International Wheelchair Day – Response

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Given that the minister has indeed conceded that, while we have come a long way in terms of providing for people who use wheelchairs and other mobility aids in Australia, we still have a long way to go, what exactly is the minister and his department doing to ensure adequate provision of mobility aids such as wheelchairs for people with disabilities in South Australia?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion, Minister for Social Housing, Minister for Disabilities, Minister for Youth, Minister for Volunteers): I thank the honourable member for her supplementary question. Let me talk about the access to wheelchairs through government departments. Initial assessments are conducted by the Adult Specialised Services Intervention and Support Team (ASSIST). For clients with critical issues and at extreme risk, the referral is usually allocated within one or two weeks. Clients who are classified as a priority for wheelchair wheelchair  but who are not at extreme risk can wait up to four months for assessment, depending on the availability of specialist staff.

The time it takes to build a chair after this initial assessment is dependent on the complexity of the wheelchair required. For simple wheelchairs without significant modification, I am advised that supply times are just several days. Obviously, the more complex the modifications to chairs, the longer it will take to produce a product for that client. According to the Domiciliary Equipment Service report, as of 29 February 2012, there are a total of 240 adults still waiting for the final prescription through ASSIST. I cannot give you a time on how long it has taken them; it depends on whether it is a simple case or a much more specialist job.

The PRESIDENT: Further supplementary, the Hon. Ms Vincent.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: How many specialised staff to fit people for appropriate wheelchairs are currently available?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion, Minister for Social Housing, Minister for Disabilities, Minister for Youth, Minister for Volunteers): That is an answer I do not currently have in my head. I will have to bring back a response for the honourable member.

In reply to the Hon. K.L. VINCENT (28 March 2012).

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion, Minister for Social Housing, Minister for Disabilities, Minister for Youth, Minister for Volunteers): I am advised:

As at 31 March 2012, 160 clinicians have each prescribed at least one customised wheelchair for clients serviced by the Equipment Program in the 2011-12 financial year.

This does not include clinicians who prescribed only ‘basic’ wheelchairs.