21/06/2012

Ms HARTLAND (Western Metropolitan) -- If I could follow Mr Lenders with a very specific question about a funding cut, this is in relation to women's health services.

They have found just this Monday that their funding will take quite a massive cut. When you consider it in terms of there being a 30 per cent increase in population and that these organisations have not received a funding increase for some 15 years, except for indexation of course, these services are already running on the smell of an oily rag.

It is quite clear that prevention is better than cure and that family violence costs the Australian economy more than $13 billion a year, so I am not quite sure why the government thinks these cuts make any sense. As I understand it, in terms of preventive women's health services there is a cut of about $350 000 in the first year. I know the Chair will not want me to editorialise, but that funding is little more than one single toilet to be used by a PSO (protective services officer). I would have thought that women's health was more important, and I would like the minister to explain why it is that these cuts have been made.

Hon. G. K. RICH-PHILLIPS (Assistant Treasurer) -- I thank Ms Hartland for her question and her interest in what is an important matter. Ms Hartland asked about a reduction of around $350 000. I am not able to give her that level of detail, but I can point out to her that in this budget, with respect to primary, community and dental health in the 2012-13 budget year, funding is $396 million, and the overall health allocation is now $13.6 billion, which is about a $500 million increase.

Ms HARTLAND (Western Metropolitan) -- There is an approximate cut of around $35 million in community health, and there are specific cuts in preventive health and family violence services. These services found out on Monday that their budgets would be cut. The minister has said that these are moderate cuts, but if it is actually going to protect a woman's life, I do not know how any cut can be moderate. The cuts have been announced.

That might be the figure that has been spent on community health, but $35 million worth of cuts is happening, and I do not understand why the government is doing that. I would like some kind of explanation.

Hon. G. K. RICH-PHILLIPS (Assistant Treasurer) -- I say to Ms Hartland that this budget has been framed in a very challenging situation. In terms of the overall allocation to the health budget, there is an increase but, within that, decisions need to be made as to resource allocations. The Minister for Health has had to make decisions around those particular programs and has made a decision accordingly.

Ms HARTLAND (Western Metropolitan) -- I can only presume then that the government has very little regard for the health and safety of women and that is why these cuts have occurred.

Hon. G. K. RICH-PHILLIPS (Assistant Treasurer) -- I say to Ms Hartland that that is clearly not the case. Decisions have to be made within the overall funding envelope for the Department of Health. Decisions have had to be made across government as to savings in order to deliver this budget. The reality is that we would like to spend more money in a whole range of areas but the current environment does not allow that.

Ms HARTLAND (Western Metropolitan) -- I do not know how far you will allow me to go with this, Chair, but I have to say that there is $600 million for a prison at Ravenhall and $120 million for PSOs, but there does not appear to be enough money to protect women in their homes.