities. Closing date is 31 August.
Application forms and guidelines may be obtained from the website
www.det.nsw.edu.au/eas/isp or by contacting my office.
West of the Range Visit
I will be conducting a West of the Range visit on Friday 17 August and I
will be calling into Bonalbo, Old Bonalbo, Urbenville, Woodenbong and Legume.
During my visit to Kyogle on Monday 13 August, I will also call into Grevillia
and Wiangaree. For appointment times and enquiries please contact my electorate
office on 6621 3624.
I congratulate Louise Barry, Lismore Unlimited and the many local sponsors
who have worked so hard to organise the inaugural Northern Rivers Herb Festival,
which begins this Saturday. This is a 9-day celebration of natural living,
emphasising the major participation of the Northern Rivers region of NSW in the
herb industry that is highlighted though the promotion of Cellulose Valley
Technology Park. I encourage the community to support and patronise the many
Supporting the inaugural Northern Rivers Herb Festival 11- 19 August 2001