There is still no certainty as to when, or if, the McGowan Labor Government will increase funding to reduce the significant wait times for primary school children accessing critical allied health services through the Department of Health’s Metropolitan Child Development Service.
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Learning Donna Faragher said answers to questions put to the Department of Health in October revealed the Child and Adolescent Health Service (CAHS) was seeking an additional $2.5 million to help address increasing wait times however the business case it had put to the government well before this year’s State Budget was still being considered.
Mrs Faragher said further parliamentary answers provided to her last week provided no additional detail on the status of the business case other than it was still being ‘considered’.
“This funding should have been released as part of the 2021/22 State Budget but from the answers provided to me just last week, it is clear the Minister for Health is still not prepared to provide me a timeframe as to when the $2.5 million business case will be approved.
“Despite my repeated requests in Parliament over the past few months for information on the business case and after being told in August that it was subject to Cabinet consideration as part of the 2021/22 budget process, answers provided in October and now December show that CAHS’s request for increased funding is still being ‘considered’ with CAHS left to fund additional supports from within its own resources.
“This is not good enough particularly when we continue to see ever increasing wait times for primary school aged children seeking access to vital supports,” Mrs Faragher said.
Answers to previous questions in State Parliament revealed the median wait times had blown out again for speech pathology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
“Figures released in October show the median wait times to access a speech pathologist is now 8.7 months, 7.8 months for an occupational therapist and 9 months for a physiotherapist.
“This is on top of figures released in August showing a median wait time of more than 16 months to see a paediatrician and 10 months to access a clinical psychologist.
“Minister Cook just needs to make a decision and provide the additional funding requested by his Department.
“The McGowan Labor Government has the ability to approve the business case and address these increasing wait times and I am calling on the Minister to release these much needed funds now,” Mrs Faragher said.