Samantha Hawley

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — Tonight I want to raise an issue for the urgent attention of the Minister for Community Services. I do so with some reluctance, but this woman is at her wits’ end. The urgent action I require, before the end of October, is that Mrs Debbie Hawley’s daughter, Samantha, be allocated sufficient funding by the Department of Human Services (DHS) so that she can be showered and clothed each day and attend Outlook during the week.

I met with Debbie at my office. She is a loving mother, but as she told me about her predicament she could not hold back the tears. Her daughter, Samantha, is 22 years old and has cerebral palsy. Debbie has spent her life caring for her, but as she gets older her own capacity to lift her and care for her has significantly declined. Recently, Samantha’s dad had a hernia operation and he can no longer lift her; hence a hoist is now required at all times to lift her.

Neither parent has a wheelchair accessible vehicle, so taxis are a must to transport Samantha.

What do Samantha and her family face because of a lack of funding? The family already has a deficit of $11 000 with DHS. They need help with clearing that debt and making sure they do not get into debt again so they require adequate resources going forward. They need more money and more support for Samantha. And what happens when Debbie rings the Department of Human Services? She told me in tears that she is told, ‘There is no money, no budget.

The costs of providing Samantha with the care she needs have continued to increase. For in-home caring, which she must have, her individual support package (ISP) was calculated at $77.65 per day; the daily cost is now $103.22. For the weekend it was $110 but is now $170. Debbie cannot keep pace with these fee increases because there is no money to do so.

The money has all been used up with basic care such that Samantha can no longer go to Outlook and cannot even afford a taxi to visit her Dad.

Windermere is trying to put together a new ISP but it cannot guarantee success. I note that Wallara, which provides day care services for Samantha, is a terrific organisation, and I thank them for all they do. But it is increasing its rates too! This is a terrifyingly sad and
bewildering prospect for the Hawley family. Let us face it, as Debbie herself says, ‘It’s not fair on my daughter, and it’s not fair on me’.

I ask the minister to act as a matter of urgency to fix this unacceptable problem. Samantha deserves better. Debbie and her family deserve the very best this state can provide.